Old Time Rock And Roll

Album: Stranger In Town (1978)
Charted: 28
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  • This is one of the few songs Seger recorded that he didn't write. It was written by the songwriters George Jackson and Thomas Jones - they worked for Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, where the song was recorded. Although Seger worked on the lyrics, he didn't take any songwriting credit. This means that Seger doesn't own the publishing rights to the song, and Jackson and Jones control when it is used in movies and commercials.

    According to Seger, he was feeling generous that day, and says not seeking composer credit was "the dumbest thing I ever did." Seger claims he changed all the original lyrics except for the "old time rock and roll" part. He made sure to take a dig at disco music, which was fading in popularity.
  • Seger recorded this with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, a famous group of studio musicians who owned their own recording studio in Alabama. Other singers they had worked with include Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, and Rod Stewart. They gave many songs a feeling of authenticity, which was important to Seger because his previous album, Night Moves, was very successful and he didn't want to be perceived as selling out to pop radio.

    Jerry Masters, who was a recording engineer at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, told Songfacts the story: "We cut a demo on the writer of the song, George Jackson, there at the studio when we didn't have anything else to do. It was a great demo, along with some others we cut that day. Seger liked the song so much he tried to cut it himself, but after numerous tries, with the Swampers and with his band, he finally gave up. He and Punch Andrews [Seger's manager] decided to buy the demo track from us and put his vocal on it, and that ended up being the record. It's a classic. We also did 'Katmandu' and several more that were on the Night Moves and Stranger In Town LPs. So the classic 'Old Time' was in reality a demo we cut on the writer a couple of years earlier."
  • The original demo for this song had George Jackson on vocals, which didn't work when pitching the song to Bob Seger. David Hood, who was the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section bass player, told Songfacts, "After we got through recording it, we listened to it and thought, Well, pretty good, but George is a black guy. And he just didn't sound like a rock and roll singer. So Jimmy [Johnson, MSSS guitarist] and I were working with a rock group that we were trying to produce at the time. We brought in the singer from that group, a young man named Dennis Gulley, and put him on the track, the rock and roll track. And when we heard his version of it, we thought, Wow, that sounds just like something that Bob Seger would do.

    We had been recording with Bob for some time by then. We knew that Bob didn't really cut other people's stuff very much, but we thought, well, there's a chance. So we sent it to Bob. He liked it, wanted to make a couple of changes to make it suit him a little bit more. So he came back in and re-recorded the song with us and also recorded it with his band, the Silver Bullet Band, and it just never came off. And so he ended up putting his voice on our demo, the demo that we had done at our Studio B with George Jackson. They just took George's voice off, put Bob's voice on there, and that's the hit record."
  • The lead guitar player on "Old Time Rock And Roll" was not a Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section player. It was Forrest McDonald, a young man just passing through who happened to stop in the studio that day. When Songfacts spoke with David Hood, he told the story: "He happened to come in the parking lot in his mother and daddy's car with them, and Jimmy was out on the back porch. I believe his first name was Howie, but he probably goes by another name. But anyway, that's very true. He came into the parking lot one afternoon and Jimmy was out on the back porch. And he says, 'Well, I'm a guitar player and I'm wanting to learn how to play on recording sessions. And I think I'm good.' He says, 'Well, got your guitar with you?' He says, 'Yeah.' Jimmy says, 'Well, come on in.' And they put him on the track. His mother and daddy never even got out of the car. They sat in the car in the parking lot with the air conditioning running. And they put him on the track playing guitar and it's on the record, it stayed on there. It was a good enough part that they kept it on there."

    McDonald wasn't credited for his part on the song, but he did get paid.

    According to McDonald, he lived in Hollywood but was in Alabama to visit his father when they decided to go to Muscle Shoals. He hadn't been on any major recordings, but he was a professional musician who played the Sunset Strip and performed with Van Halen.

