2 + 2 = ?
|"2+ 2 = 4 ?"|
|Single by The Bob Seger System|
|Bob Seger singles chronology|
"2 + 2 = ?" (spoken as "two plus two equals what") is a single from The Bob Seger System on their debut album Ramblin' Gamblin' Man, released in January 1968, on Capitol Records. Written by Seger, it is an anti-Vietnam War song.
Framed around a central, Animals-esque hard riff driven by bass guitar, bass drum, and a fuzz guitar line, "2 + 2 = ?" is an explicit protest against the United States' role in the Vietnam War and the drafting of young men to serve in it who will end up "buried in the mud, of a foreign jungle land." It also captures the general generational divide of the time:
- And you stand and call me 'upstart' ...
- I ain't saying I'm a genius;
- Two plus two is on my mind –
- Two plus two is on my mind.
Allmusic writes that "2 + 2" is "a frightening, visceral song that stands among the best anti-Vietnam protests." The original studio version had a dead stop, or sudden cut to silence, placed near the end. On the 45 version, however, there is a guitar chord added at this point in the song, because radio stations fear dead air.
It was Seger's first release with Capitol and under the Bob Seger System name. But as with much of Seger's early efforts up to that point, the single was a hit in his native Detroit but went unnoticed almost everywhere else in the US. In Canada, it was actually a minor chart hit, peaking at number 79.
The song was subsequently included on Seger's April 1969 album Ramblin' Gamblin' Man. There, any concessions for radio were removed.
Alternative/garage rocker Jack White was a fan of early Seger and in an interview he once said that "2 + 2" was his favorite song; writers have speculated that it may have been the inspiration behind The White Stripes' 2003 hit "Seven Nation Army" and its ubiquitous bass line.
- Ramblin' Gamblin' Man The Bob Seger System Allmusic.com Stephen Thomas Erlewine
- "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man". Seger File. 1980-05-01. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-17.
- Denise Sullivan (2004). The White Stripes: Sweethearts of the Blues. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 141. ISBN 1617802271.