Sir Rod Stewart will not be halted.

At 79, he is going full-throttle with a busy year. Highlights for 2024 include his 200th show at his Las Vegas residency, a continuous world tour, and a new swing album.

“Swing Fever” is a collaboration with Jools Holland and the talk show host-musician’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, and it covers some classic Big Band songs like “Pennies From Heaven,” “Lullaby of Broadway,” and “Sentimental Journey.”

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Stewart, no stranger to the American songbook, had one request for Holland: “I’m not going to do any slow songs,” he remarked. “I want all upbeat happy song, which we need in these grim times that we live in.”

Stewart expressed thanks for performing songs written when a songwriter had a distinct vocation, before bands created their own.

Holland, who started his career with the 1980s band Squeeze, joked about how the paradigm evolved.

“I believe the Beatles were to fault. I believe everyone thought they could create songs after that. “So bands just kept doing it,” Holland explained.

Stewart, who has written several hits, was content to focus on crooning.

Stewart was recently in New York, and before traveling to a downtown pub to watch his favorite Celtic soccer team face rivals Hibernian, he spoke with The Associated Press about composing music, staying healthy, and if he plans to retire.

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Q: What was the appeal of returning to these songs?
STEWART: They have you tapping your feet. They make you smile. Both of us (Holland) were raised on this music. I had previously completed “The Great American Songbook,” so this felt like a natural progression for me. And one thing I told Jools was that I’m not going to perform any slow songs; I want everything bright and happy (claps hands), which we need in these dark times.

Q: What was it like making this record?
STEWART: I enjoy the entire process of doing live shows. I enjoy recording. I loved putting this album together. It was such a delight. We had no conflicts, fighting, or anything like that. It was pure delight, and I believe that comes through when you listen to it. Everything was recorded live in Jools’ studio, which is not particularly large. We had 18 people squeezed in there, so all of the solos were performed live.

Q: Was it liberating to sing music from a time when songwriters were different entities?
STEWART: Songwriting has always been a source of frustration for me. It’s like returning to school. In fact, when I was in the Faces, they used to lock me in a hotel room with a bottle of wine and say, “You’re not coming out ’till it’s finished.” Because I was notorious. I wanted to go out and enjoy myself alone. I didn’t want to sit in a room and create lyrics, and it’s always felt like a chore for me. The thrill of this album, obviously, is that I did not write any of the songs; I had a strong desire to sing them, and I chose the right guy.

Q: You’ve had a huge female audience throughout the years; when did you recognize this?
STEWART: Right after “Maggie May,” I believe. No, with the Faces, without a certain, since they were a visually appealing band. I didn’t think any of us were really attractive. I still don’t. But we did have a wonderful appeal for ladies. It was tremendous fun. You should’ve been there. (Laughs)

Q: Has your health scare from a few years ago changed anything?
STEWART: It’s all part of growing older. My thoughts right now are with our king, who has cancer. But I have made a vow to myself since I was very little. I have always played soccer and continue to do so. I play with my children as well. I keep myself in excellent physical condition. I work out a little. I’m frustrated with nutrition, weight management, and everything else. So I work at it, and I believe it helps a lot. Also, perform your due diligence. Men are known for not wanting to go to the doctor. You should.

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Q: That sounds practical. Do you have any concerns about being healthy?
STEWART: I’m not obsessed with it. Nobody wants to pass away. You do consider this as you get older, but not in a morbid sense. I’m not afraid of dying, but I’m having so much fun. I feel extremely fortunate to be doing what I am doing.

Q: A few years ago, there was talk of setting a country record. Is there any truth to that?
STEWART: I plan to do it. We truly began it. We began recording a country album. And I went off and created another solo album, but it’s in the works. The record company wants me to do it. They don’t make me do it. You know there will be a moment.

Q: What is it about the music?
STEWART: Once more. It is what I grew up with. Not necessarily country music, but rather folk music. You know, Woody Guthrie, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and Bob Dylan. Of course, I adored it all. That is all. That’s why I learnt to play guitar: I wanted to sing the tunes.

Q: Is there an end in sight, and do you envisage a period when you will retire?
Stewart: Not really. I suppose it’s not for me to judge, but if people quit buying concert tickets and CDs, perhaps that’s a hint. I do not know. I’m not thinking about retirement right now since I’m having so much fun.