    McDonald went on to be a successful musician in his own right. He released dozens of blues albums, won some awards, and performed extensively in shows and festivals, mostly in the Southeastern United States. He sang backup vocals on several tracks for the soundtrack to the 2001 Sean Penn film I Am Sam.
  • The George Jackson - Muscle Shoals connection is through Malaco Records of Jackson, Mississippi ("America's Last Soul Record Label"). Jackson was a staff songwriter for Malaco, and Malaco often recorded their sessions at Muscle Shoals. He was also a part owner of the studio. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Rick - Ottawa, IL
  • This was used in the 1983 movie Risky Business in a famous scene where Tom Cruise dances to the song in his underwear. This scene quickly entered the zeitgeist, leading to parodies, tributes, even Halloween costumes. Seger is OK with having his song closely associated with an underwear-clad Cruise - he says he gets a kick out of it.
  • This was used in a commercial for Friskies cat food, with the lyrics changed to: "Just take the Friskies off the shelf, your cat can eat them all by himself." It was later used in popular commercials for the video game Guitar Hero, which parodied the Risky Business scene.

Comments: 29

  • Sidney Julia Harden from Eatonton, GaAlways love a classic rock and roll it won't ever go out of style just like a pair of blue jeans they come around
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaHave heard the story about the kid who played on this song. Heard he never could get another gig to play afterwards.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn April 1st 1979, "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #72; seven weeks later on May 20th, 1979 it would peak at #28 {for 2 weeks} and spent 11 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #31 on the Canadian RPM 100 singles chart...
    Was track three of side one on the group's tenth studio album, 'Stranger in Town', and the album peaked at #4 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    Three other tracks from the album also made the Top 100 chart; "Still The Same" {#4}, "Hollywood Nights" {#12}, and "We've Got Tonite" {#13}...
    Robert Clark Seger will celebrate his 70th birthday come next month on May 6th {2015}.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxGreg, you heard the voice of God say, 'You have found home!' but you clearly didn't hear it say, 'You will get into her pants!'
  • Laura from El Paso, TxEvery time I hear this song it reminds me of when Kirk Cameron and Alan Thicke sang it in a 'father / son" duet on that show "Growing Pains" in the early 90's.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationBecause the tune was unfamiliar to them at the time, Seger remembers catching a lot of heat from the band when he pushed to introduce it into his live set: "The band was always complainin' about it. And we were in Germany, and I said, 'Let's just play that song for the heck of it. Let's just play it and see what happens.' And we got a huge response with it -- (laughs) and they never even heard it, it wasn't even out yet. And the guys kinda looked at me and said, 'Hmmm -- this isn't so band after all (laughs).' So we proceeded to play it through the rest Europe, and went to France, and the Netherlands, Sweden and wherever we went; and it got the same response. By the time we got home, it was, like, 'Y'know, this was a good move' and the band wasn't angry about it anymore."
  • Barry from New York, NcThe version of this song on the NINE TONIGHT live LP is superior than the original one on STRANGER IN TOWN. Due to radio and movie overexposure, I started to hate the original, but the live version always sounded good.
  • Greg from Minneapolis, MnThis is a bit of a story... but none the less. It was early 1978. I was a junior in high school. when I was sitting in a pet store talking to a parrot! Yes, a parrot .. when I made a parrot sound "Arrhaa", whistled, and then in parrot void said "Hello". That caught the attention of a beautiful red head about my age who happed to be in the store. We talked and eventually exchange numbers. I called her up for a date and she said, "I want to go see Bob Seger!". I said, "Who is Bob Seger". After she rambled off a few songs, I finally settled on recognizing "Night Moves". From what I remember of the song, I thought to myself, "Yes, Bob Seger. Night Moves. He must be a southern, black, raspy blues singer." That was the only song I had heard of his. I remember