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Rick Springfield is pretty sure that when he dies, “Jessie’s Girl” will be playing at his funeral.
“Sort of like ‘Thanks for the Memories,’ or something,” he said with a laugh.
Though the simple pop song from 1981 about coveting your neighbor’s girl will always shadow Springfield’s career – all talk show appearances invariably include a “Jessie’s” sighting – he isn’t bitter that his past tends to overshadow his present.
But his present is something worth paying attention to, particularly his recently released “Songs for the End of the World,” his 18th studio album and most melodically cohesive work since 1999’s “Karma” album and most lyrically challenging since 1988’s “Rock of Life.”
He’ll play many of his new tunes on Nov. 29 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre with his band of more than a decade. For those who have never seen Springfield in concert before, it’s worth noting that his live shows are always an electrifying mix of many of his 17 Top 40 hits and new material, which he’s steadily released since “Karma.”
Even at a still-boyish-looking 63, Springfield is climbing on seats in the audience and attacking his guitar with fan-bestowed clutches of red roses.
“I [tour] so I can get out and have fun. Playing in front of people, that’s my connection to humanity. I don’t hang out with people much,” he said in a recent conversation from his home in California.
He recorded “Songs for the End of the World” – which sports four different collectible covers — in a relatively quick 28 days and spent about six months writing tunes such as the guitar-drilling rocker “Wide Awake,” the cheeky three-chord singalong “I Hate Myself” and the valentine “Joshua,” written for his twentysomething son of the same name.
“He thought it was OK,” Springfield said of his offspring’s reaction to the song. “He basically said, ‘That’s cool, dad.’”
Along with his continuing music career, Springfield’s acting gigs have remained steady over the years. He’s performed on Broadway (“Smokey Joe’s Café”) and headlined the Las Vegas show “EFX” in the early 2000s. In 2005, he returned to “General Hospital,” the show that broke him as heartthrob Dr. Noah Drake, and still appears as a guest star on the soap.
A couple of years ago he played a “twisted” version of himself on Showtime’s “Californication” and popped up on “Hot in Cleveland” in a self-deprecating role as a guy pretending to be Rick Springfield. He recently heard from producers of the TVLand sitcom to discuss a return.
“If the story is good and funny, I’d be willing to do some more stuff there,” he said of the Betty White-starring show. “I definitely want to get something in the coming year. I owe an allegiance to ‘General Hospital,’ but soap operas are tough. It’s a lot of work for not a lot of reward.”
Along with planning a new tour to launch in January, Springfield is also keeping an eye on his recently released documentary, “An Affair of the Heart: The Journey of Rick Springfield and his Devoted Fans.” The doc, which explores the devotion of Springfield’s fans, has scooped up film festival awards in Nashville, Boston and Florida and will eventually be released on DVD.
“It’s snowballing and getting great reaction,” he said. “It just takes a lot to get the word out because there’s so much information out there. Bands and artists are having a tough time finding loyalty from fans.”
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene