Inhabiting a ‘World on Fire’

I feel like I experienced the end of the world this week. Any opportunity I had – whether it be in the car (after I dropped off the kids at school), washing dishes, folding laundry – I listened to Rick Springfield’s newest novel, “World on Fire.”

I admit that I started the book only because it was written by my favorite rock star and I enjoy his writing style – it’s not the genre that I would typically choose. In the first hour of the 10-hour book, I was still adjusting to the storyline and dark nature of the book, which is different than books I’ve been reading lately. By the second hour or so, I was hooked. He’s a great storyteller and within the dark, depressing, graphic details of the pandemic, there are laugh-out-loud moments (as odd as that may sound).

The mix of history, religion, humor, human nature and pop culture swirl around together throughout the book and through the main character’s ADD, you kind of get a sense of the sort of things that go through RS’s mind. RS fans may recall snippets from various interviews and social media posts as different topics pop up throughout the storyline – dogs, the Titanic, sci-fi books and films and happy childhood memories.

I don’t want to give any spoilers away, as it just came out Jan. 28 so fans may not have had a chance to listen to it yet, but it dominated my week so I just wanted to recommend it here. Here’s the publisher’s summary of the book on Audible:

World on Fire” picks up where Magnificent Vibration left off: with the hapless Bobby Cotton and his beloved bride (and former nun), Alice, having unleashed a global pandemic that’s fast wiping out half the world’s population – and at God’s request.  

Bobby guides a very pregnant Alice and a motley crew of survivors to the Holy Land, darting through the hazards of a world that has fallen to pieces in a way more thorough than any we have seen.  

But Bobby’s newborn daughter is born with astonishing abilities, and she’s not alone. A miraculous Convergence is headed for Galilee, where the stakes include survival of the Earth as we know it and the human race.  

By turns hilarious and deadly serious, “World on Fire” explores the fate of the Earth in an utterly original way. 

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the audiobook format because there’s nothing like finding a comfortable spot and getting lost in a great, physical book, but for “World on Fire,” I really enjoyed the audio version – not just because RS was reading it, but because he brought the dialogue to life with different voice and sound effects. For now it’s available exclusively on Audible (they’re having a free trial if you don’t have it yet) but perhaps it will be available in hard copy in the future as well. I couldn’t wait.

One of the benefits of an audiobook is that you can listen to it while you’re doing other things so you don’t have to feel guilty because you’re not feeding the kids or getting things done around the house because you’re devoting so much time to reading a book. You can listen to it while you cook, while you clean and while you’re driving. (My life really isn’t that boring, although it probably sounds like it from that sentence. Although of course we are mainly at home these days due to the real-life pandemic so there’s more cooking and cleaning than usual.)

The book has been in progress for about six years (“Magnificent Vibration” came out in 2014 and this is the sequel to that), so it’s pretty bizarre that he recorded it and released it during a real pandemic. If 2020 had gone as originally planned, RS would have been busy touring around the country so who knows how that would have affected the book’s timeline. Would it still have come out on audio only or would a book tour have also been scheduled? No way of knowing of course since we’ve already shifted realities and we don’t know what other possibilities would have existed.

The “Jesus Boat” in the Yigal Allon Centre, from a 2013 visit to Israel

One thing about the book that was mind-blowing to me personally was the wide ground it covered and the connection it had with different parts of my life. The RS compartment of my life is typically connected to my younger self and my music-loving/songwriting self but not really with my faith, except for his spiritual-seeking side in a general way. However, because much of the storyline takes place in Israel – a place I’ve visited and where I have family – it felt much more personal. It was surreal to discover that the “Wailing Wall” is mentioned in one of the chapter titles, that one of the main settings in the book is a museum in Israel (The Yigal Allon Centre) that I’ve visited and that he throws in some Hebrew and Yiddish words and expressions. It was a reminder that we actually do inhabit the same planet.

So many of the pop culture references mentioned also made me feel this way – that we’re all here on this planet and the idea that so many of the things we take for granted could disappear hit home more than I think it would have had we not been experiencing a real pandemic. Restaurant buffets, shopping without a face mask, attending a concert, enjoying a multigenerational holiday meal – all things that before 2020 were a given. Hopefully with the vaccine here, some of these things will return soon, but the state I live in is currently one of the COVID-19 hotspots so it still feels like a long way off.

