Fifth ‘Snake King’ song: ‘Voodoo House’

With everything out there in the world trying to compete for our attention, it’s amazing that any of us have anything in common to use as a point of reference. Between all the content available on the Internet, television, radio, apps and on-demand services, not to mention books, movies and things that go on in our little corners of the world, it’s a little overwhelming.

(Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was having a conversation with one of my nieces, who is in her early 20s, and she was dumbfounded that I didn’t recognize any of the big players in her preferred style of music: hip-hop or rave music.)

So it was a nice little surprise yesterday when this blog broke its own record of views for one day – 260.

I know it has nothing to do with me and that it’s because the subject of this blog was on “Good Morning America” – and that doesn’t even come close to reaching a “viral” status – but that’s OK.

What brought so many people to this site after Googling “Rick Springfield” yesterday? Did they swoon over Rick Springfield in high school and when they saw him discussing his depression and his new album yesterday, they wanted to find out what he’s been up to all these decades later? Did they disregard RS’s music years ago and couldn’t believe he has a blues album coming out? Do they suffer from depression and wanted to learn about who Rick Springfield is? Do they love “Jessie’s Girl” and didn’t know anything about the singer and assumed he was a one-hit wonder? (He’s not.)

I don’t know. But if you missed the “Good Morning America” interview, it’s currently on the ABC News website. (And you can see scenes from his new video, “Land of the Blind” in the segment, too!)

Today we got to hear ANOTHER new song from “The Snake King” – “The Voodoo House,” which he debuted on “Harry,” Harry Connick, Jr.’s talk show. That makes the fifth song we’ve heard.

So to recap the songs we’ve heard so far:

“Little Demon”

“Santa is an Anagram”

“Jesus was an Atheist” and “Land of the Blind”

 

And today, on the “Harry” show: “The Voodoo House.” Cool slide guitar! This a a catchy song.

And now we’re nine days away from hearing all of “The Snake King.” What will be next? Perhaps we’ll see the full “Land of the Blind” video before then?

Update on July 18: As of today, “Land of the Blind” is available to listen to if you pre-ordered the digital version of”The Snake King.”

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Under a magnifying glass

There’s been a lot of Rick Springfield headlines this past week as we get closer to the Jan. 26 release date of “The Snake King.”

Unfortunately the headlines are not about how this underrated talented musician often pegged as “an ’80s icon” is releasing a new CD – his 19th studio album, with eight of them after the ’80s –  in a different style (blues) and totally rocked it. Besides those written by actual music reviewers, who all have given “The Snake King” wonderful reviews thus far, all the other articles have focused on his recent interview with SirusXM, in which he revealed that he came close to committing suicide last year. Basically many different websites published the same article over and over and over again with different headlines, but all saying the same exact thing.

That was definitely the most shocking part of the interview, especially to fans who have followed his career closely and have recently seen him in concert. It was heartbreaking to hear that his struggles with depression are not just something that he talked about in his 2010 autobiography but something that he is still dealing with today, among his touring (about 100 concerts each year), filming TV shows and interactions with adoring fans.

I think he is brave to talk about it and am impressed that he has such strength to share something so vulnerable and then that weekend was able to return to the stage to give entertaining, rockin’ performances. I hope him sharing his experience will serve as an inspiration to many people who are dealing with depression and that his performances continue to raise his own spirits.

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Celebrities are often under a magnifying glass, with the media often focusing on one specific element, which sometimes can be a good thing and other times not, depending on the situation. In this case, the good thing is that acknowledging the impact of depression on his life will increase awareness about the severity of the disease and help those who also suffer it not feel alone. Additionally, it may help others better understand the disease and how it may affect their loved ones.

These past couple of days I’ve been reading articles about Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, who RS referred to in the SirusXM interview. Both of them were such talented singer-songwriters who fought their own battles with depression, often depicted in their song lyrics. So far, we’ve heard a few of the songs of “The Snake King”: “Little Demon,” “Land of the Blind,” “Santa is an Anagram” and “Jesus is an Atheist.” One song title in particular, “Suicide Manifesto,” is what prompted the interviewer of the SiriusXM interview to express concern and led to his revelation about what he was feeling last year when he wrote it – admitting that he was in a dark place.

