“But it was long ago.” – Bob Seger
It sure was, Bob. It sure was.
There are some songs that I never tire of. Songs that cause me to write sentences ending with prepositions. There are songs that cause me to pause, to reflect on events, reflect on friends and families and reflect about places in time. They cause my mind to wander like a never-ending restless night. They cause my breathing to beat in-time to the mid-tempo melodies and rhythms. These songs ease my tension, and these songs somehow fill me with the constant contronyms of happiness and sorrow giving their all in what at times feels like a heavyweight title fight. These are the songs I have no problem turning up every time they come on the radio. I don’t mind putting them on repeat in my headphones while the cursor searches for words on an empty screen.
This is one of those songs.
“We were young and strong. We were running against the wind.”
It was the dawn of a new decade when Seger released this song in the spring of 1980. It was a decade that unknowingly would forever rest within my core. One that would birth this unexplainable thing called a blog nearly 40 years later. I was just a skinny nine-year old kid in 1980 with a shy demeanor, curly brown hair, and just going about my business of being an adolescent growing up in a small town in Oklahoma doing things that other nine year old boys were doing – riding bikes through the woods, playing with Star Wars action figures, collecting baseball cards, and donating quarter after quarter to a company called Namco in support of a yellow dot-digesting sphere. We were busy shooting hoops, fielding ground balls on dusty fields, playing tag on the playground, and praying that P.E. class would include dodgeball that day.
There were no deadlines save the occasional book report. There were no commitments except those games of sport that were waiting for us every afternoon and evening during the summer. I didn’t care who our president was. I didn’t care about inflation or the GDP. I cared if Terry Bradshaw threw a touchdown pass. I cared if my dad’s basketball team won or lost. I cared about building the coolest treehouse ever, and I cared about creating fictional newspapers and making up video games in my head and putting them on paper for my friends. I cared about Billy Joel and Kenny Rogers and Kool and the Gang. I cared about the music then and I still do.
“(Against the wind) watch the young man run.”
In 1980, we were running against the wind, with the wind, in spite of the wind, it made no difference. The wind only mattered on the outdoor basketball courts and hitting golf balls around the neighborhood, and of course when the occasional tornado spun close by (it was Oklahoma after all). The wind was a mere nuisance for us much of the time. We were immortal in 1980.
We were the wind.
“Well those drifter’s days are past me now
I’ve got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out.”
“I’m older now, but still running against the wind.”
In April of 1980, Bob Seger was already 35 and had just finished his ELEVENTH studio album when he released this song. It was the second single off of the album of the same name. The song immediately started its’ ascension peaking at #5 in June. Backed by The Silver Bullet Band, the album version features backing vocals by Bob’s pal, the late, great Glenn Frey. The song made a resurgence in 1994 when it was famously used in the Tom Hanks’ classic movie “Forrest Gump,” and its’ subsequent soundtrack.
“My mama always said you have to put the past behind you before you can move on.” – Forrest Gump
I know many Seger fans will choose “Turn the Page” or “Night Moves” or even “Old Time Rock & Roll” as the best song from his extensive catalog, but for my money give me the mellow guitar, the beautiful piano backdrop and Seger’s great lyrics. The song essentially is about growing older and confronting memories of the past and it seems to mean more to me as the years roll on even though I’ve listened to it thousands of times.
“Let the cowboys ride!” (I just wanted to include that lyric because I love it). A former high school cross-country runner, here is Bob Seger and the beautiful “Against the Wind…”
Whether you’re currently running with or against the win, I hope you’re still running. I still am.
Beautifully written. I too like this song. Never really paid too much attention to the lyrics other than “against the wind.” But I’m paying attention now. Thank you for that. I’m never sure what to do with memories. They seem unavoidable. A smell or as you say, a song reminds and then I find myself lost in thought, in the memory, far from the moment. Whatever it makes for a great read. Great job.
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