I WAS NEVER JESSIE’S GIRL, RICK WAS JUST A FRIEND
Today is Rick Springfield’s birthday. Rick “fucking” Springfield is 70-years-old today. Seventy years of Aussie-rocking, "Jessie’s Girl"-loving, Californication-starring greatness.
Why do I care? Because Rick was my first fantasy friend.
Stop the presses! Stalker in the house!
Calm down. It's a true (and innocent) story. I promise there isn’t a restraining order with my name on it.
I’ve seen Rick 52 times. I interviewed Rick for one of my first positions at the beginning of my career as a music editor. I’ve produced two shows with Rick at major festivals, and I’ve met him twice. I’ve watched Hard to Hold more than 100 times. I’ve bought every single album, I’ve suffered through many episodes of General Hospital as they paged Dr. Noah Drake. I’ve cancelled on friends and family to go see Rick if he was within a 90-mile radius.
Rick Springfield has been my saving grace throughout my entire life.
Rather than jump into the predictable "fan girl" story every faithful, obsessed lady will tell about Rick, mine is drastically different. I never wanted to make out with Rick. I never wanted to marry Rick, have his children, or live happily ever after with him.
I was about 5-years-old when I heard “Jessie’s Girl” for the first time. This was also around the time when my Polish nanny would tell me to be quiet while her stories were on so she could hear what the great doctor was about to say on General Hospital.
It was also the time my mom went through her fifth stint of rehab and my dad married a woman who would soon become the biggest villain in my world. Oh yeah, it was also the time I had to tell a judge which parent I wanted to live with while both of them sat in the courtroom, staring at me with great despair. I’d go to school and couldn’t tell my friends or teacher what was going on at home because it might embarrass the family.
Thankfully, this was also the time I found my great fantasy friend Rick Springfield.
A life-size poster of Rick Springfield lived on the wall in my playroom. Every time I would go into my sanctuary of Weebles and Barbies, I would talk to Rick about what was going on, or at least what my young brain could process. Every night, when either parent couldn’t tuck me in, I would give my Rick poster a kiss and tell him I’d see him tomorrow.
As you can tell, my reality then was chaotic and dark. Rick Springfield was my light. His poster was the only constant that wasn’t hurtful.
But things got better.
My mom got sober. In fact, she stayed sober for 13 years and became the best mom a girl could ever have. She showed up to every event, made every day better just by smiling, and was (and always will be) the woman I strive to be. She thrived in sobriety and helped many other addicts find their way back to a better life.
In fact, as she approached her first year of sobriety, she bought us tickets to see Rick. I was the ripe age of 7 and it was my first concert. I could hardly wait. I didn’t sleep for a week leading up to the show.
As the concert started, I was so nervous and excited. I didn't know what to expect.
As a young Rick began to really heat up and tear off his shirt, the ladies around me threw their bras at the stage. I didn't expect that.
Then my mom looked at me and said, “You’ve had enough Rick Springfield for a while. And you see these women acting like floozies? I better never hear or see you doing that in your lifetime. It’s not very ladylike.”
I tend to think Rick had a different perspective than my mom, but her point was made. And I can say in all truthfulness that my bra has always stayed on throughout every Rick Springfield show.
Well done Mom!
As for my dad, well his story will be another blog post altogether.
Over the years, I grew up and Rick’s poster was replaced with a New Kids on the Block poster, bed sheets, and pillows. But I didn’t turn my back on Rick, he just wasn’t the main player in my life anymore.
Then in July 2000, an editor of the magazine I worked at told me I had to interview this guy from the 80’s named Rick Springfield. I think I passed out and screamed at the same time! I was a five-year-old all over again.
Rick called me for the interview. We talked about his past career, life on General Hospital, and his greatest hits album that was out. He shared the deep depression he experienced through losing his dad, and the inspiration these dark moments produced in the form of new music.
I went home that night believing life would never get any better.
But the next morning was the worst day of my life. My friend came to my door to tell me my mom died. She lost her battle with addiction.
For those who suffer from addiction or love someone who is addicted to substances, when the addict returns to their drug of choice, it comes back with a vengeance. It's so bad that many people don't survive, including my mother.
In that moment, and the months that followed, I was truly a scared child all over again. I learned that not even the highest highs can prevent a sudden rock bottom.
That day, Rick called the office of the magazine to tell me a few more points he wanted me to include in the article. My colleagues told him what happened. Rick asked for my phone number and he called me to lend his condolences.
I never answered the phone, but played the voicemail every day. Once again, when life got dark, Rick Springfield was my light.
Despite my newly shattered reality, I would move on to build a great career in promotions and public relations, and Rick Springfield was part of some of my biggest professional moments.
When I finally met him, I didn’t remind him of the call. I didn’t tell him about my borderline stalker tendencies. I didn’t even stutter when I spoke.
I just thanked him for being Rick Springfield. He looked at me like I was crazy and hesitantly said, “You're welcome?”
This past year I married the love of my life, and Rick walked me down the aisle...sort of.
See, I told everyone I was walking down to a classic. They all had their guesses on what that meant. But nobody got it right.
See, when I turned the corner to make my way down the aisle, the guitarist launched into “Jessie’s Girl.”
How could it be any other song? I can't get through life without my fantasy friend Rick Springfield.