Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Music · Bob Seger Faces a promise of a...
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Bob Seger Faces a promise of a reborn career

Rick Coates - November 9th, 2006
Editors Note: When Bob Seger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March of 2004, Express contributing editor Rick Coates wrote a piece about the ceremony and interviewed Mick Jagger, Prince, Bob Dylan and others about Seger. At the end of that article we promised you an interview with Seger, yet like a Seger album, these sorts of things take time. So after two years Seger sat down with Coates for 90 minutes to reflect on a 40-year career, the music industry today, a possible ‘Super Seger Album’ with 60 songs on it and the importance of the time he spends in Northern Michigan. Coates also looks at Seger albums in 4Play and offers a toast to the Michigan rocker in Bottoms Up/Tastemakers.
Early buyouts have become pretty common in Michigan in recent years, and it appeared in 1995 that rocker Bob Seger, at the age of 50, was doing the same; taking an early buyout from the music industry. The Chevrolet “Like A Rock” commercials provided a nice pension check. In 1994 Seger released a greatest hits album that would stay on the charts forever, selling more than eight million copies. So his buyout was in the seven figures. It seemed to Seger fans that he was done.
But nothing about Bob Seger’s career has been conventional. He was a regional hit during the ’60s and as his 30th birthday came and went, it seemed reaching a national audience was slipping away. At the age of 33 he finally hit the big time, and from the mid-’70s until the early ’80s Seger, along with fellow Michigan rocker Ted Nugent, dominated the tour circuit and the airwaves.
In the 1980s when rockers started using hairspray and wearing Spandex, Seger cut his hair and wore sport coats for photo shoots. Despite not adopting the style of the day in looks or in sound, Seger remained successful. In 1983 Tom Cruise danced around in his underwear, lip-syncing Seger’s  “Old Time Rock and Roll” in the movie “Risky Business,” connecting Seger with a new generation of fans. Seger also released several albums in the early ’80s that did well on the charts.
By the end of the ’80s he began to slow down. After 1986 he would only tour one more time and would only release two more studio albums. It appeared that the guy who defied the rock and roll age rule was seeing his age finally catching up to him.

So Seger dropped out of sight. There were rumors of throat cancer; speculation began that he might never record or tour again. He would be spotted at an occasional Pistons game or on the golf course, and he made the headlines by winning the Port Huron to Mackinac sailboat race in 2001 and 2002. 
It appeared that Seger had abdicated his throne as King of the Detroit Rock and Roll Royal Family, and he was handing things over to his favorite son, Kid Rock.
Then one night in November of 2003 the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called to tell him that he had been elected to join the greats. Everything changed. Seger was making headlines again for his music. Speculation resumed about a tour and new album.
This time speculation became a reality, and in September Seger released a new album after an 11-year absence. The critics have praised “Face the Promise.” Then on David Letterman, Seger announced he was going to tour again and that the first concert would be in Grand Rapids. When tickets went on sale, they sold out in four minutes, so a second show was added, and that also sold out in minutes, as did the show in Saginaw.
It appears that Seger is back -- though he says he never went away he was just busy raising his kids and had been writing songs all along. The question now: Is Seger back for good?
No article is capable of completely capturing the career and life of Bob Seger. Forty years is a lot to try to pack in. So I have opted to not delve into history, and rather present Seger in his own words. However, there is a great site online that is the authority on everything you would ever want to know about Bob Seger. Scott Sparling of Oregon -- originally from Michigan and who still summers here in the north on an occasion -- has compiled this definitive site. Sparling is an excellent writer and offers excellent commentary on Seger’s career, music, tours, albums and insights into the legendary Seger Song Vault. Sparling even poked fun at me in a 2001 entry over some semantics in one of my articles. So if you want more Seger visit www.segerfile.com.
NE: Okay, your fans want to know if they are going to have to wait another 11 years for the next album?
Bob Seger (laughs): I hope not. The way I work, and let’s say if I start next summer (2007) on another album, it will take me at least two years to do it. I am so hard on myself as a songwriter. I never really know the answer because songwriting is so mysterious. You never know when the songs are going to come. So I write a lot of them and that keeps me from getting blocked up. I never get what they call writer’s block because I write all the time. When the song writing gods are with me, that’s when the next album will come together, and I can’t predict when that is going to happen.
