This piano-based ballad is about two lonely people who aren't right for each other, but will do for one night. Seger wrote the song after seeing the movie The Sting, starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman. In the film, there's scene where Redford puts the moves on a waitress, who says, "I don't even know you." He replies: "You know me. I'm the same as you. It's two in the morning and I don't know nobody."
"That just hit me real hard," Seger told the Detroit Free Press in 1994. "The next day I wrote 'We've Got Tonight,' this song about two people who say 'I'm tired. It's late at night. I know you don't really dig me, and I don't really dig you, but this is all we've got, so let's do it.' The sexual revolution was still going strong then."
Seger's Silver Bullet Band at the time included guitarist Drew Abbott, drummer David Teegarden, keyboardist Robyn Robbins, bass guitarist Chris Campbell, and saxophone player Alto Reed. The song reached #13 on the Hot 100 and also charted twice in the UK, originally peaking at #41 before later making it to #22 during a 1995 re-release.
What do you get when a country star and a Scottish pop starlet record a Bob Seger song? Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton's duet, with the spell-checker approved title of "We've Got Tonight." With both the man and woman singing it, it's clear that they're on the same page and will be getting it on that night. The song appeared on Rogers' 1983 album, where it was the title track. This rendition topped the Billboard Country chart and also reached #6 in the Hot 100 and #28 in the UK.
Ronan Keating recorded the song for his 2002 album Together. It was released as a single internationally with Keating duetting with a different singer in each country. His English version featuring Lulu reached #4 UK, #7 in the Netherlands, #12 in Australia, #14 in Belgium and #10 in Ireland. Other duet partners included Jeanette Biedermann in German speaking territories, Giorgia Todrani in Italy and Kyla in the Philippines.
Other charting versions include an Italian rendering, "Grazie perchè," by Amii Stewart and Gianni Morandi, which peaked at #5 hit in Italy in 1984. A cover by Elkie Brooks, which peaked at #69 in the UK in 1987 and a performance by American Idol Season 11 contestant and eventual winner Phillip Phillips who sung the song on the series episode broadcast May 16 2012. His studio recording of the song appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 at #97. Barry Manilow's version didn't chart, but he released it on his 1996 album Summer of '78.
Seger lifted the chords and melody from a song he released in 1974 called "This Old House," which was the B-side to his single "UMC (Upper Middle Class)."
Later episodes of the TV series Cheers were impelled by the sexual tension between the characters Sam and Rebecca. In the 1991 episode "Days of Wine and Neuroses" Rebecca is finally ready to do the deed, but she's supposed to marry another guy (Robin) the next day. Sloppy drunk she serenades Sam with this song, telling him, "Get ready for the most exciting night of your life" before passing out in his arms. In the next episode ("Wedding Bell Blues"), Sam has someone sing "We've Got Tonight" as she walks down the aisle, triggering the memory and leading her to flee.
Speaking with Creem about the Kenny Rogers/Sheena Easton version of this song, Seger said: "We went over to their offices, and they played it for me. I said it sounds like a hit, but to me, it sounds like the kind of thing my mom would like. It's a little bit Vegasy and heavy on the syrup, but I think Kenny did a good job. It's actually kind of soulful for those two."