Pop star Kid Rock, pictured here in a screen
capture, showed his Michigan pride by filming part
of his "Born Free" video at Pictured Rocks National
Lakeshore near Munising.
By STEVE SEYMOUR
Michigan-born pop star Kid Rock has been praised for his "Born Free" video, which includes scenes shot at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising.
With hits like "Bawitdaba," "Cowboy" and "Forever," Rock is a music superstar with millions of fans.
The 39-year-old musician impressed Upper Peninsula locals when he showed up on Oct. 13 to film sequences for the promotional clip at Miners Beach and other nearby locations.
Rock arrived at Sawyer International Airport outside Marquette, traveled by limo to Munising, and flew home later the same day with filming completed. Before leaving, Rock posed with fans for photos and signed autographs.
A helicopter was used to create sweeping aerial views of the surrounding area, including some impressive sandstone cliffs.
Those scenes were combined with footage taken near the musician's home in downstate Oakland County.
The video's freedom theme is re-enforced with film of Rock riding his motorcycle and driving a convertible in the Clarkston and Ortonville areas.
Those scenes were filmed on Oct. 8, and include Rock tooling around in his tricked-out 1964 Pontiac Bonneville, once owned by Audry Williams, mother of Hank Jr.
The video occasionally uses a split screen to dramatic effect.
Produced in just a few weeks, the "Born Free" video premiered Nov. 4 on MTV, VH1 and Country Music Television.
Composed by Rock and guitarist Marlon Young, "Born Free" is the title song from the album which debuted Nov. 16. The country rock song peaked at No. 31 on Billboard's "Rock Songs" list and also charted in Australia, Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland.
The cover depicts Rock relaxing in the white Pontiac, his cowboy boots matching the car's western-style interior.
For the album, Rubin recruited an all-star band including drummer Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, keyboardist Benmont Tench from Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Los Lobos guitarist David Hidalgo and Matt Sweeney, guitar player for Chavez.
Guest musicians on the album include Martina McBride, Trace Adkins, Zac Brown, James Hetfield and T. I.
With the new album recorded at various California studios, Rock's Michigan-based Twisted Brown Trucker band stayed home this time around.
The 12-track CD has received mostly positive reviews and peaked at No. 5 on the Top 200 Albums chart and topped the Top Rock Albums list.
Rock had a hand in composing all the songs, with his share attributed to RJR Music Publishing at BMI.
A multi-instrumentalist, Rock is proficient on guitar, bass, banjo, dobro, drums, keyboards and harmonica. For the "Born Free" album, however, Rock concentrates on his lead vocals and leaves the playing to his crack back-up band.
Reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted a distinct similarity between Rock's new effort and classic Seger albums like "Against the Wind" and "The Distance." It's a accurate observation and Rock doesn't hide his admiration for Seger and what critics have dubbed "heartland rock."
In fact, Seger demonstrates his piano-playing skills on "Collide," a "Born Free" number which also features Sheryl Crow on vocals. Rock has collaborated with Seger previously, even modeling his "Live Trucker" album cover after the Hall of Famer's classic "Live Bullet."
The "Born Free" single received an early push when it was used during television coverage of the 2010 Major League Baseball playoffs.
Rock, once known exclusively as a rapper, performed at the Country Music Association awards on Nov. 10 and the American Music Awards on Nov. 21. In addition, he promoted "Born Free" with a halftime performance at Ford Field in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day when the Lions hosted the New England Patriots.
The singer will return to the stadium on Jan. 15 for the opening gig on his upcoming "Born Free" tour. Rock will turn 40 just two days later.
In a news release, Rock announced the Detroit concert will be a party for himself and "60,000 of his closed friends."
Rock's success with "Born Free" comes three years after he issued the single "All Summer Long" which mentions "northern Michigan" prominently in its lyrics.
Borrowing bits from Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London," the song tells the nostalgic story of a 1979 trip the singer made to an unspecified area in the north of the state where he fell in love with a 17-year-old girl.
The infectious tune includes the line: "It was summertime in northern Michigan."
"All Summer Long" became another world-wide hit for Rock.
Born in Romeo, Mich. as Robert James Ritchie, Rock has released ten albums and been honored with five Grammy Award nominations.
Since his early days as a rapper, Rock has been a musical chameleon incorporating heavy metal and even country into his act.
Once married to actress Pamela Anderson, Rock could have deserted his home state.
Millions of people have seen "Born Free" on television. At the video-sharing site YouTube alone, "Born Free" has been viewed 1.3 million times.
That massive exposure for the Upper Peninsula couldn't be matched with an expensive advertising campaign.
Potential tourists have been curious about where "Born Free" was filmed and some would doubtless like to visit such a picturesque place, ready to spend their tourist dollars.
With such global interest in the U. P., perhaps this story will one day be rewritten as "Kid Rock video propels U. P."
So, thanks Kid Rock for the "Born Free" publicity.