NE: There is this rumor that a Seger Song Vault exists and it is loaded…
Seger:  It’s not a rumor. I have 700 songs in the ‘vault’ with 300 recorded. One of these days I am going to have to take the time and play all these tapes and hope they don’t fall apart.  I have had this vision of creating an album called ‘Everything’ and release 60 songs at once. I have this great song, “Stranger In Town,” that wasn’t on the album of the same name. There are outtakes from “Live Bullet” that people haven’t heard. I have old Albert King songs I have recorded. These are all things that I want people to hear some day. It just seems that I am always working on the next project and I love to song write, so this project goes to the back burner and all this stuff stays in the vault. But maybe someday I will get to it.
NE: You are often mentioned in the same sentence with Springsteen, Dylan and Mellencamp -- is there anyone else out there that you feel a musical kinship with?
Seger: This will probably surprise a lot of people but I think I am a lot like Pete Townshend of The Who. He won’t put an album out unless it feels good to him. Look, I took only 11 years; he waited 26 years (referring to the new Who studio album released last week). I pattern myself after Pete in a lot of ways. We both have Taurus birthdays and we are both headstrong.
He is very proud of The Who and he wants everything that he puts out to be up to The Who standard. That is how I feel;
you can’t put a timetable on making something right.
NE: The day after the Hall of Ceremonies Bob Dylan was in Detroit. He came out for an encore -- he didn’t say anything -- he just played “Get Out of Denver.” Friends of mine at the show said everyone was amazed and people walked out buzzing, saying to each other, “Wow, Dylan knows Seger tunes.” In an interview with Dylan, he said you are among the best songwriters and he is an admirer of your style. How do you respond to that?
Seger: Wow, coming from the best, that is pretty cool (Seger chuckles, somewhat embarrassed). Dylan use to come to our shows on occasion. Once we were playing Toronto and he came out to the show after just touring Australia. The first thing Dylan said to me was, “We played ‘Fire Down Below’ in Australia and they loved it.” It blew me away to think that with all of his great songs, he was playing one of mine.
NE: So do you keep tabs on what’s out there musically? Anyone you find interesting?
Seger: I am like everyone else -- I like discovering someone no one has ever heard of. For me that person is Mark Broussard, a young guy from Lousiana. I was on Alice Cooper’s radio program recently and Coop said ‘Okay your plane is going down and you can listen to one last song
- what would it be?’ I said “Home” by Mark Broussard; it’s a screaming country Cajun blues thing.  He sings it so well. He is my choice as best male vocalist of the year. Its discovering stuff by guys like Broussard that keep me going. I use to be able to sing like that; I can’t anymore but I am doing my best -- but boy can that Broussard sing. I really like his sound and style (check out Mark Broussard at www.islandrecords.com).
NE: Speaking of style and sound, Rolling Stone wrote about “Face The Promise”: “Seger fearlessly remains Seger.” You have remained true to your sound, unlike many who try to adapt to whatever style is popular at the moment.
Seger: “I love that quote. Because that is all I have ever tried to be – is simply to be me. I couldn’t try and be something else; it wouldn’t sound right, the fans would see right through it. There is a certain music sensibility that I have. I like a blues-based rock guitar. I read something eight years ago that Tom Petty said: “We are Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and we sound the way we do because all we try to do is sound like us and to do it a little better each time.” I view it that way. I am not going to do rap or other things because it just wouldn’t sound true. I think Dylan has the same philosophy; he doesn’t try and reinvent himself – he just tries to do it a little better each time.
NE: The economics of the industry work against you though when you take that approach. Had you released “Face The Promise” 25 years ago, it would be platinum by now. There seems to be a dismissive approach in the industry: “Oh it’s Seger -- he is one of the godfathers -- we will play him for a couple of weeks and move on. Doesn’t that frustrate you?
