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In the song Turn the Page by Bob Seger, most of the lyrics are straight-forward. But I don't understand one part of it, early on it goes:

You can think about the woman
Or the girl you knew the night before

And then far later in the song, at the very end of the last verse:

You smoke the day's last cigarette
Rememberin' what she said


These are the only mentions of some mysterious woman. I'm not making sense of this at all... after making some more or less weird interpretations of the first part, the only thing that would make sense to me is:

He has a crush on a woman (the woman), but she is not the girl from the night before - a one night stand that meant nothing?

Any official sources or references regarding what this is about? Is it some self-biographic fragment, or...? And who is the woman he is remembering saying something (what?), is it the same one mentioned earlier?

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I wasn't able to find definitive sources, so this is my own read of the lyrics:

As you mentioned most of the song is straightforward, and seemingly autobiographical. It recounts the road-weariness of a touring singer, as he travels from town-to-town.

You can think about the woman or the girl you knew the night before

This line is ambiguous--it might be about two separate people, a woman and a girl, and it might be about many people--a stream of one-night stands. But I think the most natural read is that this is about one person, probably a fan he had a sexual encounter with in a previous town. He first calls her a woman, and then adapts that to "girl." That hopefully doesn't mean she's actually underage, but that he sees her as young and relatively unseasoned by life.

Even assuming the character in the song is a singular person, however, she's probably a composite figure, drawn by the songwriter from several real-life models.

Rememberin' what she said

Again, this is ambiguous. One possible read is that this is a character not referenced elsewhere in the song, perhaps someone important to him who is always on his mind. Another read is that she's the small-minded person who said "is that a woman, or a man?" when she saw the presumably long-haired rock singer come into the restaurant. But I think the most natural read is he's still thinking about the girl from the previous night.

In sum, I think he had a one-night stand with a fan in a small town. As a touring artist, he can't form permanent relationships, and doesn't expect to see her again. But she stays on his mind, and having to leave her contributes to his road-weariness. It all goes along well with the theme of the song, that he has to "turn the page" and start over fresh each time he hits a new location on his tour.

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  • This is along the lines of what I was thinking too. Just as you I got a hiccup at the "woman or girl" part and that's why I started pondering this - wtf is he singing about, someone underage? (He would admittedly not be the only artist making a song about such though...) Would be great if someone can dig up a source though, maybe Seger did some interview discussing the lyrics at some point?
    – Amarth
    Commented Sep 21, 2023 at 17:06

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