Three decades ago, a then-red-hot young actor approached Midwest rocker Bob Seger backstage for some career advice.
“He said, ‘Bob, what do you do when your reality exceeds your dreams?’” recalls the singer, who was riding high at the time, courtesy multi-platinum monsters: “Night Moves” (1976), “Stranger in Town” (1978) and “Against the Wind” (1980). “And I didn’t know what to say. But now, 30 years later, I know what to say: Keep it to yourself! Don’t let on! Because it’s just very non-productive to be prideful.”
Seger – who turns 70 in May and plays San Jose this week – never planned on becoming an oracle.
But he’s happy to share the wisdom he acquired in 50 showbiz years, as he does on “Ride Out,” his latest blues-steeped set, which juxtaposes playful covers (John Hiatt’s “Detroit Made,” Woody Guthrie’s “California Stars” and Steve Earle’s “The Devil’s Right Hand”) with zenlike originals warning of the dangers of climate change (“It’s Your World,” “The Fireman’s Talkin’”), chattery Twitter/Facebook distractions (“Listen”), and the possibility of faith in an increasingly agnostic world (“Gates of Eden”).
The “Ride Out” track alone took the artist six years to perfect, especially its first verse: “From the sword of the creator to the missionary spin/ From the atom of creation to the secrets deep within/ Illusions and delusions lead us where we shouldn’t go/ Time to disconnect from clutter, time to hit the road.”
“I’m talking about a lot of things that bother me in that song, but basically it’s about me getting on my motorcycle and getting away from the noise, into nature,” he says. “I ride out, just let it be and not dwell on it. And then you come back with a better point of view.”
The solitary songwriter is always up before dawn in rural Michigan, perusing a Detroit paper and the New York Times on his Kindle. After checking in with his family, he spends his mornings alone, reading books, like his current crucial texts “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert, Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” and Susan Cain’s “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.”
“I just read that 50 percent of Republican voters believe that climate change has to be taken into consideration, so people are catching on. Finally,” he says.
What can one man do to stave off mankind’s pending extinction? “Well, I just tell everyboy to read Naomi Klein’s book and be honest with themselves – how about that?” Seger says. “If people had a conscience about how they made their money? That would be a good start. Because we have got to take care of this planet.”
IF YOU GO
Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
Where: SAP Center, 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
When: 7:30 p.m. March 5
Tickets: $51 to $111.25
Contact: (408) 287-7070, www.ticketmaster.com