As I mentioned in the past post, it’s amazing how someone who feels such darkness can bring so much light into the world. Chris Cornell’s children and a variety of musicians and actors recently released a public service announcement about “The Promise” campaign. Cornell wrote and recorded “The Promise” for a film of the same name that addresses Armenian genocide. He donated all the proceeds from the song to the International Rescue Committee, a charity that responds to humanitarian crises by helping to restore health, education and economic well-being to people stricken by conflict. Sadly, he’s not here to see the good work he generated.

Bennington’s band, Linkin Park, did a lot of charity work, raising money for hurricane victims and tsunami victims, as well as for the MusiCares MAP Fund, which helps recovering addicts. Bennington committed suicide on what would have been Cornell’s 53rd birthday.  Bennington would have turned 42 this year, on March 20; his widow is planning a birthday tribute for him.

Both of these musicians turned to songwriting to get them through difficult times and those songs helped countless others get through difficult times of their own. Their music will live on.

Although I wish RS didn’t have to deal with “Mr. D” (his depression) at all, I pray that he finds the strength to get through the difficulties that comes along with it. Sure, I hope to hear new music from him and see him in concert again and maybe even have a conversation with him someday, but above all, I just want him to be OK for his own sake and for his family’s sake.

(At least we know he’s happy tonight, as he’s judging a dog show for rescue dogs so he’s getting some dog therapy. The 2018 American Rescue Dog Show will air on the Hallmark channel on Feb. 12.)

 

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A lifetime battle with depression

That was such a candid, heartbreaking interview today on SiriusXM’s Feedback show. It’s amazing that someone who feels such darkness inside brings so much light into the world.

When the interviewer, host Lori Majewski, expressed concern about the lyrics in a song, “Suicide Manifesto,” in his upcoming CD “The Snake King,” Rick Springfield revealed that he came close to committing suicide last year. As his fans know, he has been fighting a lifelong battle with depression, but it still comes as a shock to know that Mr. D (his reference to his depression in his autobiography) still holds him so tightly in his clutches on a regular basis.

The host, who disclosed that she is a longtime fan of Rick Springfield, sounded genuinely concerned by his admission, as I’m sure many of his fans are. He’s brought so much joy to our lives for decades that it’s heartbreaking to know that he suffers so much. As with many writers, writing serves as an outlet so now it’s clear why “The Snake King” has such a dark theme.

He also talked about how important it is for him to be truthful – not to just put up a facade and say he’s doing great, when that’s not the case. I admire his candidness. By being honest with his struggles, he is helping more people than he can even imagine. It’s also a reminder that you never really know what’s going on in a person’s mind.

Here is an interview he did in 2013 as part of The Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s Public Information Office’s Emmy Award-winning series, “Profiles of Hope.”

In 2016, he was part of a campaign called “Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life,” which is a series of photographs and interviews with people from across the United States who have been affected by mental illness. It debuted in December 2016 at Boston’s Logan Airport.

In the exhibit, he says this:

“I talk about my depression and the experiences I have had because I don’t want anyone else to ever feel alone like I did. It is important for people to watch me on stage or on TV and know that I am just like them and that it’s important to be introspective and recognize when you need help.”

As he continues with his busy tour this weekend and prepares for the release of “The Snake King” in a couple of weeks (which has gotten incredible reviews, like this one from The Rockpit), I wish him (and his family) continued strength as he fights this battle.

‘Snake King’ song debuts and a new video

Lots of “Snake King” action today as Rick Springfield fans got to follow their favorite rock star throughout the day, from a radio station in New York (listening live on a phone app) to a live performance (at Paste Studio)  on Facebook and YouTube to an interview on Sirius.

He debuted the song “Land of the Blind” live at the Paste Studio performance, with his guitarist George Nastos. In the interview, he explained that the lyrics are up for interpretation so didn’t give too many details about them. I look forward to hearing the CD in its entirety to see how all the songs fit together and what story they tell. I ordered the lyric booklet from Pledge Music so maybe with the lyrics in front of me and access to Google, it’ll help make sense of it. He also played “Little Demon” and “Jesus was an Atheist.” (The latter he played live for the first time at a Jan. 6 Stripped Down show in Morristown, New Jersey).

