Review of “Songs For The End of the World” Part 1: Bad Fan

Well, Rick Springfield has a new record out. I said this to my daughter after watching The Voice the other night, which featured singers taking a stab at Rick’s classic, “Jessie’s Girl,” and she responded, “A what?”

Because twelve year olds don’t call new releases records. Or albums. “A CD, honey.”

“Oh,” she said, still a little puzzled. Because we hardly ever buy CDs any more. She has a few, but mostly, we download songs one by one digitally, after we hear them and like them. So much for all the thought musicians used to put into sequencing and b sides versus singles, etc…music is taken in and digested very, very differently these days.

There it is, for download or, for realz, on the side of the screen over to the right.    You know, in case you’re all old skool and want your plastic case with all the artwork, etc etc etc.

Actually RS and crew would really probably prefer you did that. See, they’ve put out four different versions of the thing, with four different covers, and each has bonus content that is supposed to make all of us super die hard fans drool.

RS and his 4 Different CD Covers. Does this mean the world ends four times? Or Rick survives it four times? Or does it mean Rick thinks we all should buy this four different times?

Honestly, I’m over that part of the whole thing. Truly, I love my boy, Rick. But I’m past needing to have every little piece of wonderment that he’s ever strummed or sung. I don’t need to buy all four to get four different versions of the same thing. Don’t get me wrong, if that’s you, more power to you. Rick would prefer all of us die hard fans were a lot more like you than me. That’s why he’s still out there making all of this happen and how can afford to keep doing it. It’s brilliant marketing.

But since I’m me and a crappy fan these days, I never even bothered pre ordering the CD to get even one of those cool, different covers and any of the bonus content. I meant to, I really, did. But time got away from me, and all of a sudden I’m watching the Voice with my kid and realizing there is a clear cut reason those contestants are singing Jessie’s Girl on October 8. Because that CD is about to drop the very next day.

So for me, and for my world, the fastest and easiest way for this fan to get her hands on the tunes at that point was to download the sucker. Which I did, at 6am. So take that Best Buy, Amazon and the US Postal Service, I like my RS stuff fast and easy. Downloads it is.

I am crazy busy with work so I wasn’t able to really sit down with the music yesterday and let it sink in. I had it playing in the background as I worked on this or that on my computer. And I’m not going to lie, it did not grab me instantly. One of the songs actually gave me a headache (Depravity….what is up with the screaming guitar, or maybe it is just screaming?).

It felt dark. It felt different. It felt like it wasn’t going to be my favorite of all of my RS collections, which is a shame. Because the fact that he’s even put this out and is still writing and creating and touring and all of that is amazing. I should love it. I should love every bit of it. Otherwise, I’m a bad fan.

I turned it off after a few spins. I slept on it, really bothered that I didn’t love love love it like I’d seen people posting online. “Best RS CD yet!” I read somewhere. Where was the love? Was this it for me? Have I really dropped off so far from the fan radar that I don’t even like what he’s doing these days?

The good news is no. That’s not the case.

I put the songs on my phone and started the playlist as I went to town on the treadmill this morning. No distractions, just me and the music. And finally, finally, there it was….I could feel it.

The connection. The awe at the turn of phrase. The need for the song to continue. On and on and on. So no, my first impressions were NOT correct. It’s going to be a good one. It may end up being one of my faves.

I’ll be going through the disc (the files? the digitals?) song by song, but for now, the ones that are really high on my list are Joshua (reminds me of my own son; they are the same age), Gabriel (need to really sit and let this one soak in….) and My Last Heartbeat (which I actually really hated when I first heard it). That line in there: “There’s a hole in my soul where the love leaks out, a shadow in my heart that’s filled with doubt, a devil on my back I can hear him shout….’let me in, let me in….’ “. LOVE. THAT.

So stay tuned. Next up, Review Part Two: Each And Every Song (That a Bad Fan Gets on the Download Only Version)

You and Me

You And Me by Mystery Artist by umesongs

So, it’s been four months since I posted anything to this blog.  Bad, bad fan.  Especially when Rick is coming out with a new record, and everything:  Songs for the End of the World.

I’m chuckling a bit at the web page mentioned above, with the whole “Mystery Artist” angle.  It’s something we had discussed when Rick was releasing Will I? and the subsequent CD, shock/denial/anger/acceptance.  I can’t, actually, remember why he didn’t go that route.  One thing that we did do was build a completely stand alone site for that record, and directed people there rather than encompass it in the entirety of his main site.

But this post isn’t about that.  This post is about “You and Me”.

