A Beautiful Loser – Bob Seger

One of the more surprising posts I have written was a tribute to one of my favorite artists, Jim Croce. I wanted to introduce him to new audiences as he passed away in the early 1970’s, yet it has been one of the more frequented posts I have written as many have fond memories of his music. Another favorite artist is Bob Seger. His combination of great lyrics and rock and roll sound is not often matched. His memorable songs are many in number and it is hard to decide which is my favorite. It is probably equally as difficult for other fans of his.

Unlike Croce, Seger is still with us and my wife and I have had the good fortune to have seen him concert. It was later in his career, but I have found that artists doing a later tour are much more appreciative of their audience. Seger was no exception. I use this title as “Beautiful Loser” is among my favorites. It resonates with me as we all are fixer uppers. None of us is perfect, but the song title reminds me we all aspire to be better than we are and we want it all – but we will fall short of that goal. We want to be the most beautiful loser we can be. The chorus goes as follows:

“Beautiful loser….where you gonna fall….when you realize…..you just can’t have it all.”

But, the list goes on. “Night Moves” is his most played song as he sings of how young teens are learning and experimenting with lustful romance.  They are “working on mysteries without any clues” which is a wonderfully expressive line. Yet, there are many classic lines throughout. Another example is “Trying to lose the awkward teenage blues.” It is a song that bring back many memories, both the excitement and the angst.

Some of his songs show how similar we are. He vividly portrays the uniformity of male lust under “Fire Down Below” whether you are “the mayor with your face hidden from the light” or the “lawyer or the cop.” He shows it is a universal trait across all US geography. If he wrote it today, maybe he would tease in whether you are a Tea Partier or a progressive, we all have the fire down below.

Another big favorite of mine is “Against the Wind.” I think the story it tells is so reflective. “We are older now, but still running against the wind.” Like Beautiful Loser, we are doing the best we can, but sometimes it feels like the odds are against us. So, just do the best you can. And, he laments as an older person “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” He sadly remembers the excitement and anticipation of it all when he was younger.

Others worth listening to include:

– “Main Street” which is one of the few songs by anyone that sounds better live with the haunting guitar sound. The intent of the song is how the memory of a “long lovely dancer at the club downtown” haunts him to this day.

– “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” was great even before a young Tom Cruise lip-sang to it as a teenager with his air guitar in “Risky Business.” The women reading this can thank me later for giving them a reminder of a young Cruise.

– “Feel Like a Number” resonates to this day, as we are an employment number, a social security number, a user code, etc. We have desensitized ourselves to each other and he saw it even then when he cried “I’m not a number, dammit I’m a man.”

– “Fire Lake” was not a huge hit, but is a great storytelling song – “You remember Uncle Joe, he was the one afraid to cut the cake.” The song has much deeper meaning, but I love that line as it remind us all of relatives we have.

– “Her Strut” which is down and dirty rock and roll. “I do respect her but, I love to watch her strut” pulsates to a great rock and roll beat. I have never wanted to look up the spelling of “but” as I wanted to leave it to my imagination.

– “Turn the Page” about an aging rock star, “Still the Same” whose title describes the song, “Like a Rock” which is a good song, but was burnt out by a commercial marketing pick-up trucks, “Hollywood Nights” another great sounding live song,  “You’ll Accompany Me,” We’ve Got Tonight” sung with Sheena Easton, “Roll me Away,” “Travelin Man”and Katmandu” are all terrific songs as well.

I am certain I left out someone’s favorite, so please forgive me. Please do comment with songs that resonate more with you. For those who have not listened to a fuller body of his work, give the above songs a try. He reminds us of ourselves. We are all doing the best we can to be “beautiful losers.”

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11 thoughts on “A Beautiful Loser – Bob Seger

  1. Like Jim Croce, I put Bob Segar on the top of my must play list. I had all of his albums, then all of his CD’s. I have a favorite play list of over 125 albums, and both these guys are always on top. Another to consider is Kenny Loggins. He is an animated performer who appreciates his audiences, and many of his songs are incredibly moving.

    Thanks for keeping That Old Time Rock and Roll fever going!

    • I like Kenny Loggins as well. His version of “Danny’s Song” by Anne Murray is a classic. I also love “House on Pooh Corner.” Thanks for the memories as well.

  2. “Beautiful loser”…and just as poetic is the English “Top of the tree.” So many ways to say I’d like to be the best….yet so difficult to not only “get” there…but to stay.
    Thank you, from Jots…self appointed member in standing of FartsGallery.

  3. thanks for triggering memories of many great songs; i always love the design/beginning of ‘turn the page,’ and ‘roll me away’ makes me ponder those odds of ‘i could go east, i could go west, it was all up to me to decide..’ — how many times does a choice like that affect the outcome of one’s life?

    • Z, many thanks and well said. There are many paths forward and roads not taken. Maybe if we wander down a few of them, we might find something of interest. Seger is great car listening music when you are by yourself and can listen to the lyrics. Take care, BTG

  4. Until I read this post I always viewed the song from the “Loser” angle — connoting a put-down of the subject. But you have (correctly) helped me appreciate the “Beautiful” angle. It is difficult to admit that I am a Loser, but once I get past that I can concentrate on being Beautiful.

    • Thanks for your comment. I hesitated to use that title, but I believe we are all fixer uppers, so Seger sees the beauty in each of us in spite of our faults. I also like the phrase “you just can’t have it all.” To me this means, we have to make judgment calls and cannot do everything. I appreciate your reading and commenting. Seger’s lyrics are very meaningful, especially when married with a great tune. All the best, BTG

  5. Pingback: Songwriters and Performers | musingsofanoldfart

  6. Thanks for this article. Bob Segar is a great talent. I wish more musicians would look back at these aging or gone rockers of the 70s and 80s. As with Bob Segar, the pure talent and love of rock music is inspiring.

    • Thanks for your note. His blend of lyrics, storytelling and music are exceptional. I knew that Glenn Frey used to play guitar with his band, but until The Eagles were honored by the Kennedy Center, I did not know Seger and Frey co-wrote “Heartache Tonight.” It was great to see Seger honor The Eagles by singing that at the honors. Thanks for your comment. Keith

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