Songwriting lesson

This past week I had my first songwriting lesson with a new teacher and midway through the lesson, the instructor, who is in his somewhere in his early to mid-40s, was showing me some kind of technical thing that I don’t remember the name of right now and – I kid you not – he tells me, “Rick Springfield does this type of thing a lot.”

He then explained that he’s a big Rick Springfield fan and I told him that I am, too. Then he told me that he’s seen him in concert many times and once RS threw a pic out in the audience and it landed in his drink and he also has a poster signed by RS. He also told me that Rick Springfield has a new CD coming out and he couldn’t wait to hear it. I told him I also couldn’t wait.

I didn’t tell him about this blog, but I did want to mention it here because I thought it was so cool that somebody giving songwriting lessons is throwing some RS moves into his lesson and that this random songwriting teacher that I found on Craigslist is such a big RS fan and I thought you’d appreciate it, too.

Anyway, that’s it – back to the countdown of “The Snake King” – five more days until Jan. 26! And the Rock Solid comedy/music podcast interview that took place in San Francisco this weekend is scheduled to be available here by Thursday, Jan. 25. It sounds like it was a deep interview and different than the usual interviews RS goes through during his pre-CD publicity interviews.


More songs on the way?

So happy to read this in an interview tonight:

Springfield, 67, is touring behind his latest album, “Rocket Science,” which dropped last February, and he continues to co-star in the fantasy-horror series “Supernatural” on The CW. And he’s already writing songs for a follow-up album.

(This was a story from in advance of this weekend’s concert in Durham, North Carolina.)

The soft-spoken bard knows his ’80s hits draw the crowds, but he’s looking forward to showcasing fresh material. “Most people want to hear the hits, but I love to play the new stuff, which is why I keep writing,” he says. “Whether people listen to it is immaterial.” …

Right now, Springfield says he’s focusing on his role in “Supernatural” – he plays Lucifer – and on songwriting. “I’m in a great space right now,” he says. “I’m on a creative high.”

I’m guessing the interview was done weeks ago since his role in “Supernatural” is over (or at least it seemed to be), but it was the “writing songs for a follow-up album” part that caught my attention. Plus if the story had to mention “Jessie’s Girl,” at least the headline said, “More than Jessie’s Girl.”

I thought the part about writing songs even if nobody listens to them was interesting, especially since everything he writes gets listened to repeatedly and then is analyzed and digested by his fans. (Or is that just me? No, I don’t think so.)

There is a joy of creating something from nothing and the whole process of it is magical, whether it is music or art or anything creative. One of my songs on Soundcloud has over 300 “plays” – but that’s because it happens to have the same name as some wrestling theme song, I discovered after a brief investigation (mine is a very un-wrestling song). So although nobody is listening to my songs (although sometimes my kids sing them), it’s OK, because just the process of writing them is enjoyable (when it’s not frustrating because it feels like something’s not working).

I just had an idea! RS has his own studio and he’s writing songs so he can record them whenever he wants to and because he doesn’t care if anybody listens to them though thousands of people do, he can record them and release them on YouTube so we can listen to them! That sounds like a great idea, right?


I’ve experienced a few crushes over the course of my lifetime. If I had to chart them on a graph of my life, they would start showing up around third grade, gradually increase then surge in junior high, both due to boys at my school that I would never actually talk to and those featured on the pages of Teen Beat and 16 Magazine (primarily of RS, as you may have guessed, but others, too).

They’d remain steady through high school and then once I hit college, the crushes decreased a bit. By then I would often start dating them and once you start dating a crush, they usually lose their crush status because at that point, the idealized view fades as you get to know them as a real person. (It’s difficult for crushes to live up to those idealized views because they are of course real people with faults and things that may drive you crazy if you have to actually spend time with them.)

If you’re lucky, you find somebody who you still feel strongly about even after the idealized view wanes.

But still, sometimes it’s fun to have a crush and just feel like a 15-year-old again with those intense feelings. And if it’s somebody that you’ll likely never actually meet (and if you do, you’d be too nervous to actually form a coherent sentence anyway), you don’t have to worry about any of the conflicts that may arise.

Crushes can also make you a little crazy sometimes, because they’re usually unrequited so for fun, I dug a little into my inner crazy to write this song: “Crushed.”