Initial thoughts:  well, of course I like it.  It feels like classic adult contemporary rock, something that would easily get rotation on Sirius “The Pulse” or anyone’s local AC Top 40 station.  The lyrics are clear, concise and easily applicable to anyone’s experience, which is definitely the recipe for a winner tune.  But you still get the sense that Rick didn’t dumb this down for the mass audience; this is his story, and it just happens to resonate.

“When all the world will burn, to the point of no return, I know it’s true, I found it all comes down to you….and me…”

 

The First Time I Tried

The first time I tried to meet Rick was really the second time.  The first, really, being in the throng of girls assembled by the backstage door at Pine Knob Music Theater in September, 1984.  I was just shy of my fourteenth birthday, having gone to my first concert performed by my favorite (obsession? bordering on psychotic all consuming crazy?) musician, and I thought it would be easy.  I’d read all of those articles in 16 Magazine where girls just “hung out by the tour bus” and there he’d appear.

Except this was a 20,000 person amphitheater.  There was no way anyone could get to the tour bus, hidden safely away in the no man’s land behind security.  And the gaggle of much older teen girls, with bigger breasts and more eye makeup, was a lost cause.

I hung my hope on the next day.

My girlfriend and I had ingeniously figured out which hotel Rick and his band were staying at.  I thought, at the time, we were insanely clever.  We’d called around to all of the high end hotels in the area asking for his tour manager.  Not Rick; we knew he wouldn’t stay under his real name.  Not even the band.  But the manager?  Sure enough, the Somerset Inn offered to connect me to Mr. Dana Miller’s room when I asked to speak to him.  Were they kidding?  Didn’t I sound 14 on the phone?  No matter.  They connected me and all of a sudden, he answered.

Shit!

I looked up at my friend, sitting next to me, waiting.  I was shaking. “He answered!” I mouthed. I was sure I’d be leaving a message and didn’t really expect to actually speak to him.  She nodded, pushing me forward.  I read the script.  It sounded rehearsed, and flat, but I got it out.

“Really? That sounds interesting. Sure, you can come by the hotel.   Absolutely.”

I couldn’t believe my luck!  He was ASKING me to stop by the hotel. Incredible!

“Thank you so much Mr. Miller. I’ll be by later this morning.”  I hung up the phone, it clattering from my shaky hands as I placed it in its cradle.

Oh my goodness!

An hour later, we were standing in the lobby of the hotel.  This couldn’t be right.  I expected something grand, ornate.  This lobby was tiny and minimalist, with a few chairs and one smallish desk in the corner.  I hesitated.  I didn’t know what to do next.

I looked over at my girlfriend for direction. In that time, about ten seconds, a beefy man in a blue blazer came up to us and asked us our business at the hotel. We told him about our previous conversation with Rick’s tour manager, and I showed him the blue box that we had brought to discuss with him.

“No problem. We’ll be happy to deliver this to him,” the man told us, reaching for the box.

“But Mr. Miller asked us to come. He asked us to meet with him personally. Can you at least call his room and ask him if he’d come down?” I gave him my best “please help me I am just a young girl who has a big crush on a rock star” look.

“Sorry. This is the best I can do for you. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure they get it.”

This was not turning out the way I’d planned.  My heart, which had been high in my throat the whole way over, dropped.  I could feel it descending, and my face glowed red with embarrassment and frustration.

I handed the box over. It was clear we weren’t going to be allowed to wait around in the lobby, use a house phone, or anything else.  The beefy man nodded, silently, tucking my precious gift behind the desk, out of sight.  He looked beyond us then, and his message was clear.  There’s nothing else for you here.  It’s time to leave.

My shoulders hunched over as I walked back out the sleek glass doors of the hotel.  It was one of those moments that you remember; the ones that change who you are, just a little.

Or maybe more than a little.

RS Mention on “The Daily Show”

I love Jon Stewart.  I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea (and frankly, having discussed politics with Rick himself, I am guessing Rick probably isn’t a big fan of Jon’s left leaning comedy), but I think he’s awesome.  I think the reason why I dig his comedy so much is that it comes from truth….it comes from real news stories that most people in my generation or younger would find dry.  I don’t know a lot of people who watch the nightly news these days for that very reason. And I think it is fantastic that Jon can take the news and turn it into something that I not only want to watch, but learn from and often laugh out loud at.

(Are you wondering why I’m waxing poetic about Jon Stewart on a Rick Springfield site?  Just follow along with me for another few lines of text, please.)

I’m not going to lie here.  I watched this year’s state of the union while in bed, half asleep.  In fact, I think it actually put me to sleep.  I figured I’d get the high points on the morning news the next day.   But Jon takes the speech, hits the high points and gets in his zingers as well.  I think what’s funniest about this clip is that it is so not a place where I’d expect to hear a RS reference.  And it’s not just a little mention; whomever wrote this bit is obviously a big fan, because it’s right on, to the point and unabashedly enthusiastic.

