At 68, Brooklyn-bred Garland Jeffreys — the brilliant, reggae-inspired rocker known for classics such as 1977’s “Ghost Writer” — understands that 14 years away can be a career-snuffing eternity in the fickle music business.
Still, that’s the lengthy downtime he’s gladly taken between albums, from 1997’s “Wildlife Dictionary” to his triumphant new comeback, “The King of In Between,” with its beat-poetic, mortality-musing anthems “Streetwise,” “I’m Alive” and “Coney Island Winter.”
He had good reason: He wanted to be home, fully involved in the upbringing of his daughter Savannah, now 15, not on tour backing album X, Y or Z.
“It’s not a big, big story, although it seems like one, maybe,” says Jeffreys of his absence; he appears at Slim’s in San Francisco on Saturday.
“I’d never been a father, I didn’t have the greatest childhood, but I learned what was missing in raising a child. So my daughter has always known where her father was, and that she can depend on me, and that started from the beginning, when I’d take her to nursery school every morning. And if I was on the road like I am now, I would not be present for any of that.”
Money was no issue, Jeffreys adds, courtesy of his huge fan base in Europe, where chart-topping hits such as “Matador” and “Hail Hail Rock and Roll” still keep generating royalties.
He occasionally composed during the break (“Although it wasn’t really urgent,” he says), until he amassed nearly 50 new originals. It was time to return, he decided.
“‘Ghost Writer’ is the perfect model for the kind of album process I like to go through,” he says. “So I put a great little band together, we rehearsed the songs, and then nailed them in one or two studio takes. That’s what ‘The King’ has that makes it so special.”
Jeffreys never pushed his daughter into showbiz. But at 11, the piano-playing prodigy confronted her parents, insisting they weren’t taking her seriously as a musician.
“So we paid attention to that and got involved with her creative process slowly,” says Dad, who now croons duets with her in concert. “She does take it seriously. Almost every night, I hear new songs coming from her room, and she’s got a great voice and a real soulful quality.” As Savannah Jeffreys, she’s posting tracks on YouTube.
Confident his offspring is fully fledged, Jeffreys is excited to be performing again.
“Come to the show and see,” he says. “I’m up there rocking out, having a great time. But really, the bottom line is, I think my wife just wanted me out of the house!”
Where: Slim’s, 333 11th St. San Francisco
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Contact: (415) 255-0333, www.slimstickets.com