For more than 50 years, Iggy Pop has cemented his status as the "Godfather of Punk." The iconic rocker is best known for his wild and often unpredictable on-stage antics.
Whenfor "Sunday Morning," Iggy said he might be done making music. But the rock legend is back, with his 18th solo album, "Free."
Iggy has always been a primal performer, an artist who literally bled for his audience. It was he who invented the stage dive. At 72, he has finally stopped: "I haven't stage dived all year," Iggy said. "I did 12 gigs. I worked the front, I'll get in their faces. But I can't do that anymore. I did it up through last year. And if I do it now, something's liable to detach itself!"
His last album, "Post Pop Depression," released in 2016, was his first to crack the Top 20 on the pop charts.
"How did that feel?" Mason asked.
"It sorta like (makes check mark), okay."
"Yeah. Exactly. It was yeah, okay, 'For those of you that didn't think...' Took care of that. But you don't have to do that every time."
This time, for "Free," Iggy is crooning over a jazzier groove: "My skills are better that they were 20 years ago. I can handle a tune now. And I wanted to do that."
To hear Iggy Pop perform the track "James Bond," from "Free," click on the video player below:
Iggy made his name in the late '60s, as the howling frontman for Detroit punk pioneers The Stooges. He remembers trying to explain his singing to a girlfriend's father: "She had told him I was a vocalist. He said, 'Well, you must sound like Neil Diamond,'" Iggy laughed. "This is in 1969. You know, I didn't wanna be Neil Diamond. Although I recognized his quality."
Iggy is the alter ego of James Osterberg Jr., who has been married since 2008 to Nina Alu, who has said, "I couldn't live with Iggy Pop, but I can live with Jim."
"Well, that's true," Iggy said.
"Are they two very different people?" asked Mason.
"They should be, put it that way!" he laughed.
Jimmy Osterberg grew up in a trailer park in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He was voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school. But when music became his passion, his father, an English teacher, didn't approve: "It seemed like a head-in-the-clouds dream to him. But at the end of his life, he took my hand and told me that I'd made my dream come true."
"Yeah," he said, choking up. "Yeah. He was a great man."
"What did it mean to hear your Dad say that at the end?"
"I was shocked at his generosity," he said. "He was trying to square things with me a little bit, you know?
"He also told me, 'You were right about Vietnam,'" Iggy laughed.
This summer marked the 50th anniversary of The Stooges' debut album. But Iggy, the last surviving member, saw no reason to celebrate, and turned down a chance to do a tribute at Madison Square Garden.
"Yeah," he sighed. "That would have turned into such a hype fest. I'm not a Madison Square Garden guy. I'm just not."
But he did accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from British GQ. He gave no speech, just "Thanks, thanks, thanks, ciao."
"I like it that way, yeah," Iggy said.
In a new book of his lyrics, "'Til Wrong Feels Right," Iggy looks back on his career. "It was really fun to do the '60s, the '70s. By the '80s, I'm getting grumpy," he laughed.
And by the '90s, he writes, he'd "become an endangered species."
Then, he writes, "I crawled out of my dark cave and into the limelight of love and acceptance."
"That's tongue-in cheek," he admitted.
"But there's some truth to it?" Mason asked.
"There's a lotta truth to that."
He remembers a moment driving in Miami, where he moved in the '90s: "I pulled into a gas station in my old Cadillac convertible. And I was gonna open the door to go pump gas. And all of a sudden, from two opposite directions, two cop cars come screeching up and flag me. And I thought 'Oh, s**t, you know?' And they both went, 'Iggy Pop!' (laughs) You know? 'Man, tell us about ....' And whatever, you know? And I realized, 'Hey, I'm in. This is cool.'"
"Yeah. Not everybody!" he laughed. "Let's not get carried away!"
You can stream the Iggy Pop album "Free" by clicking on the embed below (Free Spotify registration required to hear the tracks in full):
- "Free" by Iggy Pop (Loma Vista), available on CD (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), Vinyl (Amazon, Barnes & Noble), Digital Download (Amazon, Google Play, iTunes) and Streaming (Spotify)
- 'Til Wrong Feels Right: Lyrics and More" by Iggy Pop (Clarkson Potter), in Hardcover and eBook formats, available via Amazon