The book may not be for everyone – very few things are – but I really enjoyed inhabiting it for a few days (although I’m grateful that it’s fiction). It was dark and exposed some really negative attributes of our world, but it was also infused with humor and a hope for goodness.

What did you think of the book?

‘World on Fire’ now available for preorder

As if we don’t already have a jillion reasons to be ready for 2021 to get here, there’s now another one: Rick Springfield’s sequel to the best-selling novel “Magnificent Vibration” will be available on Jan. 28. “World on Fire” can now be pre-ordered at adbl.co/worldonfire. For now, it’s only available on Audible, but with no possibilities for meet-and-greet booksignings, that’ll do for now. (Plus listening to him read it for hours sounds fine to me. Although I do hope a print version will be available at some point. Along with meet-and-greet booksignings.)

Here’s the publisher’s summary of the book:

World on Fire picks up where Magnificent Vibration left off: with the hapless Bobby Cotton and his beloved bride (and former nun), Alice, having unleashed a global pandemic that’s fast wiping out half the world’s population – and at God’s request.  

Bobby guides a very pregnant Alice and a motley crew of survivors to the Holy Land, darting through the hazards of a world that has fallen to pieces in a way more thorough than any we have seen.  

But Bobby’s newborn daughter is born with astonishing abilities, and she’s not alone. A miraculous Convergence is headed for Galilee, where the stakes include survival of the Earth as we know it and the human race.  

By turns hilarious and deadly serious, World on Fire explores the fate of the Earth in an utterly original way. 

Here’s RS’s version of the announcement, in a Facebook post:

Holy crap! Okay, maybe not word appropriate considering the general subject matter but my new novel ‘World on Fire’ is being released in January! It’s an audiobook so you don’t even have to know how to read! Just sit back and let the mellifluous tones of “yours truly” take you to hell and back.

It’s dark humor and a re-imagining of our future with some magic in it that you didn’t see coming. Okay, I’ve given away too much already. It’s the sequel to by last best-selling fiction novel ‘Magnificent Vibration’ but it’s a stand alone story that doesn’t require going back and reading or rereading ‘Magnificent Vibration’.

I hope you enjoy my second novel and my first as an Audible exclusive. Pre-order now @audible at adbl.co/worldonfire Xoxo Rick

In today’s article on The Hollywood Reporter website, “Rick Springfield to Release Follow-up to Best-selling Novel, ‘Magnificent Vibration,’ RS says, “Houston, we have a problem! Pandemic. Fires. Hurricanes. Isolation. TV re-runs. The end seems near. I love our planet, as we all do, and the destruction we’re bringing to her door is frightening. I really want to change the ending. Then, I realized that I could, IN FICTION, because…well…its fiction. So I wrote a novel about it and gave our planet a happier resolution. Of sorts.”

Note: Any similarities between the global pandemic in “World on Fire” and the current global pandemic in real life are purely coincidental, as “World on Fire” was written before COVID-19 arrived on the scene (evidence here, in this post from May 2019).

rick-springfield-sock-puppet

Sock puppets, evil twins, an audiobook and locusts

As we as a world experience this COVID-19 pandemic, entertainment is very welcome.

Fortunately Rick Springfield and Vance DeGeneres are doing a second round to their Songwriting with a Partner series and are currently in the process of recording their second song. This round took a different turn, which includes sock puppets, evil twins and RS’s BFF, actor Doug Davidson. There’s even an unexpected sighting of Charlie Chaplin, which was pretty hilarious.

RS has also continued weekly Zoom happy half-hours with lucky fans, which he graciously answers all sorts of questions about his music, acting, books, life. It’s pretty cool that he does this as many of those on the calls are decades-long fans so to have a chance to engage this way with their teenage crush is pretty amazing.

Video highlights of these calls are on his Facebook page, which are fun to watch because you get to learn what he’s been up to, such as the final edits of the sequel to “Magnificent Vibration,” which is called “World on Fire” and due to be released on audiobook in October.

I just realized that if the book is released only on audiobook, does that mean that there will be no bookstore tours like there was for “Magnificent Vibration”? Can you have a booksigning for an audiobook? Will there be any more book tours for any author in the next year? Will bookstores even make it through this pandemic?

Argh, sorry. So many unknowns lately, my mind often wanders.

