In the fifth row – or not

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View from the fifth row in Sahuarita, Arizona.

I’ve been working on a little song in anticipation for the upcoming Rick Springfield concert at the Arizona State Fair this month.

In a sense, it’s a follow-up to “One in a Million,” a song I wrote back in January 2015 about the difference between how a fan views a rock star and how a rock star views fans. That was before my first RS concert in 15 years.

This one, “In the Fifth Row,” is about the feeling a longtime RS fan has at a show. (It could apply to a longtime fan of any musician, really.) Although I’ve now seen him six times since March 2015, I’ve felt this way each time.

In the past, my seats have ranged from 30th row (but moved to 17th row when I found empty seats after the opening act), to right at the stage (because there was some empty space there) so I’ve been really fortunate to have some nice views.

For this next show, which is the only scheduled full-band show from now until December, I have tickets in the, as you may have guessed, fifth row. Here’s the song, which is only one minute long:

Here are the lyrics:

In the Fifth Row

I’m in the fifth row, you don’t know me
I’m one of the faces in the crowd
I’ve been listening to your songs for decades
Tonight I’m gonna sing them out loud

Hello from the fifth row, sorry to stare
I can’t believe it’s really you up there
So long ago and so many years
And right here in front of me

I’m in the fifth row, can you see me?
I may look older, but I’m young inside
All of my worries wash away with your music
A refuge from the storm of life

After the last note fades
Reality invades
We go our separate ways.

Unfortunately, in my zest to purchase the tickets to the show as soon as they went on sale, I didn’t confirm the date and now it appears that I have a family conflict and I won’t be able to go to the concert. I’m so, so, so, so, SO sad about that, but I know family has to come first. If it was one night earlier or one night later I could do it, but not that night. I so wish he could just switch nights with Marilyn Manson or Old School Jam, but that’s not likely.

I feel silly feeling so sad about it because there are so many other people dealing with all kinds of horrible things like the aftermath of hurricanes and earthquakes and fires and floods and the massacre in Las Vegas and  I’m sitting here bummed out because I can’t go see my favorite rock star in concert for the seventh time in three  years. Pretty pathetic, I know, and I need to get over it.

The year I started this blog, he was in Phoenix twice – once in May 2014 to sign copies of “Magnificent Vibration” (it was an interview video I saw from this visit that ended up being the spark that started this blog) and in July 2014, a few days after I saw that interview.

So hopefully it won’t be too long until he is back in town again. Is the “Magnificent Vibration” sequel coming out anytime soon? Maybe I’ll just go hang out at the fair during the day of the show in case RS wanders through the fairgrounds in search of funnel cake.

Side note:

I know most of you are reading this blog for Rick Springfield content, but on the off chance that anybody is following the songwriting storyline, here is some additional information about the song:

I recorded vocals and guitar at the same time using Audacity and a Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Generation) USB Audio Interface. It took about 50 tries to get this version and it still didn’t come out exactly the way I had hoped, but I pretty much hit all the notes in this version and it was the best of all of them so I decided to go with it.

I also revised the song quite a bit throughout the process because some of the verses ended up sounding a little stalkerish, which was not my intention, and hopefully I’ve gotten rid of anything that could be construed that way. Hope you enjoy it!

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Another legend gone: Tom Petty

There’s such collective sadness in our world today. Not only is there still the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and fires, there’s the horrifying news out of Las Vegas of the mass shooting at an outdoor concert, with 58 confirmed dead and more than 500 injured. Then on top of that, news that legendary rocker Tom Petty died at age 66.

Although I don’t know much about his personal life or never saw him perform live, he’s another one of those singers whose music I’ve always enjoyed and who has been part of the musical backdrop of my life. Thank you, Tom Petty, for the four decades of music. The song I found myself singing the most through the years was “Free Fallin’,” especially each time I passed a sign for Ventura Boulevard. Then there were those MTV videos that come to mind: “Don’t Come Around Here No More” and “You got Lucky.” But there were so many other songs: “I Won’t Back Down,” “Learning to Fly,” “American Girl,” “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” “Into the Great Open” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” are only a few I enjoyed through the years. Then there were also the Traveling Wilburys songs.

Hard to believe this video was from just last week, a week ago today.

Between this and the deaths of the attendees of last night’s concert in Las Vegas, it’s another reminder how precious life is and how none of us know how much time we have left. So let’s just be kind to each other and help one another when we can, OK?

