You hear it the moment the song kicks in. That ominous bass and drum that sounds like a warning to lock the doors and hide. What sounds like a badly wounded guitar adds another layer of terror. Suddenly there’s a straight line from The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” all the way back to 1966 and the snarling soul of the kid who would grow up to become the father of Detroit rock ’n’ roll, Bob Seger.
This isn’t the “Against The Wind” Seger, who still inspires millions of fans with his hearty and heartfelt American anthems (and who remains to Michigan what Springsteen is to New Jersey); this is an unhinged kid whose love of Southern soul and grimy garage rock was as incendiary as the war he was raging against on this lost single. “2+2=?,” with all of its anger, fear and fuzz, was Seger’s “Fortunate Son,” and deserves to be played as loudly, defiantly and often. It’s Jack White’s favorite Seger song. It should be everyone else’s too.
We don’t only forgive but pretty much expect that you’ve never heard this song or anything like it from Bob Seger. It’s one of the great mysteries of our world that this early era of his career has been not just forgotten, but outright buried. To hear it is to hear Detroit’s screaming white soul and, arguably, the birth of the tough, honest, Stroh’s-soaked thing known as De-troit rock ’n’ roll. Hell, when the mighty Stooges and MC5 were just signing their first record deals, The Bob Seger System was already burning through the Motor City with the same intensity and attitude, with Bob doing his part to help invent punk rock itself.