buying the tickets. $4.75. Yes, $4.75 to sit in the bowl section, opposite end of the stage at the old Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota .. where the North Stars used to play. I remember trying desperately trying to get into her pants out in the parking lot before the concert; not having one bit of interest in Bob Seger at that point. Needless to say, I had no luck. But my luck was about to change. We went inside, found our seats, sat down and much to my surprise there were 4 to 5 of my high school buddy's sitting right in front of me. They turned to me and said, "Smitty, what you doing here? You like Seger?". I remember gesturing silently the best I could on how I was just there to get into my date's pants! Any who, the concert started and Seger blew my #@$!@'ng socks off. This was his "Stranger in Town" tour and I still remember the shivers that went down my spine when I heard him say, "I'd like to do a new song off of my new album called 'Old Time Rock and Roll'". When that piano riff came down the scale twice and I first heard the those immortal words "Just take those old records off the shelf....". It was magic. I remember hearing "Rock and Roll Never Forgests", "Katmandu", and "Turn the Page" for the first time in my life. I was speechless. And, of course, he played "Let it Rock" as the very last song ... as an encore .. of course. I swear to this day, sometime during that concerts, things got quiet, a light from above shined on me while everything around me got dark, and I hear the voice of God say, "You have found home! You have found true rock and roll! You have found Seger!" I remember getting home and talking to my siblings about Seger. Being the youngest of 8 kids, my siblings at that time where more versed in the world of music. Of course, I did not remember a full song title, but tried my damnedest to hum the tunes to them. "You ever heard a song like this ... 'Ooooo, Rock and Roll never forgets' .. and how about 'Katmandu ... ewwww!". It was hopeless, but I was hooked. I went out and bought almost every album he's made .. or atleast the ones available. At the time, I was on a crusade to make "Old Time Rock and Roll" the number one song in the country! Still to this day I am sorry it never made it there. I am and always will be sold on Seger. I've tried moving on .. but always find myself back where true rock and roll lives. I have no clue whatever happened to that little red head from the pet shop that day some 30 plus years ago now, but she sure and shoot changed my life ... and so did "Old Time Rock and Roll".
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlI forgot about Brandon's comment about Chuck Berry. I can hear the similarities between this & "Rock and-Roll Music" by Chuck Berry & by the Beatles, & ultimately remade by the Beach Boys. It seems that "There's only one sure way to get (Chuck Berry) to go". Not true of Bob Seger. By the way, I've always been quite *sure* of the lyrics "There's only one *sure* way". But at first, I feared that by some marginal chance the lyrics were "There's only one s--t way". That off-chance was relieved away when I read the lyrics.
  • Drew from B'ham, AlN.I., "It's Still Rock-&-Roll to Me" seems to me to indicate that Billy Joel doesn't care that related styles are what they are & didn't mind throwing them in amid other Rock styles. Plus, I don't see any indication that disco was any exception. "I Love Rock-&-Roll" by Joan Jett, however, u may be right about, that it speaks against disco. Bob Seger may very well despise the disco *style*, but that disco-like *drumbeat* seems to be his favorite. Hard to figure out. I was so surprised & relieved to hear so many of his hits use the disco beat. And Seger's 4/4 time makes it all the better!
  • Chris from Hudsonville, MiThe repeated piano intro to this song was a mistake. The equipment they were using to mix the recording accidentally played it twice, and both Seger and his producer liked it so they left it in.
  • Sherry from Syracuse, NyThis song is the best ever. I, too, do not care what Matt from Charleston SC says. This song could put the grumpiest person in a good mood.
  • Jeff from Austin, TxAnything to do with Alf is always worth mentioning.
  • Kaitlyn from Valley, Alve thid song, nt grandson and I olan to do a cd for his 14th birthday. This is a great song, with a terrific beat, now all I need is all thr kyrics.
    katy in Alabama
  • Jonathon Monk from Palm Bay, FlOld Time Rock And Roll
    was also featured in a really funny scene in an episode of ALF.

