Coming to the end of the season here in southern Nevada, and the snowbirds have begun heading back north to places with less irrational weather (average summer day in Laughlin/Bullhead City: 112). Nevada of course switched to Daylight Saving, so this is the half of the year we’re on the same clock as Arizona, which is on Mountain Time, but is also the only state that has the good sense to ignore the time change. I rather like it when they’re an hour ahead, actually — it’s fun to feel like a time traveler just by crossing the river.
The snowbirds are beginning to think of making their way home now (though if it keeps snowing the way it has in the snow-prone parts of the country this spring, some of them may decide that year-round desert living isn’t that bad a deal). So as they get out of Dodge, a.k.a. Laughlin, let’s get out of Denver with Bob Seger:
Link for the e-mail people, in Denver and elsewhere.
When I first heard this song, a thousand years ago, I was an ill-informed little rock fan and thought of Creedence’s “Travelin’ Band.” Similar energy, somewhat similar melody. But on listening to “Get Out of Denver” for the first time in years, it dawns on me that, duh, it’s not that, it’s this:
As one writer put it rather sweetly, the Seger song “samples” “Johnny B. Goode,” which was not a term anybody used in the ’70s, but of course the lift is intentionally obvious and was certainly understood as a tribute. (It’s so obvious, in fact, that I checked the ASCAP site to see if Chuck got a co-writing credit. Nope.) But be that as it may, “Get Out of Denver” is still a kick, a tale of hippies who go out in search of fun and drugs and meet “a Baptist-preachin’ funky schoolteacher” who hooks them up with all they can use:
All I had to do was lay my money down and pick it up
Asked how much she needed, man, we lit out in a pickup truck and
Go, get out of Denver
And they race off into the night, police in hot pursuit, until “It started drizzlin’ and it turned into a thundershower.” But it’s all in vain:
The rain was driving but the Caddy* kept on burning rubber
We kept on driving till we ran into some fog cover
We couldn’t see a thing, but somehow we just kept on going
We kept on driving all night long and then into the morning
Fog had finally lifted when we looked to see where we was at
We’re staring at Colorado state policeman trooper cat
*Yes, that Cadillac was a pickup truck in the first verse.
It’s a fine rush of words on a really fun record, just two minutes 40 with a sweet chugging bassline and time for a nice long bar band guitar solo in the middle. I’m not sure why Seger’s vocal is multitracked; he was a great singer and he certainly didn’t need the help on this no-range song. So I guess it was just a production decision, to make it feel like a group of high-as-a-kite buddies on the run. Let’s check the live version:
Yep, another guy sings unison with Bob throughout. Bass player is having a good time, too, sounds like.
A bit of ’70s drugs ‘n’ hippies fun, even if it was a hair (so to speak) late for that kind of thing in 1974, but a nifty record that’s been recorded by a few well known acts — including Dave Edmunds, for whom it’s a natural fit, and even the mighty Bruce Springsteen has been known to play it live. I bet it’s a blast to sing.
And something else occurs to me now, on listening again: