Live 1980. Rare old time footage of Mainstreet performance. Seger wrote this song about his high school years in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The song explores the promise of youth, and what Seger calls his "awakening" after being a quiet, awkward kid for most of his youth. The actual street Seger sings about in this song is Ann Street, which was off of Main Street in Ann Arbor. Seger recalled to the Chicago Sun-Times: "It was a club. I can’t remember the name of the club, but the band that played there all the time was called Washboard Willie. They were a Delta and Chicago blues band. Girls would dance in the window. They were a black band, and they were very good. That’s where I would go but I was too young to get in. It wasn’t in a great part of town but college students loved to go there."
The nostalgic tone of this song led many critics to compare Seger to Bruce Spingsteen, sometimes unfavorably. The NMEwrote, "Leaning heavily on anyone so personally stylized as Springsteen has got to qualify as an error of judgment."
Seger acknowledges Springsteen as an influence at that time, but insists he wasn't going after Bruce's sound or image. There weren't many rock musicians writing introspective hit songs about life in working-class America at the time, and with Springsteen in a legal dispute with his manager that kept him from recording, Seger had 1977 to himself.
Seger recorded this song at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama. The studio was owned by four of the guys who played on the track: David Hood (bass), Jimmy Johnson (rhythm guitar), Roger Hawkins (drums) and Barry Beckett (keyboards). The lead guitarist on the session was Pete Carr.
While most of Seger's work was done with his Silver Bullet Band, he did make a few trips to Alabama to record at MSSS, taking advantage of the talented musicians and lack of distractions. His hit "Old Time Rock And Roll" was also recorded there.