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Rick Springfield | Late Late at Night (Simon & Schuster)

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Really, Rick, you should have just kept it to yourself.

 

 

 
 
 
Like any other female who grew up in the ’80s, I was a Rick Springfield fan. His music was catchy and well written, he was easy on the eyes, and I even learned a vocabulary word or two from his lyrics (moot, for one). I really didn’t keep up with anything after 1990’s Living in Oz, though I have caught a few of his concerts since then; if anything, the man’s still a stunningly good live performer.
So, yeah, all this is to say I was quite interested in reading Springfield’s brand-new autobiography, Late Late at Night (it’s a line from “Jessie’s Girl,” remember?)…that is, until I was reading it.
The book started out quite strong. Chapter one, “Three Wishes,” begins in 1980 in Glendale, Calif. Springfield has already had three major-label releases in the U.S. (does anyone remember them? I sure don’t) and has found himself now on the outs with the music industry. He’s playing shows in a crappy local bar; though he’s had some guest-starring acting roles by now, his agent hasn’t called him back in over a year. And then, out of the blue, his manager calls.
RCA Records wants to talk to him. Springfield runs some recent demos past the label; one of them, a little song entitled “Jessie’s Girl,” represents a bit of a departure from the songwriter’s prior material. The label is into it; they tell him to write more in that vein. What comes next is Working Class Dog, the album that essentially broke the transplanted Aussie in the United States. Also at this time, the General Hospital role falls in his lap. Talk about raining turning into pouring.
Springfield’s a good writer, there’s no doubt about it—he is a lyricist, after all. He often says things in interesting ways, such as: “I gather up some demos in my arms, like a mad artist picking a few precious paintings… I don’t know what they want to hear, so I’m bringing them choices. I feel not unlike Elvis…who used to wear a cross, a Star of David, and an Egyptian ankh around his neck so all the bases were covered when he went to meet his maker. I wonder which one got him through the Pearly Gates?”
I am, of course, most intrigued by the circumstances around the albums I owned: the aforementioned Working Class Dog, Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet, Living in Oz, and the soundtrack to the not-so-good film Hard to Hold. Interested, except for a few things.
For one, Springfield continually tries to make a case for facing a lifelong battle with depression, a beast he refers to as Mr. Darkness, or Mr. D, as it were. Trouble is, aside from very casual mentions of a suicide attempt at age 14 (the rope didn’t hold), occasional use of antidepressants (Prozac, here referred to as Vitamin P), and a tendency to drink too much (which he tells but never shows), we don’t really see the effects of said depression. If he was mired in it so much, why doesn’t he delve into it more, make us truly feel the debilitating effect it had on his life?
He does—repeatedly—try to make the case that his depression led to a “sex habit” (his words; cringeworthy, right?). Trouble is, said habit lasted much of his life; only recently, he proclaims, has he broken the tendency—but not without continued mental battles. First, this is a sorry excuse for sleeping with anything that had girl parts and was available to a star like him (lots and lots and lots of candidates, in case you can’t quite grasp the magnitude).
And second, he is MARRIED through most of this. (As of the book’s publication, he and his wife have been together nearly 30 years; they have two sons.) Of the early days with her he says, “She is beautiful and alive and innocent of all that goes on while her back is turned.” Throughout the entirety of the book, Springfield continually refers to his wife as his “one true soul mate” (methinks the man doth protest too much). Yet despite that, he repeatedly cheats on her every chance he gets? And she stays? (For those of you who saw Springfield’s star turn in Californication last season—a role in which he played an egotistical, sex-addicted version of himself—it seems now as if the role wasn't too far off the mark.)
So, yes, I got tired—weary, actually—of hearing about his sexual exploits, of hearing which songs were written about which women (yes, Alyson was a real person who inspired the infidelity song of the same name), and of hearing how Mr. D made him do it. Puh-lease. Take some responsibility for your actions, rock star.
My advice? If you’re a Rick Springfield fan and want to stay that way, don’t read this book. (I may have already ruined it for you at this point, in which case I apologize.) If you’re not a Rick Springfield fan, don’t read this book (why would you?). Ah, hell, let’s make it easy: Don’t read this book. It truly makes you question the level of ego it takes to write a book about yourself—to say nothing of the material you choose to include in the name of “honesty.” Really, Rick, you should have just kept it to yourself. | Laura Hamlett
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