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That's one of the reasons why Seger's songs have lasted so well and continue to be so well-loved. His Greatest Hits collection has sold more than seven million copies, and albums like Beautiful Loser (1975), Live Bullet (1976), Night Moves (1976), Stranger in Town (1978), Against the Wind (1980) and Nine Tonight (1981) have all enjoyed multiplatinum sales. In March of 2004 Seger was more than deservedly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Seger's songs tell stories about characters with whom listeners can readily identify. They are often about people who are trying to find their way through a world that has proven more complex, challenging and perhaps even dangerous than they could have imagined. Innocence drains away, and what's left is a combination of knowledge, experience and an aching nostalgia for something that has been lost along the way and must be recovered. His characters cross a line, frequently without realizing it, like a car passing over an invisible borderline at night. By the time they figure out that they are no longer in the world they knew, that world is simply a receding image in the rear-view mirror. Getting back to it isn't always easy. Sometimes it's not possible. As Thomas Wolfe wrote, "You can't go home again."
But Seger was only beginning to find his voice - or, more accurately, to have his voice heard. He was a superstar now, even if an unusually grounded one, and each of his albums routinely gathered the sort of attention (and often sales) that he had sought so futilely early in his career. The six studio albums he has recorded since that time have generated a catalogue of songs that have entered the pantheon of contemporary popular music: "Hollywood Nights," "Still the Same," "Old Time Rock and Roll" (which is not a Seger original), "Fire Lake," "You'll Accomp'ny Me," "Against the Wind," "Like a Rock," "American Storm," "The Fire Inside" and "Lock and Load," to compile a list that is by no means complete.
Now Seger is back with Face the Promise, an album that extends his legacy into the 21st century. His raw, rough-edged voice still seethes with the conviction that charged it decades ago, but the years have lent him the stature of experience and authority. Not that such authenticity was ever a quality that either Seger or his songs lacked. He has expressed the frustrations, hopes and dreams not simply of people like himself, but that he himself has felt. When he sings, you believe it.