Fortunately RS is keeping busy, which benefits his fans. He’s mentioned that he and Matt Bissonette (his former bass player who most recently tours with Elton John) and Gregg Bissonette, who tours with Ringo Starr) created a band called The Locusts (first there was the Crickets, then the Beatles, now the Locusts, which is such a fitting name for a band created during a plague). He mentioned on one of the Zoom calls that they recorded 12 songs which they will soon start releasing. Whoo-hoo!

In case you missed these:

The Global News Morning Show: Musicians Rick Springfield and Vance DeGeneres talk about their creative process in quarantine and their new single “The Wall Will Fall.”

Yahoo News: “Rick Springfield reminisces about his famous working class dog: It was love at first sight.”

Update on July 10: Playlists of the videos from both seasons of the songwriting series are now on RS’s YouTube channel.

‘The Wall Will Fall,’ ‘World on Fire’ and ‘Comic Book Heroes’

Although Rick Springfield fans are no longer getting their RS fixes in the pre-pandemic way (aka lots of concerts and videos posted by fans who attend those concerts), RS is providing plenty of entertainment in other ways.

In addition to the “No Human Touch” parody mentioned in the last post, there’s also the new “Glove Somebody” featuring a mix of old and current band members and two dogs.

There has also been seven versions of the instructional videos on how to play “Jessie’s Girl” in 60 seconds but despite his best efforts, we still don’t know. (So far his efforts have been sidelined by an “earthquake,” a “fire” and “technical difficulties.”)

The songwriting with a partner mini-series with Vance DeGeneres is having a bit more success though, as the song is really coming along nicely. Plus the videos are hilarious. The nice part is about being at home all the time is that I can stop everything to watch them as soon as I notice that they’re posted and they always make me laugh.

The videos have featured several guests and according to a new article on the Rock Cellar magazine website, the plan is to eventually release the song, currently called “The Wall Will Fall,” and donate any funds raised to a COVID-19 charity.

Can we spend a few minutes unpacking that new article? There’s so much good stuff in there!

  • The final edit of “World on Fire,” the sequel to “Magnificent Vibration,” is in progress and it’s “about a plague and how the Earth brings it to the people to try and save herself.” (He’s been working on it for three years and it’s going through its final edit when there’s an actual global plague. Pretty weird, especially when there are stories about how Los Angeles now has blue skies because there’s less pollution now that there’s not so much traffic and Venice canals are the cleanest they ever were, etc., which probably makes the Earth happy.)
  • More details on the HG Wells cutout from the Beatles Sgt. Pepper cover. (Which answers my question from a past blog post.)
  • He’s been working on acoustic guitar versions of “Comic Book Heroes” songs. He’s played a few on his fan club site, but I didn’t realize he was planning on playing all of them and will eventually do something more with them. Yay! “Comic Book Heroes” is my favorite of his older albums and I can’t wait to hear “Born Out of Time.” (My favorite on the album is “Believe in Me” and “Born Out of Time” is my second favorite and I remember my 12-year-old self feeling that way about RS because of our 20-year age difference. 😁)
  • The fact that he’s been playing a lot more piano these days. (For some pre-quarantine videos of this, see this post, “Sing us a song, piano man.”) Right after he mentions in the article that he’s been playing the piano a lot more these days, he mentions that his next album “is going to be quite different from the others.” Hmmm… He’s done rock, country-twinged, blues and symphony orchestra albums, will the next one be piano ballads?
  • On Saturday, April 25, he will perform in #AllTogetherNowLA, an online concert by Rock Cellar Productions, in association with @get2gethernow. The concert will be a relief effort to benefit L.A. residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Visit alltogethernowla.org for details.)

(He also performed last weekend at the Human to Human event.)

He sure knows how to brighten someone’s day!

Not in Punta Cana

As you may remember (especially if you were planning on going), the Rick Springfield fan trip was scheduled in Punta Cana this week. Because of all the tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic being reported in the news a few months ago, it ended up being moved to Cancun, Mexico and postponed until May 14-18, 2020 (so there’s still time to play and win the lottery!).

So instead of a plethora of videos and posts from the fan trip flooding my RS social media feed this week, it’s a little quieter due to there no being no fan trip this week and no shows scheduled to take its place. However, as indicated in the previous post, RS still keeps himself busy so there’s some activity to catch up on since that previous post. (Although hopefully he’s getting some resting and relaxing in with his family during this time off.)