The Sirius interview, on the Debatable show with Mark Goodman and Alan Light, was really long (in a good way) and covered some of his spiritual beliefs and goes more into depth about the making of the CD. There was also talk about birthday boys Elvis Presley and David Bowie, among other things. There were even phone call and Twitter questions from fans. (But I wasn’t able to listen live.) It was a great show!

Plus there was an Instagram post today about filming a video for “Land of the Blind,” but shooting the video likely didn’t happen today unless there’s a desert in New York that I’m not aware of.

On a totally different note, but still RS-related, as well as Mark Goodman related, today I finally got around to watch a little of the “Rick Springfield & Friends” DVDs from Port St. Lucie, Florida (2013 and 2015) trips. Looks like it was such an amazing time.

And I’ll conclude this post with this adorable video I came across today about this boy who went to a Rick Springfield concert with his mom this week. My sons love making videos so I appreciate this both as a mom and as a RS fan.

Funny note from the following day (Jan. 9): I’m watching more from the “Rick Springfield & Friends” DVD today and just watched RS interviewing former MTV VJ Mark Goodman and they were talking about when Goodman interviewed David Bowie on MTV. Such weird timing because I’ve had this DVD for a few months now and just started watching it yesterday, which happened to be on the same day that Mark Goodman and RS were talking about David Bowie on David Bowie’s birthday in a live interview on Sirius. Anyway, maybe someone else will find that interesting, too. Or not. 

Three-weeks away, with more details about ‘The Snake King’ songs

I haven’t had this much anticipation for a new CD since this time two years ago when “Rocket Science” was only weeks away. Thanks, Rick Springfield, for making it so fun to be a fan!

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Now that we are three weeks away from the Jan. 26 release date, reviews by those lucky reviewers who have already gotten to hear it are starting to come out. And so far the reviews are GREAT!

One of these reviews, on fabricationshq.com, shares many details about the songs. Thank you, Ross Muir! You’ll want to read it in its entirety, but here’s a breakdown about what we now know about each song, per this review:

Land of the Blind:  “a great big slice of Springsteen-esque, melodic country-meets contemporary rock” with  “a lot going on lyrically.”  Lyric sample: “Cyclops in the White House understands it, keeps everyone snow-blind from the great West Wing; he knows the world’s gonna fry here in the snake pit – it’s the land of the blind, and the one-eyed man is king.” (Some of the lyrics are also available in the preview of the lyric book on sale at pledgemusic.com.)
The Devil That You Know: “a Chicago blues ‘n’ roll number that hollers with blues harmonica and howls with a short, sharp solo”
Little Demon: “a gritty and groovin’ blues that dynamically shifts in its second half to allow Springfield to lay out some expressive (and sadly still underrated) six-string work”

Another review of “Little Demon” on 2loud2oldmusic.com: “All in all, I will give it a 3.5 out 5 stars as I did enjoy the song and I am excited about the new album.  I think we will be in for a treat with this one.  Rick’s output since 2004 has been great and I think he has been getting better with age.”

And on maximumvolumemusic.com: “Of the many delights on this album, Rick’s underrated guitar playing really shines here, perhaps more so than on any other record in his storied catalogue. As for the lyrics? These are possibly not what one would expect either, but we’ll leave it up to you the listener to interpret what is being relayed here.”

In RS’s own words, in an interview with the Long Island Pulse: “I had a riff in my head and built the song around that riff. I needed some lyrics so the sexual angst thing works I think because of the instrumental nature of the song. All these songs are open to interpretation so I will leave the lyric part alone.”

Judas Tree: “12-bar and piano honky-tonk”
Jesus was an Atheist: “big-beat shuffle”
The Snake King: “a foot-tappin’ title track with catchy chorus”
God Don’t Care: “bar-room blues”  with “a serious dose of bluesy venom injected in the lyrics”
The Voodoo House: a “southern and slide guitar affected stomper”
Suicide Manifesto: “rockin'” (some of these lyrics are also on the Pledge Music website)
Blues for the Disillusioned: “AOR-friendly and melodically charged” (AOR is “album-oriented rock)
Santa is an Anagram: “a devil of a funny number in the rockabilly roll”

Orpheus in the Underworld: “a majestic 10-minute Americana country-blues, nods to Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp at their own, modern Americana best.”

 

More in RS’s own words, about “The Snake King, from a December article in The Oakland Press: Taking on the blues “is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I wrote actually over a weekend, got the basic form for a lot of the songs and what they’d be about. It happened pretty quickly and then I just fiddled with them over the months after that. But it came pretty fast, and it’s basically a theme record, I guess, the first theme record I’ve ever done, based on a character named The Snake King. Sometimes that character is a devil, sometimes it’s God, sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s just the news.”

In three more weeks, we’ll find out what all this means! Meanwhile, to all of you heading to RS shows this weekend in that crazy cold weather, stay safe and have fun!

2017 recap: concerts, creepy characters and the blues

I truly can’t believe it’s already time for another year-end recap. I feel like I just wrote the Bye, 2016 post and here we are at the end of 2017 already.

The 2015 recap was on the eve of the release of “Rocket Science” and also mentioned the film “Traces” that was supposed to come out in 2016. Whatever happened to that movie anyway? C’mon producers, finish it up already.

Here’s a RS recap of 2017:

New songs: At the end of 2016, Rick Springfield fans had no idea that a new blues rock album would soon be in the works (and maybe RS didn’t at the time either) and here we are now, less than a month away from the release of “The Snake King.” So far we’ve heard two of the songs, “Little Demon” and “Santa is an Anagram.”

Concerts: RS had a busy year in 2017, which isn’t unusual. RS fans were treated to nearly 100 concerts, which included full-band shows, Stripped Down solo acoustic shows, acoustic shows with Richard Marx and concerts in Europe with a symphony orchestra (The Rock Meets Classic tour). Unfortunately, he also had to cancel a few shows due to illness and surgery, although he still performed several shows while ill and with cracked ribs, a torn tendon and a twisted ankle.

Guest-starring roles: On the acting side, he freaked out his fans a bit with his portrayal of Lucifer in “Supernatural” and as a horrific pastor in “American Horror Story”: Cult.” In a recent article, RS mentioned that he would like to find a TV series to work on and I really hope that when he finds the right role, it won’t be another one of those creepy characters that he appears to be so fond of portraying.

Fans were busy, too: Besides travelling around the country to attend RS concerts (and fortunately sharing many photos and videos on social media), RS fans were busy in other ways, too, with putting together a Rick Springfield live-stream radio station featuring five decades of his music, organizing Get Rick Fit  fitness challenges and raising more than $17,000 for Linda Blair’s Worldheart Foundation through the fan-led Rick Springfield 68th birthday campaign, which was in memory of his mom, who died on Dec. 21, 2016.

For me personally, it’s been a quiet RS year, as there were no encounters or concerts to speak of, just a lot of listening, watching and writing (about 75 blog posts).

As for this blog, there were 8,894 views by 5,315 visitors in 2017 and I really appreciate everyone who has read and shared the blog (and I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my RS crush). As of Dec. 31, 2017, the blog has had 26,313 views by 14,903 visitors since its inception in August 2014 and this is the 314th post.

What’s next for 2018? Besides the release of “The Snake King” in January and some upcoming concert dates, which include a launch party in Los Angeles for “The Snake King,” an acoustic set at The Grammy Museum, which was sold out to members before going on sale to the public, and shows with the Oregon and Nashville symphonies, who knows? Maybe “Traces” will be released. Maybe there will be a prequel or sequel to “Magnificent Vibration” or a follow-up to “Late Late at Night.” I guess we will find out over the next 12 months!

Happy New Year!

2018

Making wishes come true

Although I enjoy Rick Springfield’s songwriting and music, that alone is not what makes him my favorite rock star. I like lots of music by many different artists, but stories like the one that happened last night make him my #1.

Last night, he invited one of his longtime fans, an 18-year-old with autism, onstage to sing “Jessie’s Girl” – the teen’s favorite song – with him. After an eight-hour trek from  Princeville, Illinois to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan on Wednesday with family members, Gavin Sibley attended RS’s Thursday show at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. The trip, planned through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, included the concert, a meet-and-greet and a chance to play around with one of RS’s guitars. They found out the day of the show that Gavin would also be given a chance to perform his favorite song with RS.

This kind of gesture of kindness is what makes RS so special.