If the boy wants to play the guitar…

Despite doctor’s orders regarding his torn tendon, apparently RS played guitar at his last show.

Cue that teenybopper/mother hen syndrome I mentioned in a previous post: Yay, he’s playing guitar again, he looks so cool with that guitar, I’m so glad to see he’s playing it again. Wait, what about the doctor’s orders not to play? He better be careful. (And then there’s that self-centered teen-like response – he has to heal so he can play guitar at MY show in October…)

As if it’s even my business AT ALL what he does. But still.

Anyway, from the videos I saw of him NOT playing guitar – when his arm was in a sling – it looked like it was very difficult for him to perform without it. He sure played a mean tambourine though, smacking it to the beat against the mic stand. I also saw a clip from a song where he played tambourine AND harmonica – so both hands were busy.

But fortunately, RS is not one to give up. He may have made a great chicken farmer (circa 1979 when he lived in “the Burbs: Glendale, California” with chickens in his backyard, according to his autobiography) or a fabulous stained glass artist (aka the story behind his song “Jessie’s Girl”), but he refused to give up his dream to be a successful musician.

So here he is, at age 68, still making music (what lucky fans we are) and despite the periods of time his dream got diverted, he’s still going strong. Doctor’s orders or not (but, please be careful)! So inspiring to those of us who may be going through challenging times of our own.

(Oh, and a shout-out to his band for carrying him through this time, especially George who is playing the guitar during the acoustic shows. You guys are great!)

The teenybopper/mother hen syndrome

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I’m not sure if this is something that happens to longtime fans of other rock stars, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been experiencing what I’ll call the teenybopper/mother hen syndrome.

I’ve noticed it emerging in the past, such as when RS continues his shows when he has the flu or when he sits on stage chugging cough syrup to get through the evening. But it was evident again this past week after he performed right after his surgery for a torn tendon.

Here’s an example of the internal dialogue:

Yay, people are live streaming videos from tonight’s concert! Those fans are lucky and I feel bad for the fans of the two Canadian shows that got cancelled, but it’s good that he took time to heal. Ooh, he’s wearing a red shirt, he looks so good in red. Poor thing, with his arm in his sling and not being able to play guitar. But it’s good that he’s following his doctor’s orders and not playing guitar while his arm heals. He’s so cute, but he really shouldn’t be holding his microphone in that hand or swinging his arm around that hard, it’s probably going to cause more pain later. Why is he jumping up and down, what about his twisted ankle? Is he really going into the crowd for “Human Touch?” Those fans better be careful not to hurt his cracked rib. I wish I was there to get a human touch. 

Etc., etc.

I think this syndrome may be deeply rooted in a longtime fan’s psyche and is caused by the initial stage of fandom when a teenager, combined with now being a mother. (It wasn’t until recently that I realized that he’s only a few years younger than my parents – in those years decades ago when his posters filled my teenage bedroom walls, I don’t think that occurred to me at all.) It’s pretty cool when you think about it, how he was the first crush of so many of the women who are in today’s audiences. And although we look much different than we did at those shows in the 1980s, that part of us inside still shines through at RS shows in 2017.

But enough of that, here are some of the red shirt videos from the Sept. 1 Vancouver show (The words on his sling say “I know what you want,” a phrase that has also been on guitar pics at recent shows so likely a song off the upcoming “The Snake King.”) Wishing RS a speedy recovery! (Be careful out there, RS. Get some rest and listen to your doctor.)

Close to the one-year mark

In the last few days, I’ve received several notifications of upcoming Rick Springfield shows. There are full-band shows, Stripped Down shows, co-headlined acoustic shows with Richard Marx and co-headlined shows with Pat Benetar and Neil Giraldo. One thing they have in common is that none are in Arizona.

Sure, I’m happy for fans in all those cities and am grateful for all the photos and videos they will hopefully share, but it’s getting very close to the year-mark of being at a RS show so I’m starting to feel the withdrawal. In fact, a year ago one month from tonight, was the last time he was town.

I already feel the virtual glare of fans in Australia or other places that may not have had a RS show in years or decades, and I know I’ve been spoiled (a total of five Arizona concerts in 2015 and 2016) but, c’mon, we’re neighbors (state neighbors). It’s just a one-hour flight for most of the band. You don’t even have to bring any equipment, we have some guitars and a keyboard you can use. Sorry, Siggy, you’d have to bring your own bass and Jorge, you may have to use the ottoman (think retro-style, like the demo of “Jessie’s Girl”). It can be a casual get-together with your Arizona fans (and if you want to make a road trip of it, there are probably some California fans who would charter a bus). Doesn’t that sound fun?

