It’s been a decade since Motor City mainstay Bob Seger has toured. But that doesn’t mean the 61-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer hasn’t been hitting the road.
If he can, he says, he’ll do 300 miles a day on one of his three vintage-chassis Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide motorcycles.
"And I don’t have a windshield, either — I don’t believe in ’em. Of course, I have a helmet and face shield, though. But I’m a real hard-core guy, and that’s a really spiritual time for me, on my Harley. A really quiet time when I just take in nature and enjoy the wind, the trees, the fields and any animals I might see," he says.
Seger is posed astride a chopper on the cover of "Face the Promise," his new, already platinum Capitol comeback album; his tour comes to Oakland this week.
His bike will be with him. "Because I’ve always got these two certain things that I do while I’m in Oakland," he explains. "I’ll ride to Seal Rock, out west of town, and watch the seals. And then I’ll cross the Golden Gate Bridge and go up to Stinson Beach overlook."
If Seger sounds Zenlike, it’s for good reason. He’s learned many life lessons of late, several of which he maps out songs on the new album —all delivered in the same growl that landed him a Legends of the Jukebox Award for "Old Time Rock & Roll," the most-played song by a male artist in arcade history.
Yet he hasn’t found a new belief system. He says, "It’s really not religion as much as it is just common sense — it’s a Midwest thing. I’ve never lived on the coasts and gotten caught up in the flash and the dash, so for me it’s family and old friendships. You try to be honest with people, you try to reward loyalty, and you take the responsibility — in my case, for my kids, who are 11 and 14. I can’t drop the ball on that. I’ve got a great wife, we’ve been together since ’89. So that’s a really good foundation."
In fact, Seger signed off concerts simply so he could watch his children grow up. And for the first 30 dates of this tour, he’s been jetting home after every show to see his kids get up in the morning.
It’s all about inner peace, says the singer, whose journey began with late-’70s smashes "Night Moves" and "Stranger In Town"; the more reflective 1980 follow up, "Against the Wind," found him "starting to question what it all meant, once you reach that level of fame."
Now he has a cabin on 20 secluded Michigan acres in Clarkston, 12 miles north of his family digs in Orchard Lake. "And if it’s nice out, I’ll just be sitting on my front porch, writing lyrics. I’ve got deer, rabbits, hawks, owls and just tons of robins."
His Wide Glide troika is parked nearby, should he crave some asphalt. And the best part? "If my bike broke down on the road, I could actually fix it," Seger laughs. "I’m a Detroit guy, so I’m a gearhead, very mechanically inclined. … What’s that Ishmael says in ‘Moby Dick’? ‘I have an itch for things remote.’ That’s me."
Where: Oracle Arena, 7000 Coliseum Way, Oakland
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (415) 421-8497 or www.ticketmaster.com