So what was it like to be on the bill for "The Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear"?
It was a lot of fun. The Rally was billed as a non-political event, which I liked. Jon Stewart called me and we talked without any managers or anything. He's a great guy. He sent me a care package from 2nd Avenue Deli in New York. First time I ever had kosher food! That corned beef sandwich on rye was rockin'. I'm a fan of Colbert, Stewart and Megyn Kelly. I like to stay well rounded.
You're a man with deep roots in rock, rap and country at a time when the music world feels so fragmented. Is it fair to say that you're a uniter, not a divider?
Rev Run [of Run DMC fame] gave me one of the most meaningful compliments I ever. He said, "I never met anyone who brings people together like you do. That's what you do." That's high praise, especially from a great man like him. So I'm going to try and stay on that path. I just try to stay true to myself, and speak my mind -- even when it gets me in trouble, like when I opened my big mouth about Steven Tyler and American Idol. Hey, I gotta be me.
Born Free reminds me of the great Bob Seger albums that I grew up listening to back when I was a kid in the Seventies. Bob appears on the album, along with Sheryl Crow on the track "Collide." Is it fair to say that Bob Seger help set the template for what you're doing now?
Absolutely. Not only is Bob Seger a role model for me musically -- when I was growing up Bob's records led me back to all the music that inspired him too. I really discovered the music of Stax, Chuck Berry, and Muscle Shoals through Bob. Loving what Bob does led me to dig back into music history enough to experience some of the amazing music that moved him growing up. Learning that music became my homework. Frankly it's the only homework that I've ever successfully done. My biggest dream is that someday some kid will like what I do enough to dig back through my albums, then Bob's records and then back into the past just like I did with him.
How was the relationship working with Rick Rubin as your producer on Born Free?
It was a very successful relationship. Hell, who am I kidding, it's one of the only successful relationships I've ever had! Rick's been a friend and advised me before, and we talked last time about working together on my previous album. But we knew our time would come eventually. So it was like, "Rick, let me get on the highway and then you can drive us both home." Working with Rick was great.
From the time you played me "Born Free" back in Detroit, I could tell this song and the new album are very important to you.
You're right. They are. It's a strange time to be putting music out, and it's my job to try and get this music out to the people who care. My main goal is to make music that stands the test of time. If I'm honest with myself, what I really hope is that "Born Free" will become a classic. It may never be a big hit, but that's okay because some of the greatest records of all time weren't the biggest hits right away. Hell, "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams, Jr. only reached #4 on the country charts and it doesn't get better than that song. Right before my album came out this week, I was having a bad day. I felt like I had to "Slow My Roll" -- to steal a title from myself. So I came into my recording studio and I saw one of the possessions that I most treasure. It's an album that the great Johnny Cash took the time to send me. On it he wrote, "To Kid Rock, Thanks for keeping the music going. A Fan, Johnny Cash." That's what it's all about now -- keeping the music going.
SOURCE: David Wild / TV Wrier, Rolling Stone Contributor Editor and author of "He Is... I Say"