(Click here for lyrics.)

35 years after ‘Jessie’s Girl’ hit #1

Hey RS, remember that time a few months ago when we stayed in the same hotel?

You probably don’t remember because when I saw you, you were standing in the lobby and your back was toward me and with all the lobbies you’ve stood in, you can’t possibly remember everyone who walks behind you.

And even though I briefly saw most of the members of your band walking around the hotel during our visit, I never saw you again after the lobby – except during that night’s show of course.

And so because my husband is opposed to stalking – which in most cases is a good thing but not really in this case – we checked out of the hotel in the morning and headed home.

I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed on the way home because I had gotten a little spoiled by the chance encounters – albeit very brief ones, enough for a quick photo – after prior shows. So in the days that followed, I wrote a little song about it to get it out of my system.

On a whim a few weeks ago, I decided to submit a couple of my song/poems to a local literary magazine  – “In the lobby” being one of them – and they got accepted! The magazine is scheduled to come out in the fall.

So why am I writing about this here? 1. To say, hey thanks for not turning around in the lobby because that inspired a song and this is the first time I’ve had a song/poem published in a literary magazine since high school and 2. Because I found out about it exactly 35 years – minus one day – after “Jessie’s Girl” hit #1 on the Billboard chart (which was Aug. 1, 1981).

OK, I know there’s a big difference between an acceptance email from a local literacy magazine and a #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, but whatever, I thought the timing was cool anyway since they were both inspired  (sort of) by similar experiences. 

‘You Are Not Alone’

Last night I just finished a song I’ve been working on for the past few weeks. I started it after the recent terror attacks in Paris and Israel and unfortunately there have been many others around the world since then, including one in our own country earlier this week.

(As with past songs, please excuse the amateur recording – it’s the first song I’ve written on a keyboard and it was just recorded with a tape recorder – it’s the best of MANY attempts – at least this version has all the right words and notes and no dog barking or children screaming in the background).

Prayers for all of those going through a difficult time and for peace.

You Are Not Alone

You are in tomorrow
I’m still in today
You can’t feel my sorrow
You’re too far away

Although we may be strangers
I’m standing by your side
Grieving in your shadow
As you say your goodbyes

You are not alone
The world may seem so cold
If it brings you any solace, know
that you are not alone

In time a heart will heal
I know that’s not how you feel
I wish that I could take your pain away
Darkness on the evening news
Time stands still as the world resumes
Moving forward yet stalled in yesterday

You are not alone
Though you may be far from home
If it brings you any solace, know
that you are not alone

I hope the light shines down on you
to help you make it through
Bringing warmth into your world once again
Feel the love filling the air
Across the miles, to there from here
Reaching you whenever you need a friend

You are not alone
Although the future remains unknown
If it brings you any solace, know
that you are not alone

You are in tomorrow
I’m still in today
You can’t feel my sorrow
You’re too far away

Although we may be strangers
I’m standing by your side
Grieving in your shadow
As you say your goodbyes

You are not alone
The world may seem so cold
If it brings you any solace, know
that you are not alone.

© 2015

Inspiration for songs

During the Q&A after a recent Stripped Down concert, somebody asked Rick Springfield what inspired his song “Celebrate Youth.” The answer was not what you would expect.

He said that he was sitting in a steam room in Palm Springs “with a bunch of old, fat naked men” when he started thinking about that song, wondering what those guys thought of him because he was much younger than them. That is very different than the image I previously had in my mind when hearing that song…

But I thought that was so interesting because it is a reminder that inspiration can come from anywhere – and can develop into something else entirely. In the past – before marriage and kids – the majority of my songs were about dating angst. There were some exceptions, such as when my mom died and Sept. 11, but many were the results of emotions stirred up from dating encounters. After I met my husband, that angst disappeared and I rarely wrote songs anymore – until last year.

The first one I wrote in about 10 years was after reading RS’s memoir, “Late Late at Night” almost exactly a year ago. It is called Rick Springfield Crush Revival,” and is about my renewed teenage crush on my favorite rock star.

Then in the past year, inspiration has come in from all different directions. Here are the songs, with the first few lines (click on the title to hear the song (very rough versions) or see the lyrics-I’m still working on music for some of them).