Enjoy.  The RS mention comes in at about 1:45 on the clip.

The Best Thing About Rick

I am getting a bit lost on the way to re-reading Rick’s autobiography, have you noticed?

To be fair, since I started I’ve had a kid move home, a hurricane, two younger kids start school, a kid move out again for a job (a real job post college!  Crikey!), a husband who travels more than he’s home, a death in the family….I could go on and on.  You want an excuse as to why I’m not blogging about Rick Springfield lately?  I got a hundred of ’em.

But I got reminded of my absolute favorite thing about being a Rick Springfield fan this past weekend.  🙂

No, it’s not that “naked butt that a lot of women have seen” (though possibly, this could be a close second….).  It’s not his high energy shows that usually (except when there’s a lot of red wine involved) leave the crowd screaming for more.  It’s not even those songs that touch you in your heart, in your soul, and make even your skin tingle knowing that somehow, Rick just put into song and words EXACTLY the way you’ve felt at some point in your life (maybe just last week).  No, it’s not any of those things.

It’s the girlfriends.

My apologies to Rick who would probably be a little deflated to know that my favorite thing about being his fan really isn’t about him at all, but there’s the truth, mister.

This weekend I got to “meet” a friend I’ve known online for ten years at least.  Real life friends thought this was a little nuts, calling someone a friend that you’ve only ever talked to on the phone or via email/Facebook/instant message, but I am betting my Rick Springfield friends find this completely normal.  Paula and I have talked for years, and after discovering we were both parents of special needs kids, we really hit it off.  I could tell via our online interactions that we would most likely hit it off for real in person, but somehow, I always kind of hesitated….because what if?  What if the online persona doesn’t match up to the reality of real life?  And so my hesitation has meant several years of sending out messages a few times a year that amount to “one of these days we really ought to….” that never seem to culminate in reality.

But somehow the planets aligned this year and we met up in New York City this weekend.  And somehow, instantly, I felt like I’d been reunited with a long lost friend…which I kind of had, except we’d never really met (OK there was that five seconds in the autograph line six years ago, but that hardly counted). And I should have known it from the start, that it would be awesome, because it almost always is.

Because for me, when I connect with a Rick Springfield fan, there’s already so much we have in common.  For the most part, they’re probably close to my age, since we were all between 10-20ish in the 1980s.  If we like Rick, we all probably like the same types of other music.  We all have that shared history of the sad, unrequited love we felt for him.  And that means we’re probably similar personalities, because it takes a certain type of girl to throw all of your love towards a rock star instead of a bonfide boyfriend.  Lots of times it means we have a shared story of sometime Rick’s music helped “pull us through” something.

When we started to have fan internet email lists, it was like suddenly a huge sorority of girls all over the world who were Just Like Me opened up.  Sure, I didn’t click with everyone, but out of the masses I always found people I really connected with, the ones that were just like my girlfriends in real life but had the added bonus of not making faces when I got all dreamy talking about Rick Springfield…”No, NOT Bruce Springsteen, for Heaven’s sakes if I hear that one more time, I’m going to go crazy!”   Suddenly there were people who actually wanted to muse with me about whether “Inside Silvia” was a metaphor for getting to know this amazing girl or was he just talking about sex?   It was awesome.

But admittedly, since I’ve been “out of the game” for a while, I haven’t been as close with my “Rick Friends” as I used to be.  Real life and it’s demands have given my life a different focus and the time and energy I have left tends to go towards people who I can reach out and actually touch instead of those I can only connect with via a computer screen.  So I forgot, sort of.  How fun a Rick friend could be.  How great it is to take this small part of who you are, the part that hardly ever gets to have a say in your day to day life (unless you’re still one of those people who spends your whole day perusing the sites and reading the emails and message board postings…God Bless You if you are) and let it take over, even if it’s just for a day.  To be silly and frivolous and decadent and childish and gossipy.  To have a day that is all about fun and friendship and connection.

That’s the best part of being a Rick fan.  The people.  The fun, the friendships, and the laughter.

Thanks, Paula, for reminding me.

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Tuesday Morning

It was a warm Tuesday in early September, 2001.

I had eaten my breakfast after dispatching my eldest son off to the bus, sent my husband on his way to work. My eighteen month old daughter was still asleep in her crib and I could feel my baby, a son I knew from our recent ultrasound, poking me from time to time in my belly.

