Same songs, different medium

In a recent interview on The Eddie Trunk Podcast, RS mentioned that he’ll be putting together a new album of his hits recorded with a symphony – and writing a new song for that. How cool is that?! Fans in Australia will be happy to hear that he’s also talking about a tour in Australia.

Another interesting tidbit mentioned in the interview is that he recently recorded a Spanish version of “Jessie’s Girl” for a musician in Mexico who is putting a “Legends” type of album with musicians who inspired him.

Listen to the podcast here.

For those who are following the songwriting track of this blog, here’s a video I put together that includes two of the songs that I previously wrote. One was inspired after seeing Rick Springfield in a hotel lobby and the other one, “In the Fifth Row,”  was written in advance of a concert that I ended up not being able to attend.

They were written at different times – the first in March 2016 and the second in October 2017 – but they have similar melodies and the same chords and my tickets for the March show were also in the fifth row so it worked to combine the two. (I’m happy to report that I’ve learned several new chords since then so my newer songs don’t all sound the same.)

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Stop everything, it’s a live feed from the Grammy Museum

What a great night!!! OK, so the kids fought a lot and the bedtime routine sucked but the evening ended with a live (Facebook livestream) Rick Springfield interview/concert at The Grammy Museum.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to whoever coordinated that live feed. It’s been about 18 months since I was at a RS concert and this was almost like being there. (I was inside the museum in November last year and looked at the door of the theater at the museum and wondered if RS would ever play there, so it’s a same place/wrong time situation).

So many thoughts rushing around in my head that I may not make any sense, but here goes:

I can’t wait to hear “The Snake King” in its entirety. Tonight he played “Little Demon,” which I’ve already listened to countless times; “Land of the Blind” which sounds great; and “The Voodoo House,” which is my favorite so far. It’s funny that he says he doesn’t really know what they’re about. Is that true? I know that when I write songs, they kind of develop as they go and there’s often not an intentional planning so I get what he’s saying about songs writing themselves, but does he really not know or does he just want people to interpret them on their own? (Or does he just not want to repeat the same story over and over again in future interviews like he does with “Jessie’s Girl”?) Here are my guesses: “Little Demon” – unrequited love (or lust). “The Voodoo House” – unrequited love (or lust) and attempting to fulfill it through use of a voodoo doll? Maybe? “Land of the Blind” – no clue, but there are some biblical references there to explore. I’m glad that there’s a lyric book available.

I love how candid he is in his interviews. Not planned and polished, just goes with it and doesn’t seem to care about what people may think about what he thinks of things. It was true in his autobiography and it continues today in interviews. In a world of Photoshop and filters, it’s refreshing to have someone be so real. And it’s not unfiltered in a mean way, like anonymous comments on an online newspaper article or a rude tweet – it’s unfiltered but in a way that makes him still seem like a good guy. Plus he has such a great sense of humor.

Little things like him dropping his guitar pick during the interview in the Pulse Studio and needing to tune his guitar tonight and during an earlier interview are endearing. I go to these song workshops where you bring a song you’re working on and you receive feedback from professional songwriters. Until recently I would bring a CD that I recorded at home because I worried that if I played it live I might forget the chords or the words or drop my guitar pic or have to tune my guitar at the last minute. But now that I’ve seen RS do all of these things – and he’s a pro – then it makes those things less of a big deal. I find the whole story of his career so inspiring, all the ups and downs and how he persevered through it all. I’m glad that his stained glass master career path idea didn’t work out.

I think listening to “Suicide Manifesto” is going to be really, really difficult, knowing that’s how he sometimes feels. I also think it will be important to listen to it to be able to understand how people who are going through depression may feel.

It was interesting to see all the comments on the live stream and to see how so many people feel connected to him. When I was reading the comments as they scrolled by, I realized once again how much about his life is imprinted in my brain. It’s still weird to me that he was such a big part of my teen life (music, concerts, teen magazine articles, posters, diary entries) then totally out of it for more than a decade, besides turning up his songs when I heard them on the radio and then nothing until 1998. Then after 2000 (after four concerts in those three years and one meet-and-greet at a record store), nothing again until 2014. Totally oblivious to all his new music, interviews, etc. for 14 years then BAM, all of a sudden I’m aware of his daily schedule. (As far as touring and promotional interviews, that is.)

How lucky are RS fans that he keeps putting out such great music and that he’s such an incredible songwriter and guitarist? It’s not the first time his songs have had dark undertones (“Misty Water Woman,” “I Hate Myself,” “Shock/Denial/Anger/Acceptance”) – they’ve been there throughout his career. I think if “The Snake King” would have followed “Success Hasn’t Spoiled Me Yet,” it would have been more of a shock for ’80s fans, but we’re all grown-ups now. We’ve all seen examples of how devastating life can be and oftentimes creative expression comes from pain. And he has been very open about what goes on in his head. As he mentioned in interviews, taking that pain and anger and expressing it creatively is what helps him get through it. Each time he releases a new CD, he’s exposing a personal part of him to the world, just as most artists do, and I appreciate that he is able to transform those feelings into songs. I think true artists don’t create based on what they think people want, they create because it’s something they have to do. Their fans are fans because they enjoy what the artist does and they might not love everything that comes out of the creative process, but the creative process is not a service industry and shouldn’t be based on what a consumer wants.

