One of the most often overused and completely misused clichés unduly tossed around in the music business is “one-hit wonder.”
It’s a convenient and lazy label used liberally by music insiders and the music press. It unfortunately trickles down to the masses - the common music fans who often don’t know any better than to read the labels they are given and accept them as the gospel truth.
Often, the term “one-hit wonder” may be technically accurate if it is used to denote a musician who has only had one popular hit on the charts in the span of his entire career. However, whether theoretically true or not, this term unfairly dismisses all of the other work by the musician as inconsequential and performs a disservice to the musician and the music fans. This “one-hit wonder” mindset is the unjust result of the superficial selection process by which songs get airplay. Unfortunately, this process is beyond the control of the musician and the serious music fans and is not necessarily indicative of how talented or prolific the musician is in reality.
As an alternative to this short-sightedness in the music business, “One-track wonder” focuses on a single track by an artist that goes beyond the “one-hit wonder” mentality.
“One-track wonder” highlights a song which does what any good song should do - strike a chord and take you to a place where you’ve already been, or to a destination you someday wish to go. This doesn’t have to be a geographical location. It can be a place in time, or a place that exists only in your dreams or imagination.
Working on the night moves
According to Seger, “Night Moves” was inspired by the movie “American Graffiti.” After seeing this coming of age/loss of innocence film, Seger realized there were similar stories in his part of the world (Detroit/Ann Arbor, Michigan) which needed telling too. Thankfully, “Night Moves” was one of the stories Seger chose to tell.
On the surface, the autobiographical “Night Moves” was based on a romance Seger had just out of high school with a girl whose boyfriend was away in the service. When he came back from the service, the girl married the boyfriend and broke Seger’s heart. However, “Night Moves” is much more than a boy meets girl, boy loses girl tale of lost love. Like its cinematic inspiration, it captures the universal themes of coming of age, the loss of innocence, and the unavoidable passage of time (“ain’t it funny how the night moves?”) which everyone must confront at some point in life.
“Night Moves” emotionally bridges the gap between the naiveté of youth, and its innocent, idealistic perception of love, romance, sexuality, and life and the more experienced, jaded, and realistic perception of these same elements in a bittersweet reflection back to that lost moment in time. “Night Moves” appeals to the innocent youthfulness that exists in everyone longing to take that forbidden leap which will propel you, ready or not, into adulthood and its ensuing responsibilities. It also speaks to the more mature, experienced adult who’s been there already. It gives you a chance to relive that youthful, carefree leap and recapture how alive it made you feel at the time. It forces you to reassess that moment from an older, wiser perspective and gives you the opportunity to hold onto it and never let it go.
“Night Moves" is a song that goes above and beyond being merely a hit on the charts. It's the sweet summertime of your youth when the world was your blank canvas. It’s the autumn of your adulthood closing in. It's when you wake to the sound of thunder in the early morning hours to assess that canvas for its meaning and its value. It's your past, present, and future. It’s what all songs should strive to be.
Click here to listen to “Night Moves.”
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