I turned on the Today show on my way to my desk. It was a routine I followed daily; I’d listen to the news while I answered as many emails as possible to Rick Springfield fans before my daughter awoke. This day there was buzz going around about Ticketmaster listing a November tour date in Columbus, Ohio. Normally I would have information posted to the rs.com website before things hit Ticketmaster, so I immediately started sending queries to Vivian, who would in turn ask Rick’s management to verify the listing for us. While I was waiting for an answer, emails from several of my local fan friends popped up, all talking about us traveling to the show together. One of the group was a woman named Marni O’Doherty from New York City; she thought maybe she could swing the date around some work related things in the area.

Behind me, on the television, I heard an urgency in the normally casual sounds of Matt Lauer and Katie Couric’s late morning banter. I glanced at the clock; 8:51 am. My eighteen month old daughter usually woke around 9 in the morning, she would be up soon. I looked back to my emails and continued typing out a response to one of the questions regarding upcoming tour dates, hoping to knock out at least five more before I heard her tell tale singsong request for release from her crib.

“We have a breaking news story,” Katie Couric said behind me from the television. “Apparently a plane has just crashed into the World Trade Center. ” I stopped typing for a moment and looked over my shoulder at the TV. There they were, the two towers I remembered well from my trip to New York several years ago. One of them had a black gash near the top of it; smoke was billowing out into the wind.

I got up from my desk and walked closer to the television. “Oh my God,” I whispered in disbelief as I watched the scene unfold.

My head spun as I heard eyewitnesses recount impossible to believe details of what they were seeing and hearing that September morning. Matt and Katie speculated about what might be happening in the towers. I stood in front of the TV, unable to move. The sun was shining outside here in the suburbs of Cincinnati; looking out my window the grass was green and everything seemed quiet and serene. I blinked several times, trying to reconcile the images and the banter on the television. It just didn’t make any sense. The words “World Trade Center, New York City” filled the screen below the smoke and the towers and the chaos.

Suddenly, I flashed back to the tape cassette sent to me several years ago by Marni, the same woman from New York who we had talked of going to the Columbus show with just this morning in my email box. I’d only met Marni once, last summer in Columbus. She was quiet, and nice; smart and funny. The return address on the envelope had been from her place of employment, a financial brokerage firm. It flashed in my head like a neon sign.

2 World Trade Center.

Holy shit.

As the day unfolded and my own family slowly found their shell shocked way home, the fans on our internet list shared their own personal slice of the world while they absorbed the day’s events. My son stayed in school; my husband’s workplace went on lockdown and I distractedly amused my daughter with puzzles and dolls while I stayed glued to the television and computer.

I wasn’t the only person who remembered where Marni worked. Emails back and forth on our mailing list all day worried about her. Many, many people that were involved in our 1000+ person email list were from the New York area. Scores of them had sent emails letting everyone know that they were OK. They told stories of walking, walking north, walking over bridges. They talked of the stand still of the usually vibrant city and the horror they’d all experienced being there.

But no contact was made all day by Marni. We all knew she’d been at her desk when the tragedy occurred; she had sent an email to our mailing list before 8 am. She’d worked on the 89th floor of the second tower to be hit. All of the news anchors speculated at what floor the plane must have hit; it appeared that it must have hit below where she was.

If she had stayed in her office, she was likely above the site of impact. That evening, as I watched on TV, workers climbed from here to there in the wreckage, the darkness kept at bay by the largest floodlights I’d ever seen. I couldn’t stop thinking of Marni. Did they have televisions in their offices? Had she aware of what was going on? Had she started down the stairs? Maybe she had gotten out entirely but was in a hospital somewhere, unable to check in. Or maybe she was just fine but with a family member who wasn’t.

I didn’t know Marni well. But somehow, living so far away from the tragedy, somehow knowing that there was someone I’d touched, I’d met, I knew struggling there made it more real, more personal, more vivid, if that is at all possible. I grieved for those who knew her better: her family, her husband, her friends. Every person on the news I saw…somehow, it wasn’t an unknown stranger. It was Marni, it was someone just like Marni, maybe someone she knew personally. On that day of terrible things, knowing that someone I’d shared space with before was a part of it made all of it more. I kept wishing, kept hoping, kept thinking that somehow, we’d hear from her in the next hour. Or the next day. Or the day after that. Somehow, that would make all of this horror at least not as horrible, not as unthinkable, not as terrible.

But it was all of those things, and then some. More than three thousand times over.

Our friend Marni was never found in the wreckage. Her family and friends held a memorial for her, a few weeks after 9/11. And ten years later, Marni is still thought of, still remembered, still a touchstone.

We Miss Marni

NY Times Marni Pont O’Doherty Profile

Marni Facebook Page

Marni’s Rick Springfield Writings