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“Let’s face it: I’ve been singing real hard for 52 years."

By Hayden Wright

It was only this past October when Bob Seger canceled 19 dates of this year’s Runaway Train Tour due to health issues: Doctors found that the rock icon had ruptured a disc in his neck and suffered from a pinched spinal cord. Seger underwent spinal surgery that same month and is on the road to recovery. In a new interview with USA Today, he speaks candidly about the ordeal and his new album.

“Let’s face it: I’ve been singing real hard for 52 years,” Seger said. “That’s a strain on the upper shoulders and neck. And I guess I finally just popped one out.”

Symptoms began during a September 12 show in Rochester, NY. Seger says he felt a tingling in his hands and numbness around his body. Ultimately he was “dragging a leg,” a sign of potential neurological problems. After the diagnosis, Seger continued touring until the condition grew too serious.

“It was nerve-racking to go up there every night, singing as hard as I could,” Seger says. “But I thought, ‘You know, I can do it. I’ll take care of this after the tour.’”

Related: Bob Seger Shares Preview Of New Album ‘I Knew You When’

Today, he rates the pain at 8 on a scale from one to ten. As he recovers from surgery, he proudly discusses I Knew You When, his 18th studio album set for release this Friday. The record was written and recorded in tribute to his late friend, Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, who passed away last year.

“In the final analysis, it’s almost as if I’m singing this album to (widow) Cindy Frey and her family,” he said. “That’s the only audience I care about. If they like it, then I’m happy.”

Despite the sentiment, he didn’t want the album to veer into sentimentality. Seger says the album holds up as a sturdy collection of rock songs.

“I wanted this album to rock,” he said. “I didn’t want it be some maudlin thing in order to regard his memory. Glenn loved rock ‘n’ roll.”

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