Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Dark Life At The Top Of The Charts

You cannot be far from a dog or life is meaningless.      
  -Rick Springfield

The title of Late, Late At Night warns us it’s dark once you open the book.  The cover photo is in graying tones.  Rick Springfield’s sporting an El Diablo look.  The memoir opens with the lyrics to My Depression.  Whew. Do not think this is a book written by Noah Drake. This is dark stuff.

Mr D, Rick Springfield’s name for his lurking depression is a constant in the book as I’m sure it is in his life.  He puts in more than his 10,000 hours. Rick finally has success as an actor and musician and meets and marries the woman of his dreams.  He’s miserable with moments of enjoying himself sporadically sprinkled in.  The success hits when he’s 29. You would think he’d be prepared to accept and enjoy it, especially after playing in a cover band in a restaurant just months prior to the release of Working Class Dog.  Depression takes a hold and doesn’t let go.

Gomer & Rick, Animal Fair Magazine 2006
Rick said in an interview that the only time he feels completely free of depression is when he’s on medication or having an orgasm, which may explain his infidelity.  I think he overlooked when he’s in the company of dogs. Rick contemplated staying with a girlfriend because he is way more attached to her dog.  He writes so lovingly about his two dogs.  Ron is the famous for appearing on Rick's album covers. The dog he rescued after Ron passed was Gomer, a constant companion in the studio and in life.  

This is a very candid memoir which I’m guessing was written without a ghostwriter.  It’s very conversational.   He confronts the missteps in his career (turning down a role in The Right Stuff to star in his own movie Hard To Hold) and his life (numerous, numerous, numerous infidelity scenes). Being a fan of his music, I would have loved to hear more about the music. He does address it, but there is more of the sensational stuff, which I’m sure his editor was keen on getting.

I wasn’t drawn to Rick’s cartoon or his first hit single Speak To The Sky, but Jessie’s Girl struck a chord (pun intended).  It’s one of the most recognizable guitar openings.  I’ve always loved Rick’s songwriting. On the flip side of that, poor career choices may have undermined his talent as a songwriter and his talent as an actor. As an armchair quarterback, it doesn’t matter what I think.  He still has a career and does well performing.  Do we need to see one more rose-destroying windmill on his guitar?  I don’t, which is why I’d love to see him perform as a songwriter in the round.  Rick, let’s hear your songs stripped down without the 80’s production. Sit next to some other contemporaries (John Hiatt, Rick Nielsen, Rosanne Cash-that’s a show I would pay good money to see!) and let them all playoff one another.  The keyboards in Rick’s recordings date them. It screams 80’s. Let’s hear the songs for what they are. 

When I managed Vertical Horizon Matt Scannel and I would talk about what a great songwriter Rick is.  Ironically, VH were on RCA Records, the same label where Rick had his hits.  We mentioned to then president of RCA, Bob Jamieson that VH was interested in covering State Of The Heart.  He gave us a look that signaled we’re not going there. As far as I know, Rick and Matt have never written together. There’s no time like the present. 

No comments:

Post a Comment