'The Distance': The Review That Inspired Me To Become A Music Writer

This song wasn't even one I'd heard, but it's review prompted me to write a rant to the NME, which eventually landed me a job...
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This song wasn't even one I'd heard, but it's review prompted me to write a rant to the NME, which eventually landed me a job...

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David Quantick will be joining Sabotage Times Editor James Brown and other former NME writers Barney Hoskyns and Pat Long, discussing the music that inspired them to become music writers at the Stoke Newington Literary festival on Saturday 2nd June. Click here for info and tickets. He writes…

The song that inspired me to write about music is actually an album, and one I’ve never heard at the time. It’s by silver-haired AOR rocker Bob Seger and it’s the title track of his 1983 album The Distance. I never heard it because I just read about it, in a review of the album by Mat Snow in NME, which I suspect now was a fairly reasoned an entertaining piece. But to the 21 year old me, Bob Seger was a sort of blow-waved Satan, a middle of the road mass murderer, and I was so angry that his work might be given serious consideration by a rock paper that I wrote to the NME’s editor, Neil Spencer, a long typed rant of which I can remember one sentence: BOB SEGER IS NOT ENOUGH. In capitals.

Neil was kind enough to write back and invite me to come in and see if I could do better. I was so passive aggressive that I hadn’t actually asked for a job, so I was slightly shocked and delighted. I phoned him from a call box and went in to the office, where he gave me a Peter Tosh album and I think something a bit punk.

Later, influenced by the American writer Dave Marsh, I discovered Bob Seger’s 1960s recordings. They’re brilliant, either insane garage classics like Persecution Smith or superb rockers like 2+2=?. As it turns out, Seger had such an awful time in his early career that he’s suppressed many of these recordings (including the brilliant Back In ’72, which contains the wonderful Rosalie, covered by Thin Lizzy). Which is a shame, since most of those songs are better than pleasant 1970s Seger tracks like Hollywood Nights and Still The Same.

I still haven’t heard The Distance.

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Here's the Cover of NME from 1983 which featured the review by Mat Snow

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