Seger: Yes, you’re exactly right. Especially because radio is so fractured. Play lists are so tight that it’s a hard thing for people like Dylan, Petty and the Eagles and even Springsteen to get play on anything new we release. We are considered classic so when we release something new, formatted stations won’t play us, or we’re relegated to ‘adult contemporary’. I look each week at our spins and they are going down, not up. We released “Wait For Me” in August but a guy at Capitol told me it might not be a hit until Christmas. He told me that is how slow adult contemporary is. It is so different today and you have to mentally prepare yourself for that. So you wait patiently and hope that something busts out. I look at Rock’s album “Cocky” for inspiration, and for eight months it did okay and then “Picture” came out and the album sold four million copies. So that is my private little hope – that someone will grab onto one little cut and will play it a lot, and the album will catch on.
NE: Do you secretly have a cut you are hoping for, and how do you rank “Face The Promise” with your previous works?
Seger: Songs such as “Simplicity” and “Between” that are not getting airplay, and I love them.  The songs “Face the Promise” and “Are You” are other personal favorites. I think you’re right -- if this album would have been released in 1980, I would have 1,500 stations around the country playing these songs. Back in 1980 we were the most played band on radio, and “Her Strut” was the most played song of the year on what use to be called Album Oriented Radio (AOR).  I have the plaque in my basement over my fireplace, winning the award for the most played song. “Face The Promise” is a collective of my influences. I grew up listening to WLAC in Nashville, hearing all this great R&B like James Brown, The Tams, Garnett Mims, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Sam & Dave. Plus, the Motor City Gospel hour I would watch when I was growing up. All of this has had little places in my musical sensibilities. If you listen to the song “No Matter Who
You Are,” it is almost gospel, but it is country and rock and roll, so it really is all three. If you listen to “Simplicity,” it is straight R&B.
NE: Seger sightings in Northern Michigan are legendary. You must be up here a lot? How much has Northern Michigan shaped your writing?
Seger: People see my brother George and they think it is me. He lives in Traverse City. But I love Northern Michigan and with the money I made from the “Night Moves” album, I bought a place in Good Hart (near Harbor Springs). It is still there and we go there as often as possible. It is so tiny that we are renovating it so the kids may have their own bedrooms. But the place is great and it is on Lake Michigan and we love it up there. We go to Traverse City a lot to visit my brother and we have lots of friends in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
Northern Michigan has played a role and influenced my songwriting. I am very much an outdoor guy. I use outdoor metaphors in a lot of my songs. Northern Michigan is my outdoor place. I go up there and sit and stare at Lake Michigan for hours and read books. I love riding my motorcycle around Northern Michigan and sailing.  I am 12 handicap and this album dominated everything, so I only played a couple of times this year, and as a matter of fact my sailboat went in the water in April but I didn’t take it out sailing until September.
NE: Okay, so maybe another album in two to three years; what about touring in the future?
Seger: I am 61 so I don’t know. After the three Michigan shows I am going to sit down with my manager and have a pow-wow and he is going to ask me: “Do you feel physically up to it? Do you think you should do this past New Year’s?” If I do then we will announce the second half, which will be another 16 to 18 dates all around the country in the major markets.  If I say no, we will finish in Detroit and that may be it. I honestly don’t know how I will feel until I do three shows. This work is physically taxing. They say 60 is the new 40, but for me I like to say 61 is the new 59. Right around Christmas - New Year’s we will do four shows in Detroit and if I continue after New Year’s, we will close with a couple of shows at Joe Louis. I feel great -- yes I still smoke -- but I went through several medical tests including six big ones, and the doctors have given me the go-ahead, so we will see.
NE: How about a sneak peak into the set list for the tour?
Seger: We have been messing around with “Ramblin, Gamblin’ Man;” I haven’t played that song in 26 years and it sounds amazing. It is so much fun to do. There are must do songs like “Old Time, “Turn The Page,” “Night Moves,” “Main Street,” Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” and “Katmandu.” I don’t want to disappoint anybody, so we are going to do all that stuff, and we plan to throw some things out there that they don’t expect. At this point what I have to do is be ready if Kid Rock shows up in Grand Rapids or if Patty Loveless walks in – I have to be ready for her. We have been rehearsing seven hours a day, six days a week for the past six weeks, so we know everything on the record. We won’t do all 12 because I think that would be too much for people to take, but we will do six or seven off “Face The Promise.”
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