The Monday Movement by Ken Eifrid
Like a Rock — Bob Seger
Just about anyone who’s ever watched television can picture the commercial. A pickup truck splashing through a mud puddle; a half ton of lumber being dropped on a spring loaded flatbed; or two men dressed in flannel and jeans shaking hands after a completed job. For over a decade these images were associated with one song and one song only: Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock.”
As iconic as those Chevrolet truck commercials were throughout the 1990’s, I believe they overshadowed the powerful “coming of age” theme one of the greatest songwriters of all time was singing about. And as one of Seger’s biggest fans, I believe the song should be known as an ode to youth rather than trucks.
Look, I’m just as guilty. My appreciation for the guy started as a nine or ten year old kid. I can still remember my sister teaching me the lyrics to “Turn the Page” one night by testing out our new stereo’s repeat button. But even as a longtime fan, I still connected “Like a Rock” to a mud stained truck.
As I’ve gotten older though, I’ve begun to see there is much more to the song. When “Like a Rock” came out in 1986, Seger wasn’t a young man anymore. At the age of 40, he was reminiscing on his youthful days with a sense of pride rather than regret.
“And I stood arrow straight Unencumbered by the weight Of all these hustlers and their schemes I stood proud, I stood tall High above it all I still believed in my dreams”
Every single one of us hits that certain age where we begin to look back at happier times. Maybe it was the lack of responsibility youth encompasses that makes us reflect on it. Maybe it was just a few cold ones around a hot fire. Whatever the reason, when Seger acknowledges this yearning, “Like a Rock” truly comes full circle.
“Twenty years now Where’d they go? Twenty years I don’t know I sit and I wonder sometimes Where they’ve gone And sometimes late at night When I’m bathed in the firelight The moon comes callin’ a ghostly white And I recall I recall’’
Seger caught some flak for the success of those Chevrolet commercials. Perhaps some of it was even warranted because of his firm stance against selling out years earlier. But for a man that grew up in the Detroit area, helping the auto industry justified coming off as a bit hypocritical.
And, so as Seger comes to peace with “Like a Rock,” finally incorporating it into his live shows after a long hiatus, I think we should consider it a callback to great memories. When I watched Seger belt out those words at the Palace of Auburn Hills Thursday night, I was thinking about previous concerts I’ve seen and the good people I was with. I was not thinking about pickup trucks.