Anyway, fortunately shows seem to be added on a regular basis (like that time in 2015 when I broke down and bought tickets for a Vegas show only to find out a few days later that tickets were going to go on sale for a concert that same week only a few miles away.) So there’s still hope that there will be a nearby show in 2017.

Meanwhile, there has been news that RS and the band have been in the studio to work on the next album, which RS has said will be blues-y. So there’s a chance that he’ll play one of the new songs at one of these upcoming shows, which would be pretty cool, too, and if people share it online, that will help withdrawals – so thanks in advance.

Two lines

Two days and 17 years ago I was at a Rick Springfield concert but until today I hadn’t found my journal from that year so I had no memory of it; it wasn’t until I noticed the anniversary date on somebody’s Facebook post that I realized I had been at that particular concert.

Today I realized that my notebook from that year wasn’t with my earlier ones because I had recently moved so it was part of my current life (current at the time) rather than my past and was in a different place.

I found the notebook and since past RS shows had resulted in at least a page of details about the show (or long blog posts, after 2014), I couldn’t wait to see what I had written about it.

I quickly turned through the pages to find the date: 5/5. There were only two lines: a mention of the concert, who I went with and where it was. Two lines, no details.

The pages before and after were filled with heartbreak and dating drama, which reminded me of that relationship from so long ago that so consumed me. It also appears that I was recording my dreams that year, as many entries are fragments of dreams, probably written right after I woke up.

There were also lots of entries of  lyrics – some of them with melodies I remembered; the lyrics remind me how I was feeling at that time.

For instance, this one:
You climb into his car, you fly to the moon
You think it’s a brand new melody, but it’s just the same old tune
You smile at his stumbling, you’re touched by his thoughtful gaze
You think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime, but it’s just one of those days…

After that 5/5 concert in 2000 (my sixth RS show)  I wouldn’t see RS in concert again until 15 years later. And by the time that concert occurred, I had been writing this blog for eight months, after coming across a TV interview after his novel was released.

Why is it that back in 2000, a RS mention was two lines in a journal and now, in my 40s, I’ve written over 260 posts on a blog about him, a process that provided inspiration to start writing songs again? In this early months of this journey, my goal was to record some of my old songs so they’d exist outside of my head and I’ve only recorded a couple of them so far because I’ve been so busy writing new ones instead. If I would have been so inspired 17 years ago, who knows how many songs I’d have by now or what I would have done with them.

Maybe because sometimes when your head gets clouded with negative things, it’s more difficult to recognize hints of inspiration. Or maybe things are happening the way they are – when they are – for a reason and you can’t look backward, only forward.

Stripped Down two years tonight

Two years ago tonight, I was hanging out with Rick Springfield.

OK, maybe “hanging out” is an exaggeration, but I did spend the evening in his presence. First during his “Stripped Down” show in Tucson and then during my longest interaction ever with him (I’ve “met” him four times – once in 1999 for an autograph at a music store, once in 2015 for a pic at a meet and greet, two years ago tonight and once last summer for a two-second selfie.)

I wrote about the actual encounter two years ago (click here  to see that post), but it was so close to not happening at all, so I treasure it even more.

My family and I were going through a difficult time financially – my husband was in the process of looking for a job and buying tickets to the show in Tucson (a two-hour drive) seemed irresponsible because we had so many other expenses. Then our fridge broke and tickets for a concert weren’t even a possibility.

Then on the afternoon of the show, my husband heard back from one of the jobs he had interviewed for and he called me to let me know he got the job. And my mother-in-law was in town staying at our house so she could be there with the kids. My dad lent us money for the tickets (he probably would have anyway, even without the job offer, but it didn’t seem right to ask before we knew funds would soon be coming in). My husband knew how badly I wanted to go to the concert so a few hours before it started, we bought tickets and headed to Tucson for the evening.

It was a wonderful show and although I don’t even remember exactly what I mumbled to RS after the show, he laughed and gave me a big hug so that was nice. I even remembered to introduce him to my husband and they shook hands.

It’s kind of funny that these few minutes left images imprinted in my mind (in addition to the photo that captured our brief encounter) and here I am recounting it two years later, yet to RS, it was just one more night of work and one more visit with devoted fans hanging around after the show. I hope he realizes how much these little encounters are treasured by his fans and how much they are appreciated.

