No. 1 with a Silver Bullet
Seger compiles greatest hits (and slips in some new tunes)
By Mark Brown, Rocky Mountain News
November 4, 2003
When you see Bob Seger's Greatest Hits II CD in stores today, you'll find the two new song titles, Tomorrow and Satisfied, listed on the back label.
But you won't find them listed anywhere else, including the CD booklet and the disc, both of which list all the other songs in the collection.
Rest assured, Seger says, they're on there.
"The new material was chosen at the eleventh-and-a-half hour," Seger says with a laugh. "I was saying for six months . . . we'd better have new stuff on this, but they didn't wanna take anything away from the new album, which I turned in in August.
"At the last possible minute, my manager started setting up interviews and everyone was saying, 'So what's new on it?' He called me in a panic. I said: 'You've got to be kidding me. I've been saying this for six months.'
"(So) we just grabbed two off the new one and slapped 'em on there. We had to pick the two that sounded the most done."
Most greatest-hits packages get a couple of B-grade songs thrown on as filler, but Seger picked two songs that stand up with classics such as The Fire Down Below and Her Strut.
Tomorrow is apocalyptic and tense, driven by hard-edged guitar and Seger's ruminations on modern times, covering subjects as diverse as asteroids hitting the Earth and road rage.
"My son and I are very into science. We're always talking about asteroids hitting the Earth, science in general, physics, things of that nature," Seger says. "We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, so it's just live for today and, gosh, enjoy it.
"The line about the sun and the road rage - I just really liked the way the lyric came out." Seger also plays all the guitar solos on the brawny rocker.
Satisfied is more traditional, classic Seger, musing about life and the peace in his soul.
And Seger's confident that including the new songs won't weaken the next studio album, Face the Promise, which has been in the works for six years now.
"No, not at all," Seger says. "I turned in 11 (songs), and I've got another 15 I've been recording since '97."
Much of the material was actually rerecorded, he notes, after he discovered a new Sony 44-track, 24-bit machine that sounded better than anything he'd ever recorded on before.
"I recorded a total of 29 songs, but the best ones - there were 11 of them," Seger says. He says swiping two of them for the Greatest Hits CD does cause a problem, but he plans to write and record five more songs during the winter and give them to his old friend Andy Slater, Capitol Records president, to package and release.
"It's a great, nice thing. He really knows me, I really know him, there's no ulterior stuff going on," Seger says.
Fans have been so rabid that they've pulled Seger's copyright filings from the Library of Congress just to get song titles and sometimes lyrics for his works in progress. "A lot of them are out there on the Internet. I can't believe it," Seger says, more flattered than annoyed.
He's also recorded Come On up to the House, from Tom Waits' Mule Variations album.
Compiling the greatest hits was somewhat grueling. Some of the inclusions were no-brainers (like Rock 'n' Roll Never Forgets), but other favorites (like American Storm) didn't make the cut.
"I wanted to give the audience Shakedown, Understanding, songs that were in the movies only and weren't on my albums," he says.
Though his '96 reunion tour with the Silver Bullet Band was a financial and critical success, don't expect to see him on the road - at least not soon.
"We built up a lot of good will over the years. A lot of these older guys - Springsteen, The Eagles, me - sell out so well from the good will you build up. People just want to see us again," he says.
"As for touring this one, I've already told the band 'no.' Not for the Greatest Hits. Possibly for the new one, but I said, 'Don't count on it.' I'm 58 and I just don't know if I'm physically up to doing it anymore."
He's been offered other forums, including doing his songs unplugged, but it doesn't make sense to him.
"Stick with what you know, I say. I've turned down all the songwriter things and unplugged things because it's just not our format," he says.
Except for a two-year try at living in Los Angeles in the '80s, Seger has never left his Michigan home. He writes in the fall, winter and spring and spends summers hanging with his two children, ages 8 and 10. That's another reason he may never tour again.
"I had my first child when I was 47. I just really enjoy it. I've got the opportunity to do it. I'm financially set. And it's fun just being around them," he says.
"They want me to tour more than anybody. They love going to hotels, seeing different places, and they're both into music."
Mark Brown is the popular music critic. Brownm@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2674
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