clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

YouTube Gold: Night Moves

One of the finest songs about the 1960’s in the rearview.

Photo of Bob Seger
A young Bob Seger

The history of modern popular music - rock and roll is not really a sufficient umbrella anymore - started in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s with the earliest forms of rock and roll from New Orleans.

BY the ‘50s, with the help of radio, it had spread to white youth and in the ‘60s it came to define youth culture, the restless, teeming baby boomers who carried it to the far corners of the globe.

The Soviet Union collapsed for many reasons, mostly political and economic, but also cultural: the Politburo hated rock and roll but it couldn't hold the music or its trappings back: at one point, you could go to the USSR or any of the Eastern Bloc countries with a suitcase full of Levis and basically pay for your trip.

By the ‘70s though, a sense of weariness and mortality began to creep into pop music. American Pie was a look back at how music and culture had changed since The Day The Music Died. Bruce Springsteen started with exuberant songs like Spirit in the Night and Rosalita but when Born To Run came out in 1976, it features songs like Backstreets, Meeting Across The River and Jungleland, all of which were powerful but miles away from Rosalita.

It’s hard to think of a song that encapsulates that great sobering up more than Bob Seger’s Night Moves.

It starts with a couple losing their virginity to each other in the back of a ‘62 Ford and ends with the song slowing down and the narrator saying this:

I woke last night to the sound of thunder/How far off I sat and wondered/Started humming a song from 1962/Ain’t it funny how the night moves/When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose/Strange how the night moves/With autumn closing in

It’s hard to find a better summation of the sense that the ‘60s were over and the massive cultural shifts of the 1970s, much less in less than 4 12 minutes.