“Roll Me Away” Bob Seger – A Dedication for Max

Max and Charlie depart from West Palm Beach on their way to Seattle on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 19:47.

I was talking with Max on the phone today and I noticed that he hasn’t given himself credit for what a badass move he made last month when he up and moved across the country from Florida to Seattle. It’s really easy to miss the goodness in things we do. Our brains are wired to focus on the dangers, the risks, the downsides. All that shit obscures the view of what we’ve accomplished already and the possibilities of what can be.

I thought about what Max has already shown to himself and all of us in our family (and we’re all damn proud of him). I told Max I thought perhaps he didn’t realize what agency he’s demonstrated and all the agency he still has at his disposal (agency, as in the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices).

I thought of a song that speaks to the heart of the agency that Max has found. It’s from a guy who is so damn full of agency you’d think he’d have been earning gold records after his first couple of years on the scene. But, it took ten years of some of the hardest gigging before Bob Seger had even one national hit that went beyond Detroit and the state lines of Michigan. Famously, he was drawing 80,000 person crowds in Detroit at his concerts while in the next state he could barely fill a 1,000 seat venue. How does that happen? Well, he sure as hell didn’t have the Internet.

Seger’s real breakout album was 1976’s, Live Bullet. It went on to sell six million copies in the US. Live Bullet would eventually be cited as one of the greatest live albums of all time. Seger’s peak of success (the mid-’70s thru mid ’80s) didn’t come until he’d been a touring monster for 16 years. And even then, Seger tells how they never got a national opening act gig for a full tour until 1976 when KISS asked them to tour with them thru the U.S. (KISS was almost at peak velocity at this point and were a megaband in a decade known for the biggest mega bands of all time.)

Seger’s lyrics in this song are perfect as an anthem for standing up and doing something with your life. It doesn’t hurt that Seger’s piano and the band strike the perfect melody and harmony for action. It’s there from the first line…

Took a look down a westbound road,
right away I made my choice

In my experience, you only realize that kind of clarity when you’ve slogged through a lot of bad stuff. You want out and you’ll pay the price to get there. Yet, the journey is full of surprises and ups and downs. It’s a lot of downs. And as Seger eases into the end of the opening verse the notes of his piano shift to summon a sparkling hope while the lyrics hammer down an iron-willed resolve (around 00:30 of the song) where he sings:

Took a bead on the northern plains
and just rolled that power on.

The lyrics and melody are a perfect blend of inspiration and perspiration.

After that, the band starts to come in and at 00:42 they drop into the kind of groove where you put the song on repeat and magically the car starts to eat up the planes of the midwest when you’re driving to Seattle with your brother. Or, another time in the future when you do it all on your own and you know at the end of that journey you own that damn road.

Reality isn’t ever too far away in this tale. The hard parts are really what makes you root for this guy in the song just like we’re rooting for Max. The hard parts are what makes the victories sweet.

I too am lost, I feel double-crossed
and I’m sick of what’s wrong and what’s right

This song chronicles a real-life story that plays out every day as an act of personal heroism. It’s Max’s story, currently in progress. I don’t know if he knows he’s the hero yet but he most definitely is. Not the version of heroism that we’re fed at the movies. Heroes in the real world take chances like packing up all their shit, leaving behind what’s known and comforting, and heading out on the road on your Harley or in your Honda. Too right.

Put your good headphones on and crank this up, Max. When you get through this song you’ll see he’s talking about a journey you’ve already begun. In some places, it’s almost literally the journey you’ve just begun! You could go east, you could go west, it’s all up to you to decide. You crossed the continental divide with Charlie on Sunday, March 21st, 2021 just shy of one month ago. Look at what you’ve already done.

Keep a lookout for that hawk, she’s really out there too if you look hard enough.

Stood alone on a mountain top,
starin’ out at the Great Divide
I could go east, I could go west,
it was all up to me to decide
Just then I saw a young hawk flyin’
and my soul began to rise
And pretty soon
My heart was singin’

Max, John, Julian, Julia, Charlie, and Hashbrown, huddle around as Max and Charlie are about to depart West Palm for the next chapter.

Full lyrics

“Roll Me Away” Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band 1982

Took a look down a westbound road,
right away I made my choice
Headed out to my big two-wheeler,
I was tired of my own voice
Took a bead on the northern plains
and just rolled that power on

Twelve hours out of Mackinaw City
stopped in a bar to have a brew
Met a girl and we had a few drinks
and I told her what I’d decided to do
She looked out the window a long long moment
then she looked into my eyes
She didn’t have to say a thing,
I knew what she was thinkin’

Roll, roll me away,
won’t you roll me away tonight
I too am lost, I feel double-crossed
and I’m sick of what’s wrong and what’s right
We never even said a word,
we just walked out and got on that bike
And we rolled
And we rolled clean out of sight

We rolled across the high plains
Deep into the mountains
Felt so good to me
Finally feelin’ free

Somewhere along a high road
The air began to turn cold
She said she missed her home
I headed on alone

Stood alone on a mountain top,
starin’ out at the Great Divide
I could go east, I could go west,
it was all up to me to decide
Just then I saw a young hawk flyin’
and my soul began to rise
And pretty soon
My heart was singin’

Roll, roll me away,
I’m gonna roll me away tonight
Gotta keep rollin, gotta keep ridin’,
keep searchin’ till I find what’s right
And as the sunset faded
I spoke to the faintest first starlight
And I said next time
Next time
We’ll get it right

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