    Jon Monk
  • Cassnadra from Norway, Meomg this is such a good song...i listen to it almost every night,and im so glad that my 8th grade is doing an 50-70's rock project....i mean dont get me wrong i like this song,and hav for years, but not alot of other 14 year olds now about Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band..or anyone else
  • Sasha from Winston, MsThis song is so addictive!
  • N.i. from Baltimore, MdWhen I was a kid, for a long time I thought this song was actually from the 1950s. I'm not sure I would ever have made that mistake today (especially if I'd listened to the lyrics), but it does obviously have an intentionally retro sound. It was one of a handful of songs from the late '70s and early '80s that expressed a nostalgic longing for good old fashioned rock and roll. Two others were Billy Joel's "It's All Rock and Roll to Me" and Joan Jett's "I Love Rock and Roll" (actually a cover of a 1975 song). All these songs were probably a reaction against disco.
  • Darrell from EugeneGood music more or less began to decline when rap became popular in the early 1990s, and by the turn of the millennium, there was basically no good music left, at least not for a 64-year-old man and his unconventional 26-year-old girlfriend.
  • Andrew from Birmingham, United StatesI agree about today's music. I've always wondered why behind this hit was some kind of Disco Beat when the lyrics speak against it. But I've found that what my dad told me makes sense: Bob Seger was probably, in a way, poking fun at disco. That's just a hypothesis, but it's a very reasonable hypothesis. It never occurred to me that anyone would set a kind of drumbeat or any specific style behind lyrics strictly to poke fun at the style. I wouldn't be surprised if I found out that others did, though. Although I additionally like disco and funky classic, I think of "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob Seger as rather interesting. I like to sing along with it every time I hear it. But when I sing it, I refer to music of the 1990s and 2000s not having the same soul, which is not what I'd say about 1970s music, but oh well. The point is, "Old Time Rock and Roll" is one of my favorites. I'm also a fan of Credence Clearwater Revival. That's understood, right?
  • Marissa from Is This Optional?, OhThis song was also featured in a really funny scene in an episode of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."
  • Derek from Sarnia, CanadaGotta love this song if you like classic rock and not the main stream crap that is coming out today..."Today's music aint got the same soul, I like that old time rock 'n' roll"
  • Garrett from Nashville, TnBarry Beckett, who played piano in the Muscle Shoals band, has said that the beginning piano double riff was a mistake. It was only supposed to be played once, but when the band didn't kick in, he played it again. After listening to it, Seger decided to leave the mistake in.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI've danced to this! Big Thrill! Brandon, Chuck Berry did rock n' roll music before the Beatles.
  • Kyle from Belleville, CanadaI don't care what Matt from Charleston says, still a good song. Seger regrets not taking song writing credit for this song, he says it is his biggest regret in life.
  • Kyle from Belleville, CanadaGreat tune...I saw him do this live in '96 and it got everyone dancing.
  • Matt from Charleston, ScTop jukebox song? How about most played-out song?
    This song is now only used by the cheeziest of DJ's at your cousin's wedding. Gets Uncle Morty and the 5-year olds out on the floor every time. Ugggh.
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaI think it was Creedence's "Proud Mary" which inspired "Old Time Rock and Roll", not "Travelin' Band". Because, apparently, Seger obviously sounded like Fogerty when he performed this tune. And, both songs soundalike and the vocals are really similar.
  • Brandon from Seattle, WaThe song was originally by Chuck Berry. The song was also influenced by many previous songs: the Beatles' "Rock and Roll Music", Rolling Stones' "It's Only Rock and Roll - But I Like It", Johnny Rivers'"Rocking Pneumonia and the Boogie-Woogie Flu", and a song by Creedence Clearwater Revival (but I don't know which one --- if anyone knows please notify me).

    Interestingly, Bob Seger was a big fan of Creedence Clearwater Revival (ironically sounding a lot like John Fogerty) and Seger later covered Creedence's "Fortunate Son."
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