(Click here for the video.)

 

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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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!

First song from ‘The Snake King’ released: ‘Little Demon’

Incredible! It gave me chills. Wondering what the story behind this is, especially that part at the end. Amazing guitar playing – there aren’t many lyrics, but it’s almost like the music is telling its own story. So exciting to hear the new music, can’t wait to hear more.

The CD is listed as “hard rock” on iTunes and there’s also now a song list available, making it clear that “The Snake King” will be VERY different from “Rocket Science“:

Land of the Blind
The Devil That You Know
Little Demon
Judas Tree
Jesus was an Atheist
The Snake King
God Don’t Care
The Voodoo House
Suicide Manifesto
Blues for the Disillusioned
Santa is an Anagram
Orpheus in the Underworld (a 10-minute song!)

It feels like some big story is about to unravel… And maybe some insight into RS’s soul. Are you ready for it?

Rock Nation

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I came across this today: “Rock Nation” from Rick Springfield and Friends – released April 1, 2017.

What?!  The digital download is a compilation of songs, but there’s only one written by RS: “Starlight, Starbright,” which was on “Mission Magic” (1974).

Here’s the list of songs:

01 – The Grass Roots – The River Is Wide
02 – Donovan – For Every Boy There Is a Girl
03 – Larry Hoppen – Still the One (Live)
04 – Jimi Jamison – Eye of the Tiger (Live)
05 – Mickey Thomas – We Built This City (Live)
06 – Rick Springfield – Starlight, Starbright
07 – Starbuck – Benny Bought the Big One
08 – Sneaux – Shakin Party
09 – Will Fletcher – Soft Blue Eyes
10 – Emergency Blanket – Careless Kenny

Not sure what the story behind this is or what the connection is between these songs – or if it’s even officially sanctioned by RS. The cover looks a little creepy and doesn’t really seem to fit the musical style of the songs (judging from the samples). 

Karma release: 18 years ago – and I was there!

Today is the 18th anniversary of the release of Rick Springfield’s “Karma” CD, which is very significant in RS history because it marks the return to his touring after a hiatus of more than a decade.

What is especially cool about this (to me, anyway), is that I was there when it happened! Because I wasn’t up on my RS history at the time – or when I started writing this blog – I didn’t realize that the day I first met him was the exact day “Karma” was released (and the day he signed my copy of “Karma”).

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Here are two of my past blog posts about that day: “Rick’s Return” and “Meeting Rick Springfield.”

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Didn’t know it at the time, but here’s a pic from a significant day in RS history: The Wherehouse in Los Angeles, April 13, 1999

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I also learned this morning that this month is the fifth anniversary of the “Affair of the Heart” documentary.

Here’s a great anniversary video about the documentary:

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.)

Some thoughts about studio news

Exciting news about RS recording some new songs, posted on Facebook earlier today with a pic of the recording studio.

My first thought, of course, was – yay!

Then my second thought was, “Wait a minute, isn’t he supposed to be in Germany already? The first Rock Meets Classic show is March 30, which is this Thursday night. How is he going to get over to Europe in time for the show? It’s a pretty hectic schedule, with a concert nearly every night for three weeks in a row. Won’t he be exhausted by the time he gets there?”

Then my third thought was, “Hey, I’m flying tomorrow, maybe we’ll be on the same plane! Maybe I’ll see him in the airport! I’ll have to be sure to look for him!” (Note: I’m not going to Germany, but quite possibly headed in the same direction. And it is possible he snapped the picture earlier in the week and remembered to post it today, or had someone else post it, but whatever.)

And then once again, yay! I wonder what these new songs are about? Will they give us some deep insight into his soul? Will it reveal some new discovery about him? What will they sound like?!  (No pressure, RS….)

And one final thought: Before we move on to this next album, I think some follow up is needed from “Rocket Science.” In small print in the booklet, it says, “For the stories behind the bonus tracks “Mercy” and “Walkin’ In,” go to http://www.rickspringfield.com!” I’ve been to http://www.rickspringfield.com several times and have yet to find them. Has anybody else come across them?

And lastly, yay!

In the lobby a year ago tonight

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Close to the stage

A year ago tonight was the evening that I stayed at the same hotel as Rick Springfield.

I walked by him and the band in the lobby as they were checking into the hotel and because I was with my husband – who just isn’t into the “Hey, let’s hang out and see if we can meet Rick Springfield!” thing – we just walked by. I did, however, get a wave from drummer Jorge though, who was on the phone and caught me staring, and we rode in the elevator with bassist Siggy, who was very nice. (By the way, happy belated birthday, Jorge.)

We saw the show in Sahuarita that night, which was wonderful and although I talked my husband into hanging out in the casino and hotel for a bit just in case RS were to walk by, it never happened. But we did see keyboardist Tim walking around after the show and got to wish him a happy birthday (Happy birthday, Tim!)

It was a fun weekend trip with my husband. Much more fun than this weekend this year, as we are now going to empty the content of the downstairs cabinets so they and our floors can be ripped out this week because of water damage. Sometimes being a grown-up is just no fun – thank goodness for the moments in life when you can put that on hold for a couple of days to go see your teenage crush in concert!