“Holes in the Wall”: After noticing a hole in a wall.

There are holes in the wall hidden underneath the pictures
I can’t answer when you call, there’s a shortage in the fixture
The lawn is overgrown and the floor’s in need of sweeping
But I can’t get out of bed, I only feel like sleeping.

“One in a Million”: The difference between how fans view rock stars vs. how rock stars view their fans.

They feel like they know you from all that you’ve shared
Devoted for decades, they’ve shown that they care
To them you’re one in a million, the brightest star in the sky
A light in the darkness, a muse in their life

“A Thoughtless Whisper”: After reading an article about how social media destroyed people’s lives.

A thoughtless whisper becomes a worldwide trend
We’ve gone too far, we can’t go back again
Everyone’s a witness with a camera in hand
Gathering evidence against their fellow man

“Distracted Driving”: One day while driving on the freeway, I missed my exit, then almost did it again the next day, which led to this song.

I passed my exit, I drove too far
Caught daydreaming inside my car
Where are we going? Are we lost?
Distracted driving, paying the cost

“Under the Same Sky”: About the earthquake in Nepal

As the earth crumbled across the ocean
We continued our lives with depleted emotion
Underneath the rubble, thousands of lives lost
Numbed by the numbers, can’t comprehend the cost

“I Feel Rich”: Inspired by payday

I feel rich ‘cause I just got paid
My gas tank’s full and the bed is made
It won’t last long ‘cause the bills are due
But for one whole day I feel like you

“A Cup of Coffee”: Inspired by my husband bringing me coffee each morning

A cup of coffee on the counter waiting for me
One of the signs that you care for me
Waking in the morning with a smile on your face
Immersed in all your love, I know I’m in the right place

“Shine Your Light”: This actually started from a dark place, trying to figure out what goes on in the mind of someone who commits a horrific act (like a terrorist), but then it ended up turning around into people being inspired to do positive things in the world.

You may be quiet on the outside, but internally
There’s a fire burning and it’s yearning to break free
You think that nobody’s watching, you feel like nobody cares
Your dreams turned gray along the way, they were swallowed by your fears

“Glass Shatters”:  I was emptying the dishwasher and noticed our chipped plates and how we have so many different kinds of glasses – and how things have changed since when we first got married and all our dishes and glasses were new – and they matched.

Mismatched glasses, place settings on the table
We talk about replacing them someday when we are able
Years ago they were all so shiny and new
In our earlier days, when they made their debut

And the latest song came after I noticed that someone gave my “Rick Springfield Crush Revival” video a thumbs down. Couldn’t they just see the video for what it was – a cheesy, amateur tribute to my favorite rock star? Did they really have to go out of their way to publicly (though anonymously) declare their dislike for it? Couldn’t they have just rolled their eyes and clicked on a different video?

Then I realized that that’s just the way our society is these days, and then came “Thumbs-down Mentality”:

Everyone’s a critic, a thumbs-down mentality
Can’t keep it to themselves, they need the whole world to see
You’re king of your keyboard, you’re ruler of your room
A tyrant typing madly, spreading anonymous doom.

Every time I finish a song, I am convinced that it might be my last one because the inspiration seems to come from somewhere I can’t explain and I don’t really have any control over it. Maybe it’s just a matter of being receptive to the idea, I don’t know, and I spend time developing the song once the inspiration hits, of course. But that’s what I have for now. Thanks, RS, for inspiring me to write songs again!

‘Ricki and the Flash’ and motherhood

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People who follow their passion are often greatly admired. Their dedication is lauded and their ambition applauded. But that’s usually only true if they are successful.

If their efforts are fruitless, however, the response is much different.

For instance, there’s the character of Ricki Rendazzo, played by Meryl Streep in “Ricki and the Flash,” who leaves her husband and young kids to pursue a career as a rock star. Instead of the successful musical career she dreamed of, she sings cover songs in a bar band in Tarzana, California and works as a cashier in a Whole Foods-type of market. If she wasn’t barely surviving on the brink of bankruptcy and was instead a successful singer selling hit records and touring around the country, would it make it acceptable that she left her young kids in order to pursue her dream?

