Unsure if the song would ever enjoy any success, Seger has said in the past that he took the song, which is credited to George Jackson and Thomas E. Jones III, and rewrote all the lyrics except for the chorus. He didn’t ask for a songwriting credit, and has no control over where and how it’s used these days.
Seger wasn’t the only one who didn’t fully believe in the recording, as he told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show.
“They had a local singer on the track, and I took the track home [and] said, ‘That’s interesting,’” Seger recalled of his discovery while working with the the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. “I didn’t like the words. I liked the ‘old time rock ‘n’ roll’ part, but that’s the only thing I kept. I rewrote all the [other] words. I played it for my manager, and he said, ‘Oh, man, yeah!’ … The band didn’t really like it, because they felt like it wasn’t deep gut-bucket rock ’n’ roll like they liked to do.”
Things changed when he and the Silver Bullet Band toured Europe. “We hadn’t released Stranger yet,” Seger said. “I remember we were playing Belgium. I said, ‘Let’s just play the song.’ And we played the song, and people … went nuts for it. And I said, ‘I think we oughta use this song!’ And then of course [the Silver Bullet Band] wanted to cut it themselves. I said, ‘It’s too late!’ And I just called my manager up and said, ‘Put it on the album.’ It was the last song we added to Stranger.”
Be sure to listen to Ultimate Classic Rock Nights on more than 50 stations across the U.S. from 7PM until midnight, Monday through Friday. You can see the list of radio stations where it airs here.