For the story, pics and video, check out this story from the Oakland Press: “Rick Springfield rocks Mt. Pleasant with special Make-A-Wish guest.”

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Looking forward to 2018

Besides next month’s release of Rick Springfield’s new CD “The Snake King,” it sounds like there might be some other cool RS offerings in 2018, too.

In an article on oaklandpress.com, “Rick Springfield at Sound Board: 5 Things to Know,”  RS mentions that his upcoming projects could include a prequel to “Magnificent Vibrations,” which started as a sequel, and a follow-up to his autobiography, “Late, Late at Night,” which came out in 2010. After learning so much about his life in LLAN, I think it would be so interesting to hear his perspective on the past seven years, too, especially after following his career so closely the past three years. It would be like those books where the narrator switches between characters so the reader learns what’s going on in everyone’s heads. I’m familiar with the fan view, now it would be interesting to hear the rock star’s point of view.

He also talked about the inspiration for “Little Demon” in “Rick Springfield channels ‘The Snake King,’ “ an article on cantonrep.com.

“It was just a riff I came up with, actually while I was touring in Germany last year.* I always loved the tracks from the ’70s where there would be several parts to the song — before punk told us that was (BS) — and I set out to write something like that with two totally different moods. Lyrically, its probably the most normal song on the album. Again, unrequited lust.”

So for those fans who are concerned that RS has gone to the dark side, judging from the song titles of “The Snake King,” it’s OK, it’s just a bluesy rock version of unrequited lust, 35 years after “Jessie’s Girl.” Speaking of “Jessie’s Girl,” I just have to say that I really appreciate how both of these reporters handled these articles. So much better than article angles from three years ago. (See the  “Enough with the Jessie’s Girl references!” post from December 2014 for examples.)

Plus, learning more about the theme of the album (from the cantonrep.com story) explains more about those titles.

 “The Snake King is the character that tells most of these stories on this record, so I wrote this to define who or what that character was. He is a hedonist, a sex addict and a generally good-time dude. I wish I was more like him. The title track was the first song I wrote for the album, and the verse came in a dream, which doesn’t happen often but is awesome when it does. I woke up with the whole verse, and got up at three in the morning to record it. It really started the whole writing process again.”

Since it’s been over a year since I’ve been to a RS concert, which means no show in 2017, I also hope that there will soon be a 2018 RS concert that I can look forward to.

* “Last year” meaning the Rock Meets Classic tour March 30-April 18, 2017.

Who (and what) is ‘The Snake King’?

Two new articles posted today share a little more information about “The Snake King.”

In one of the articles, “Rick Springfield Calls Original Blues Set His ‘First Theme Record‘ ” on wxhc.com, RS says the new album tackles both personal and universal topics, often at the same time:

“It’s stuff I’ve been thinking about for a long time, and I wrote it, actually, kind of, over a weekend, and got the basic form for a lot of the songs and what they’d be about — it happened pretty quick. And then I just fiddled with them over the months after that — but it came pretty fast, what approach and what the focus. . . and basically it’s the first ‘theme’ record (laughs) I’ve ever done, based on a character named ‘The Snake King.’ And sometimes that character is the devil, sometimes it’s God, sometimes its me — sometimes it’s, y’know — the news.”

In a second article, in the Midland Daily News in advance of his Dec. 28 concert at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort, RS calls “The Snake King” an experiment.

“It’s a different approach to both the music and the lyrics and reflects on what is happening in the world and in my head.”
It is also a departure from the way things are usually done in the music business — heading out on tour to spread the word about a new album.
” I don’t really tour to support an album anymore,” he said. “The biz has changed so much. It’s now kind of the reverse. I put out a new record to support the tour. And, it’s good for my head to have new music to play live.”

The article also indicates that “that new music will be mixed in Springfield’s hits” so those lucky fans who are going may get to hear some of the new music at next week’s show.

The article ends with this:

As the years roll along, Springfield has a full plate in front of him, filled with more live shows, another book and as he says “other projects.”

Springfield says retirement isn’t on the horizon.

“I really don’t know what I would do if I retired,” he said. “I’d probably get a band together and play some gigs. Maybe drink more. I love doing what I do.”

Well, we love what you are doing, too.

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