DETROIT — The latest feather in Bob Seger’s rock ’n’ roll cap will later this week, when the Detroit rocker is inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Seger — part of a 2012 inductees class that includes Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Steinman and Harvey Schmidt-Tom Jones — will also perform at the June 14 ceremony in New York, joined by five Silver Bullet players for “Turn the Page.” (The event will not be televised.)
The honor arrives amid a productive stretch for Seger, who turned 67 last month: He’s wrapping up work on a new album that could be out this fall, he’s got a collaboration coming with John Fogerty on a remake of CCR’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and his “Ultimate Hits” set has become a massive Australian hit — prompting Seger to contemplate his first overseas concert dates since 1980.
Seger told the Detroit Free Press that while nothing is set in stone — “it’s always day to day” — he’s even considering a Detroit show for next spring, which means his ruminations last year about hanging it up after his 2011 tour may have been premature.
Through it all, the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has been making a little leisure time for himself — like attending Jack White’s evening show last month at the Masonic Temple, where he and his fellow Detroit rock star met for the first time.
“He said, ‘How is it that we never met all these years?’” Seger recounted. “And actually, I don’t know. But he’s a really nice guy, and I thought his show was just great.”
Q. Knowing how much you value your songwriting, I would think next week’s honor is particularly meaningful for you.
A. It is, and for my family, too: “Yeah, Dad’s in the Songwriters Hall of Fame!” So we’re all going. …
I started reading about it — it’s been around since ’69. It’s a legitimate thing. They wanted me to (play) with a house band, but of course I can’t do that. You only get to do one song. We decided to do “Turn the Page,” the six of us on stage. I’m kind of sad we don’t have the girls and horns. But Phil Ramone, the producer, said the stage is really small.
That’s OK — “Turn the Page” is probably one of my five most important things.
We’ll go a day early and run through it a few times. I really wanted to do “Hollywood Nights,” and tried to talk Phil into it for two months … but we would have needed (the full band). That would have been really exciting, and then we were (hoping to play it on) Letterman while we were in New York. I don’t want to do that with “Turn the Page” — it’s a mood piece. But alas and alack, they just don’t have the room for “Hollywood Nights.”
Q. Where are things with the new album?
A. It’s coming along good. I haven’t really written a lot since we got off the road. But I have written one really strong one (“Gates of Eden”), and oddly enough — I’d never done this before in 49 years of songwriting — I wrote the bridge first, and now I can’t figure out how the verses go. (Laughs) The bridge is so powerful musically and lyrically. I played it for my wife and she fell over. I just need to find some way to ease into it lyrically.
I did this thing with Trisha Yearwood, a song called “The Price.” I had been sitting on it for a while, because I figured, you know, this really needs a good singer. So I went for the gold. I recorded it about two months ago with her, so now we’ve just got to sift through it.
I’d like to have the album out in the fall. I just made a CD for (manager) Punch (Andrews) with 11 of the songs. I feel really strongly about these 11. If I can talk them into it, we’ll start the mastering and do a cover. If not, it will be next year sometime.
Q. Does that mean possible fall touring?
A. We’ll do one of two tours. We’ve been going great guns in Australia. (“Ultimate Hits”) was top 10 for six weeks. So I’ve been doing all these interviews at 5 in the morning, 11 at night, all these weird times. And they really want us to come over.
The other option is places on the West Coast we missed last year — Sacramento, Portland … Punch has this thing about not playing in January and February because nobody has money to buy tickets then. So this would be a two-week tour in November.
Q. Have you always had a pretty solid Australian base?
A. I have, but not like this. I’ve got platinums and golds from the ’70s. So I have not a clue. It just showed up 12 weeks ago, started moving up the charts, got to the top 10, and just stayed there. It’s just the weirdest thing. So they’re calling and calling. I’ve never been there, so I said, yeah, I’d love to go.
They love rock ’n’ roll. If Punch gets really greedy, we’ll do both tours. (Laughs)
Q. You recorded with Fogerty (in March) for his coming fall album. How did the track turn out?
A. I didn’t want to hear it yet. I want to hear it when it’s done. There’s just a rough now, not finished. My wife says she really likes it. You can hear my voice plain as day, but it’s rough.
He’s one of my heroes. And it was great seeing (drummer) Kenny Aronoff. It was just a lot of fun. John is doing a bunch of duets on his old stuff, and I think it’s going to be really cool.
Q. So, any chance of a Michigan date getting thrown into the mix with this round of dates?
A. I don’t think so. If we do that, I think it’ll be next March. We’re excited about this Australia thing, but it’s very expensive to go there. So we may need to do both (that and the West Coast) to go. We’re trying to explain to these people it’s going to cost us a fortune to go there. We don’t want to lose money to do it.
It’s always day to day … I’m 67 now. (Laughs)
I played 18 holes of golf the other day. I usually just do nine. And then I slept for 11 hours. (Laughs) I’ve been working out a lot too, in my gym here, so I thought, “Ahh, this will be easy.” I was ready to die. And touring is a lot harder than that.
©2012 Detroit Free Press
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