In an interview posted on The Globe and Mail website with the film’s screenwriter Diablo Cody, Cody admitted that the script for ‘Ricki’ is in many ways a projection of her own anxieties as a mother. “Could this be my future?” she asked. “Are my kids going to forgive me for the time I spent away from them because I was passionate about writing movies, or are they going to appreciate it?”

I think that’s a question many working mothers ask. And if a working mother has other interests outside of their workday that they try to fit in between school pick-up and bedtime, is that admirable or poor parenting?

In the last few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time writing new songs – the lyrics and melodies are what comes most naturally and I can do that while driving or doing things around the house. But the actual music is much more challenging and I don’t have much time to spend practicing guitar or piano, much less try to create something new. I’m fortunate to have a job I’m passionate about – that involves lots of writing – but I still have a strong desire to write songs. So I try to fit it in between work and school schedules, meals and bedtimes, although I feel guilty about it. (What’s with motherhood and guilt?!)

Even now this very moment, at 1 a.m., I feel guilty because my 6-year-old just woke up and walked into the office and wants me to go into his room. Yes, I’m writing a blog post at 1 a.m. because that’s when I often end up having time for non-work writing and still (AT 1 A.M.!!!!) feel guilty about it because the little guy is asking when I’m going to be done.

So can a mom follow her passion without feeling guilty? Is it OK as long as you do it in moderation and attempt to balance it with your parenting duties and not simply forego your obligation altogether like Ricki Rendazzo?

I will have to ponder this another time because guilt won. The little guy just asked me again if I am done yet so I’m signing off now.

Time to shine

Amid all the excitement about “Ricki and the Flash” coming out – interviews, contests and promotional buildup to the film – I’ve been working on my newest song, which I finally finished over the weekend. Although it’s not really about RS, it was inspired by him in a sense, and the theme kind of fits with the timing of everything that’s going on, so I thought I’d post it here. (I actually recently started a different blog with non-RS content because I realize that if people are coming to this site, it’s probably as a result of a “Rick Springfield” search but I have other things to write about, too.)

Here it is:

You may be quiet on the outside
But internally
There’s a fire burning
And it’s yearning to break free

You think that nobody’s watching
You feel like nobody cares
Your dreams turned gray along the way
They were swallowed by your fears

Now is your time to shine
Find a way to make your mark
Relinquish the dark
It’s time to shine your light

We all have a limited time on this earth
No one’s sure how long it’ll last
Every day brings a new beginning
Don’t get stranded in the past

Every person has a unique role
Only they can fulfill
So find it, ignite it and share it with the world
If you don’t, nobody else will

Now is your time to shine
Find a way to make your mark
Ignite your spark
It’s time to shine your light

The world is filled with beautiful souls
But there are some who seek to smother the sun
They may darken our days with their evil ways
But we can’t let them think that they’ve won

If a tiny flame can brighten a room
We can all light up the sky
A single blaze
Illuminates for days
Bringing a glow to our lives

Now is your time to shine
Find a way to make your mark
Demolish the dark
It’s time to shine your light
Now is your time to shine
Find a way to make your mark
Emerge from the dark
It’s time to shine your light
It’s time to shine your light.

Ricki with Ricky a week from today!

The world premiere of “Ricki and the Flash” is next Monday and I have a screening pass in my hand – whoo hoo! What a great way to start my birthday week!

The New York Premiere Screening of “Ricki And The Flash” is on Aug. 3 and the press junket for the film is Aug. 1-2. Rick Springfield, Meryl Streep, Mamie Gummer and Jonathan Demme will all be there and reporters will get to interview all of them. Pretty exciting, right?

The Aug. 3 screening pass in my hand is not, unfortunately, for the one in New York – it’s  for an advance screening on the other side of the country in Phoenix – but I’m still excited nonetheless. (Oh, did it I make it sound like I was going to New York? Well, a girl can dream, right?) I think the last time I was this excited about a movie was back in 1984 when “Hard to Hold” came out.

Blogging to inspiration

It’s nearly a year since I first “rediscovered” Rick Springfield, after finding an interview on our local public television station with him discussing the recent release of “Magnificent Vibration.” During the interview I learned that he had also written a memoir and released a few CDs and before I knew it, my teenage RS obsession kicked back into full gear – even though I left my teenage years decades ago.

