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Bob Seger: 'My Career's Winding Down. I Can't Do This Much Longer'

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I get Soundscan reports and your catalog just sells like crazy, even though you aren't on iTunes or anything.
We've been really lucky. We’ve gotten a lot of airplay over the years. I guess people keep requesting our songs on the radio, because lord knows I don’t do a whole lot to promote myself.

Why is that? Most of your peers work very hard at promoting themselves and maintaining their legacy with box sets and documentaries and other projects.
For a long time, I thought when you do a box set you’re giving up, you’re saying, “OK, I don’t have anything left.” But now I've listened to some of the old stuff I haven't heard in 20 to 40 years with fresh ears. It's like, "Oh yeah, I can see where people might want to to hear some of this stuff that didn't make it onto the records."

But my career's winding down. What can I say? I can't do this much longer. My manager is 70. We've been together for 45 years now and we need to stop pretty soon and turn it over to the Kid Rocks and Eminems. I guess we're in the final stages here. When I got offstage the other night I said to my security guy, "That was surreal. I can't believe I just did a full-on rock show." It's just surreal.

A lot of your fans are frustrated that many of your old albums are out of print and that none of your catalog is on iTunes.
It's an ongoing thing. All I can tell you is you’ve got to talk to management. I’ve been with the guy 45 years. I’ve never crossed into his area and he doesn’t tell me what to play onstage or what to put on albums...even though he tries. But…I don’t understand why nobody can download anything of ours. I don’t understand it. It’s a standoff between Capitol Records and my manager. I hope it gets smoothed over soon. I think we have a very good rapport lately with Capitol, and I think that’s where we’re headed. It’s just…I can’t tell you where that stands.

You seem to be one of the only major rock star who has refused to reissue their catalog with bonus tracks and whatnot.
Well, they're always trying to get me to do it. For instance, before this tour they called me a lot around Christmas and New Year's and said, "Can’t you just put the two greatest hits together as a reissue?" I said, "You know, that's just cheesy. Here's another greatest hits, and another free lunch for me." They're out there. People can buy them. If there's one thing that's available, it's Greatest Hits 1 and 2. So I don't see a reason to package them together. It doesn't seem right to me.

Tell me more about the new album. How many brand new songs have been recorded?
Six. I figure there needs to be 12.

So the new album might be all new songs, or it might be a mixture of new and old?
I haven't decided. I can tell you later in the summer. I'll start writing again around June 1st. If the song-writing gods smile on me, it will all be new. If they don't, it will be a mixture of new and old – and the best of the old. That's what it will be, whatever the best songs are is what I'll put out. Old or new.

Do you think all that smoking hurts your voice?
It can't help it. The coffee, smoking... Thank god I quit alcohol in the Nineties, so that's not a problem. But it's really coffee, cigarettes and milk. At least I'm down to skim milk now, but they're all drying agents. I try to hold each cigarette as long as I can without smoking them. I'm trying to cut down.

Tell me your routine before going onstage.
I play songs on the piano. Because I'm 65, I'll be reading lyrics that I screwed up the night before. They're all here in this binder. I've got my acoustic guitar and usually I'll play "Night Moves," "Against The Wind" and "Mainstreet" on guitar. Then I'll play three on the piano.

Is Kid Rock going to be on the next album?
I recorded a new song with Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow just a month ago. I was recording in Nashville and it happened to be the night that Rock was playing in town. I texted him and said, "After the show, if you and Sheryl want to come out and sing, come over." Sheryl lives in Nashville. They came by and did a beautiful job on a song called "Hannah." It's a pretty little song. It's not a hit or anything, but it's a pretty song with a nice melody. It's a father to a daughter song.

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“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

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