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Friday, September 3, 2010
Rick Friggin' Springfield
Rick Friggin' Springfield
Current mood: Animated
I first became aware of Rick Springfield like most of the young adults in the mid-1980s – via the television screen in the persona of Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital and through his music video and top-selling single “Jesse’sGirl”. And I dismissed him as a pretty boy-teen idol, as did most young men my age. Especially those of us who were jealous of his good looks, singing talent and ability to strum the living shit out of an electric guitar. I will also grant that no one rocked the Don Johnson cream-colored leisure jacket with its sleeves jacked up to the elbows like Rick – god knows we tried. I looked like a third-rate Phil Collins when I made the effort.
I sang “I’ve Done Everything For You” with The Hired Help throughout most of the eighties, not even realizing that it was written by Sammy Hagar and not Rick Springfield, who had taken it to the top of the charts. I once seduced a young maiden by luring her back to my apartment to listen to “What Kind of Fool Am I” and later drove to Tucson in my friend Dewey’s brand new Toyota pickup truck, with its state of the art sound system and the stern warning to “bring some Kotex pads to put on your shoulders for when your ears start bleeding…” listening to “Calling All Girls” six hundred times – rewinding the cassette to the back to the start over and over again, until we arrived - ears ringing, at our hotel.
Gradually, Rick Springfield faded from the public eye, as I in turn grew older and put whatever memories I might have had of the singer into the dusty, shady trunk of my mind where my thoughts retired to die. My daughters were born in the early 90s and in those days, I often made “mix-tapes” to listen to the car in the cassette player. I usually included “Jesse’s Girl”, “Calling All Girls” (out of a grinning respect for Dewey) and “State of the Heart” from Springfield’s “Tao” album. Not a big chart success, “State of the Heart” was a huuuuuuge success in the Ford-Family Caravan. The twins in their car seats would stare ahead as if blinded by science when the spooky intro began. “It’s juuust a staaate of the heart… Waiting here for…youuu… in the state I’m in…” Then the music would begin and they would bob their little heads to the beat the whole way through. Always a crowd favorite.
I finally got to see Rick Springfield perform live in Chicago at a place called “Joe’s”, in the mid-1990s, with my friend Steve Waste near the place where Dillenger got shot down by G-Men in the thirties. It was shortly after the release of his CD, “Karma”. It was a small club and Rick rocked the place as if it were a 60,000 seat arena. I sweated and sang along with every song, including the new stuff, which I had faithfully committed to memory. It’s not that I was adoring or anything, I simply appreciated the music. Seriously. A younger girl stood next to me and I did my best to explain the songs and their history to her and she bobbed her head along and eventually asked me if she could lay her head on my shoulder. “Sure,” I said. It was no big deal to me – I was having a fan-tas-tic time. After the show, Steve-O asked me if I had gotten the young lady’s number. “No…” I said, smiling at him dumbly. “She was all over you, man,” he told me, shaking his head. I looked around for her and she was nowhere to be found. I have kicked myself firmly in the ass ever since. I have never had a strong radar when it came to the ladies coming on to me – it’s a curse.
I moved to Phoenix and some years later and Springfield eventually came to town and played at the Celebrity Theater. I talked Taggart into going and we turned out to be the only two fellows in the entire venue that weren’t accompanied by a gal who had dragged them to the show. I sang along like a champion to every song and Taggart ran back and forth bringing us fresh rounds of beer. We each had our priorities. There were two young ladies that sat next to us the entire time and appreciated my enthusiasm. “I took pictures,” one of them told me. “You want me to e-mail you copies?” “No,” I said, smiling and trying to finish the last of my beer before we made our way out of the theater. “I’ll be happy to,” she insisted. “No thanks,” I said. “No one will think you’re gay,” she said. “Well, good,” I said. “Because I’M NOT…” She turned away as if I had swatted her in the mouth with a Brill-o pad and I thought for a moment about how it looked – Taggart and I being there like that.
“You think we look gay?” I asked him as the venue emptied. “Oh, fuck yeah,” he nodded, finishing his beer.
Since then I have not attended a Rick Springfield concert, but I have learned that he is coming – soon – to the Talking Stick Casino in Scottsdale. I think I’m going to go… I texted my daughters to rub it in and it appears that he is giving a show nearby to where they live as well. I have offered to pay half of their admittance fee, leaving it to the 2nd ex-Mrs. Ford to foot the rest of the bill, in order that they should attend. I have decided that it is worth the price of admission simply to allow my children to witness the man in concert. They may not get the opportunity to see McCartney, but they need to see where Fallout Boy and the rest get their moves. I will enjoy going to Talking Stick to take in the show. If I look gay, so be it. At least I’ll know all the words.
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