RS Marquee-Tucson

Live from Germany

I just wanted to reflect for a moment on the coolness of what just happened.

I was folding laundry on a sunny Phoenix spring afternoon and took a break for a few minutes to watch my favorite rock star perform live with a symphony orchestra in Berlin, along with thousands of other RS fans from around the world.

Pretty amazing.

It sounded so great – and thanks to those who made it happen.

Now back to the laundry.

See it here. (The concert, not the laundry.)

A mysterious message from Germany

This mysterious message appeared across RS social media sites yesterday, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:

This is a sweet distraction from real life, which is a bit crazy at the moment, so I embraced the distraction.

What could this be? Will he be performing one of his new songs live? Will he be performing a song in German? When he says “Saturday afternoon,” what does he mean by that? There’s a nine-hour difference between Phoenix and Berlin so afternoon in Berlin is  pretty early in the morning here. Hmmm… It’s about 1 a.m. in Berlin as I am writing this so we should probably get an update in a few hours…

OK, that sounded a little neurotic, I realize that. But RS crushes are apparently all the rage these days so it’s OK.

Actress Helen Hunt recently shared her attempt at dating RS back in the 1980s:

And apparently Kellyanne Conway, adviser to President Trump, also had a thing for RS, revealing in her high school yearbook that she was destined to kiss Rick Springfield at least once.

Anyway, it’s been fun following the “Rock Meets Classic” tour in Germany via social media. Some of the Google-translated stories are pretty amusing, too, such as this one, titled:

How the old sings… In the ‘Rock Meets Classic,’ well-dressed rock stars can once again celebrate some of their old hits. Not everyone has passed the past decades well.”

And how does RS hold up in that reporter’s eyes?

“But as Rick Springfield has managed to keep himself as slim, wiry and agile at the age of 67, his secret remains. In him the tooth of time has forgotten to gnaw….”

Oh, and one more thing before I sign off for now – there was an incredible flashback in time posted on the Rick and the NEWSflash Facebook page today: The audio of that little record that was included in the Fan Club package in 1982. I played it on the stereo of my car as I drove to pick up my kids from school and listening to it literally brought tears to my eyes. I most likely haven’t listened to it for more than 30 years and I was overwhelmed by the idea of listening to that message that I had received in the mail so long ago. When you think about it, it’s rather mind-blowing. He recorded a record in the Sound City Studios right before “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet” was released and at some point in the 80s I heard it for the last time. And then the next time I hear it, it’s coming out of my car radio on Bluetooth from my cell phone as I’m picking up my kids from school. Where did the time go?

Update: As I was writing this, this update was posted:

‘Sonnyboy’ in Germany

Here’s a Google-translated Mittelbayerische review of RS’s performance at the Danube Arena show in “Rock Meets Classic” in Germany:

Sonnyboy with lots of power

With Rick Springfield , a real Sonnyboy comes on stage. Despite his age, the man has lost none of his power and charisma. He gives the ramp and starts with “I’ve Done Everything For You”. That rocks and Springfield also shows that he can play the guitar. He uses a bouquet of roses as a plectrum and thus ensures beautiful show effects. At “Celebrate Youth” he starts an intro. The guitar is out of tune, the musician laughs “fuck it” into the microphone, straps it off and pushes it across the stage to his roadie. It goes without. After the song is paused anyway.

In the second part, continue with Springfield. He masters all the rules of the entertainment, leaves the stage, goes into touch with the fans, rises above the chairs of the arena. The man is really having fun and the hall is not only playing “Jessie’s Girl.”

(Note: Here’s the Urban Dictionary’s top definition of Sonnyboy:

Very Rare; Secretly very talented person; Lovable; Someone who has very great personality.
Younger person with great admiration for;of Someone who makes your days brighter; brings life; Someone you have great love for.)

He also did an interview with Germany’s Frankenpost in advance of the concert that covers his teen idol period, acting and a mention of his upcoming album. This answer was particularly funny (translated via Google Translate):

So !: What songs will you present on the tour “Rock meets Classic” in Germany?

Springfield: That’s a very good question. I wish I knew the answer. I will leave it to my fantastic manager to pick the pieces. However, I certainly will not play “Born to Run.

And now for some “Rock Meets Classic” videos (thank you to those who shared these!):