"Ah, but I was so much older then/I'm younger than that now."
John Hiatt sounds like he understands the famous line from Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages." Like all life forms, he's getting older according to the calendar, but feels like he's turning back the clock as a songwriter.
Who: John Hiatt & The Combo, with Mavis Staples
When: 7 p.m. Friday, July 5
Where: Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville
Tickets: $35 for lawn; $26 for ages 12 and younger
Call: 541-773-6077 or see www.brittfest.org
"My motto is 60 is the new 12," Hiatt quipped during a telephone interview last year.
He's not joking about feeling young again, at least when he's working on music.
"I've been sort of re-energized, I guess," Hiatt says. "Turning 60 has got me pumped up. I don't know why, but it feels good. I feel reconnected to when I was younger, like before I got to Nashville and was playing straight-up rock and roll, covering the Rolling Stones and the Who and that period of influence — before I got more into roots stuff in my 20s."
Hiatt will perform Friday, July 5, at the Britt Pavilion, 350 First St., Jacksonville. Gospel singer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Mavis Staples will open the show at 7 p.m. Songwriter and guitarist Buddy Price, aka Sam Cavanaugh, will perform at 6 p.m. on the Table Rock Stage. Tickets cost $35 for lawn seating; $26 for ages 12 and younger. Tickets can be purchased online at www.brittfest.org, at the box office, 2016 W. Main St., Medford, or by calling 541-773-6077.
Hiatt's renewed passion is showing up in a tangible way. His 21st studio album, "Mystic Pinball," released last year in September, is his fourth in five years, following 2008's "Same Old Man," 2010's "The Open Road" and 2011's "Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns."
Hiatt emerged in 1974 with the CD "Hangin' Around the Observatory," and early in his career pursued a rocking pop sound that earned him comparisons to the likes of Elvis Costello.
In 1987, his album "Bring the Family" found him honing in on a rootsy rocking sound. It wasn't a major commercial success. But it included the original version of "Thing Called Love," which Bonnie Raitt turned into a hit years later.
Next came "Slow Turning," an album that cemented Hiatt's place among the top ranks of songwriters. He's been one of the music world's most consistent artists ever since, turning out an unbroken string of albums that have ranged from good to superlative. "Mystic Pinball" is one of his best efforts.
"I just wanted to lighten up a bit and play some rock 'n' roll and have some fun," Hiatt says.