Honoring a former band mate

The same week he officiated at the Malibu wedding of his guitarist AND was a keynote speaker at a conference in St. Louis, he also performed at an event, the Rock Godz Hall of Fame, honoring his former keyboardist Brett Tuggle, a member of his Fabulous Eels band back in the 1980s.

Forbes covered the evening here: “Rock Godz Hall of Fame Celebrates the Musicians and Industry Behind the Superstars.”

Here’s a slideshow, courtesy of Getty Images:

Embed from Getty Images

Lucky kids

For Halloween, he performed at an elementary school for Great Pumpkin Day. Although I don’t think the kids truly appreciated how lucky they were to be sitting there with him, some of the teachers sang along.

Why at an elementary school, you may wonder?

Rick Springfield helped students celebrate Halloween with a special performance, including singing Witches’ Brew with his son, alum Josh Springthorpe ‘07
Facebook page of Viewpoint School Alumni Association

Unfortunately I haven’t seen any video of RS singing “Witches Brew” with his son Josh, which was probably pretty adorable.

‘World on Fire’ coming soon?

This weekend, there was also an interview with RS shown on a Philadelphia TV station.

How much would you like to see the unedited version to see what they couldn’t use on camera?!

In the interview he mentions that he’s getting ready to release “World on Fire,” his second novel. Whoo-hoo!

A happy occasion

Despite the inconvenience it may have caused for some, it’s probably good that the fan trip got postponed because apparently his youngest son is getting married this next week so it’s good that everyone will be in the country in the days leading up to the big day. Best wishes and congratulations to the whole family!

World on Fire & imagined Easter eggs

A recent article disclosed the name of Rick Springfield’s new novel: “World on Fire.” Apparently it’s the sequel to “Magnificent Vibration.” Since his first novel had so many references to his real life (such as character names), I wonder if last year’s fires had any impact on this one and whether real-life references will be embedded into the storyline.

The article also says he’s working on a third book and working on songs for a new album. Amazing.

In addition to my favorite rock star, there’s one other musician that I find myself intrigued with lately. Not enough to start another blog, but I just think she’s super talented and find her career so fascinating – Taylor Swift. I won’t go into details here, but before her “Reputation” album was released, she got everyone’s attention online and publicized her album solely to her fans on social media.

Her “Reputation” tour was record-breaking (she puts on a great show – I didn’t see it live, but watched it on Netflix on New Year’s Day and really enjoyed it). She recently debuted a new song, “ME!” dropping hints on social media and apparently the video was filled with Easter eggs (hidden messages) that contain things like clues to the album title or song titles or references to past videos. I’m not familiar enough with her work to catch many of them nor do I have time to explore much further, but I just think it’s really interesting.

Why am I writing about this here? Because I just saw pictures from tonight’s RS concert and noticed that “The Snake King” logo is no longer on Jorge’s drum set. Instead it’s Ron, RS’s dog from the 1980’s, wearing the shirt with the RS picture in the pocket, aka the cover of “Working Class Dog.” After I noticed this, I looked back at pictures and videos from recent concerts. May 11: The Snake King. May 17: Ron. Did this come up at the concert? Is this is a sign of something to come? Does it have any particular meaning? Am I reading too much into it? Why do I care?

In case you missed ‘The Talk’

In case you missed Rick Springfield’s appearance on “The Talk” yesterday, CBS now has the episode online (around the 26.42 mark although it includes commercials).  He said he has the flu, poor thing. The normal person is home in bed under the covers when they have the flu and he appears live on national television in Studio City, California, and then heads to his next concert in Detroit. And still looks and sounds good doing both. I think he has some kind of rock star superpower.

RS The Talk

UPDATE on May 24

OK, it looks like he’s human after all, as he needed to cancel the next two shows in Ontario, Canada due to illness. Sorry for the fans, but very necessary for his health to get rest when he needs it and to get better. Hope you feel better soon, RS!

Here’s a review from last night’s show: “Rick Springfield rocks Sound Board into the Wayback Machine.”

Maybe it was the cough syrup. Maybe it was the Aqua Net fumes wafting from the crowd. Either way, it’s clear Detroit still has an affair of the heart with Springfield.

UPDATE on June 13

File this under things I find amusing: Three weeks after I wrote this post, Taylor Swift announced that her new album “Lover” will be released on Aug. 23 (aka Rick Springfield’s birthday.)