Not long after I listened to the interview, I discovered that RS himself was due to come to town for a concert about a week later. Unfortunately we were going through a difficult time financially and there was no way I could get tickets. I even tried to think of a clever way to sum up my desire to see the concert in a desperate plea for tickets in a 140-character message to his Twitter account. I don’t remember what it was – it wasn’t clever at all – and, feeling rather ridiculous, I quickly deleted both that and my desperate Facebook post. I now know that he never replies to any FB or Twitter posts from anyone (or at least he doesn’t appear to) and I doubt he even handles his accounts, but that didn’t occur to me at the time. (I’ve noticed other fans occasionally do the same thing before a show, which makes me feel a little better that it’s not just me who felt compelled to do that.)

But anyway, I was surprised how painful it was to know he was only a few miles away and I couldn’t go. But I did spend a lot of time over the next few weeks catching up – lots of Googling, watching YouTube videos, listening to and reading interviews, reading his memoir and his novel, and watching the “Affair of the Heart” documentary about him and his fans. Then I just couldn’t contain it anymore – I had to start writing.

First, I put together a blog focused on “Late, Late at Night,” where I compiled as many videos as I could find, divided by the chapters of the book in which RS wrote about the specific song. I did it simply because I searched for the YouTube videos as I was reading it and thought that maybe somebody else would find it useful.

But that wasn’t enough. I had to examine my obsession further and I didn’t want to irritate my husband, friends or acquaintances by talking about it nonstop. So I started this blog, in hopes that others who felt the same way would come across it in their own RS discovery.

But then it turned into something more. As I pulled out boxes of old journals from the garage – and found my diary from 1982, when this obsession started – I not only found more RS content than I anticipated, but I also realized how much songwriting has been a part of my life since high school.

Three months after I started this blog, tickets went on sale for a concert about four months in the future (it fell on what would have been my mom’s 70th birthday). As a result, the blog kind of morphed from looking backward to review my RS memories (which included meeting him once at a music store in 1999) to looking forward in anticipation. Out of all the places in all the years he’s traveled, we would be in the same vicinity. My mission became to have him see this blog.

Why this is, I cannot say for sure. I guess it’s just a need to connect with a person who has had such a big influence on my life. To just have my own personal “hey, thanks” and not just be one “like” in a Facebook post along with thousands of other fans. I knew I wouldn’t be able to be one of his fans who is able to follow him around to multiple shows throughout the year, scoring a seat in the first few rows each time. I’m not sure why it seemed that a few words among trillions floating around in cyberspace might have an impact, but I thought I’d try. I only told a handful of people about the blog since I wasn’t sure what would become of it.

Anyway, all the details are in past blog posts, but I was able to meet him at the March show and give him a little piece of paper with this blog address. And then I met him again in April, when I somewhat incoherently mentioned the blog again when I met him after a second show. I couldn’t bring myself to actually ask if he read it and to this day, I have no idea if he has. I’m sure I’ll scour every lyric in his upcoming CD to see if there’s any reference to it, but I’m not holding my breath. (He did, however, appear to me in a dream and mouth the words, “I saw the blog” to me, so that’s something.)

But despite the uncertainty that my mission has been completed – aka RS seeing this blog – something unexpected came out of writing the blog. When I was going through my journals, I remembered many of the melodies that went along with songs written among the journal pages – even the early ones from the 1980s. I remembered how much I enjoyed writing songs and reading those words brought back memories of those times in my life those songs represented – both the good and the bad.

And earlier this year, I started writing songs again. Although I’ve written lines with melodies here and there through the years, it’s been about 14 years since I’ve written full songs on guitar (back before I had kids – when I actually had hours of uninterrupted time to devote to it). My guitar playing is very rusty and the recordings are far from professional but I’m having so much fun. (You can listen to them here, but please don’t judge them too harshly…I realize they need some work.) I have written seven songs so far this year – the lyrics and the melodies – but the music itself is more of a challenge. (RS, you seem to be in a collaborative mood these days – want to take on a new project?)

I’m not sure how long I’ll continue writing this blog – there have been so many times when I felt like I had nothing else to write about but then two days later an idea popped in my head that I had to get out – but I just wanted to say thank you to RS for another year of inspiration. XO.