MINNEAPOLIS -- "See the man with the stage fright," Robbie Robertson famously wrote for the Band. Well, he wants to make it perfectly clear: He's not the man with stage fright -- he just no longer wants to perform concerts.
"I've already done the road," said the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who Tuesday released a new album ("How to Become Clairvoyant") and was scheduled to perform on The Late Show With David Letterman, accompanied by the young Americana band Dawes. "I started very young, and I'm just not drawn to the idea of going town to town. I think it's a young man's game too. I loved it when I was young."
At 67, he still loves recording, though 13 years have passed since his last album.
"You'd never know it from the outside, but I love making records," he said recently from his Los Angeles home. "I'm fascinated by using the recording studio as an instrument. Eric Clapton [who appears on seven of the album's songs] had no idea what I was going to do with this record and where I was going with it, and the whole sonic things I had in my imagination. When he heard the record, he said, 'That is real record-making. I don't even know how you get to that place.' "
Getting to that place does take some time: Robertson has done only five solo discs in a 24-year span.
"I'm comfortable at trying other things, broadening my horizons, deepening my knowledge in other areas," he said. "And I'm just curious."
He actually started the project a few years ago with Clapton in England, then put it away to work on music for Martin Scorsese's film Shutter Island. In recent years, he also oversaw reissues of the Band's albums and worked as a talent executive, signing Nelly Furtado.
"To be able to step away from something, it gave me a certain clarity and I was able to dig deeper," he said of the new album. "This is exactly the record I wanted to make. To get to a place that was just what I had in my imagination."