A minute with: Robbie Robertson about his new album

Wed Apr 6, 2011 10:14am EDT
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By Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Robbie Robertson has just released his first album in 13 years, but the former guitarist/songwriter for The Band was far from a gentleman at leisure in that time.

The 67-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer worked as an executive at the now-defunct DreamWorks Records, composed movie soundtracks for his friend director Martin Scorsese, and oversaw various Band reissue projects.

For "How To Become a Clairvoyant," his fourth solo album since 1987, Robertson collaborated with Eric Clapton on seven of the tracks. Steve Winwood, pedal-steel guitarist Robert Randolph, Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor also put in appearances.

He spoke to Reuters about the album, playing guitar and his collaboration with Clapton.

Q: "In the past 13 years, Eric Clapton released about six records, John Fogerty and Bob Dylan each did about three. And you had a grand total of zero. Did it ever occur to you that you might want to release a few records in that time?

A: "Of course it crossed my mind, but I was really caught up in what I was doing. I didn't say, 'Oh my God, I'm sitting around gathering dust. I should be keeping myself busy.' It was never like that. I really like the idea of making a record when I'm inspired to do so, not because I should or somebody else thinks it would be better."

Q: Did (estranged former bandmate) Levon Helm's recent creative burst, fueled by a Grammy-winning album, also spur you on?

A: "I didn't think of it like that. I was just glad because I knew Levon had come through throat cancer and that he was making a record. I just thought it was great that he was able to do that and that he does good work."   Continued...

<p>Canadian music legend Robbie Robertson poses backstage during the 40th Juno Awards in Toronto March 27, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese</p>