Rick Springfield: A one hit wonder is a wonder.

RS6-e1346944431337I’ve never been a guy for details so when Mitch Joel informed me that Rick Springfield was performing as a part of Content Marketing World in Columbus, Ohio, I realized I hadn’t thoroughly read the conference’s extracurricular agenda. I also realized that I hadn’t thought of the name “Rick Springfield” since the last time I watched my favourite scene from Boogie Nights.

Leading up to last night, his performance was met with mischievous smiles and eye rolls. It was the kind of thing people expected, I guess. An older rocker who we (kinda) remembered from pre-teen dances and the early days of MTV performing for gaggle of badge-flapping, khaki wearing, “What’s the ROI?” spouting, content marketers.

Oh, I wouldn’t miss this spectacle for all the Facebook Likes in the world.

For those who don’t know, Rick Springfield had a song, Jessie’s Girl, that spent 2 whole weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1981 and netted him a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. Sure there were other songs and albums and a stint on General Hospital, but Jessie’s Girl is what most people remember about his career.

Rick Springfield just celebrated his 63rd birthday.
Let me repeat that. He’s 63.

You know who else is 63? Bill O’Reilly. Victor Garber. Hell, even Ric Flair was born in 1949. Just 2 years from collecting a pension and with (I hope) enough money to last and Rick Springfield is still performing? And at a corporate show to boot?

Well, Rick rocked. And there was no one more surprised than me.
He sang his heart out, played the heck out of his guitar, worked his way through the crowd and genuinely seemed to have a good time.

What I liked most about it though, was how comfortable he seemed to be with himself and his place in history. Introducing one song, he chuckled, “You probably remember this song from when you were wearing a training bra.” For another, he actually apologized for making the movie, “Hard to Hold”.

He could have phoned it in. He could have played some stuff, collected his cheque, and visibly grumbled about the experience but he didn’t. He was a total pro. He was more energetic, passionate and honest about his work than most people in the audience are about theirs. Even if he hated the whole thing, he certainly didn’t show it. I don’t know that I’ll ever love his music but I certainly respect him for it.

Because, deep down, on some level, I think we’re all Rick Springfield.

Our careers have peaks and valleys and we normally have our biggest successes in our younger years. Having a number one song (however we define it in our own industries) is rare and when it happens, we should acknowledge that it’s probably some combination of talent, drive, working with the right people, and the miraculous alignment of the planets in our favour. Some of us are simply lucky that it all comes together. We should be proud of the achievement but also recognize how fortunate we are to have been a part of it.

I once opened for Jann Arden at a corporate event and before singing her hit song, Insensitive, she said, “I’d like to thank this next song because it allowed me to buy my house and send my parents on many cruises.” I don’t like the song but I loved her honesty about her role in its success.

As Rick showed  our group last night, what follows success is probably more important than what precedes it. We can acknowledge the accolades but we should be more proud of the passion for the craft that got us there.

When I turn 63, I hope I show the passion for my craft that Rick showed for his.
Keep rockin’ Rick. And don’t talk to strangers. 

10 Comments

  1. Great post! I am especially impressed that you managed to put Ric Flair in there.

    Woooo!

  2. Deb

    I’m a Rick fan and last night while doing a Google search I came across a ton of Twitter posts/pictures from guests at the conference that were at his show. I was very happy to read that pretty much everyone said how blown away they were by his performance and like you, surprised. You’re right, he is comfortable with himself and if you saw the 4 episodes of “Californication” he guest starred in you’d also know he can laugh at himself. And you may think he secretly hated being there, but being on stage playing and interacting with the crowd is when he’s most happy. So that energy, enthusiasm & smile you saw was genuine.

    Thanks for the great review!

    • Ron

      That’s good to hear. Finding out that nice people are, in fact, nice makes me even happier.

      Regardless, thanks for reading.

  3. Kris

    I really wish people would stop calling Rick a “one hit wonder”. Jessie’s Girl spent 32 weeks on the Billboard Top 40 and yes, that song was a HUGE thing for Rick but he has had SEVENTEEN top 40 hits and has sold millions of records. His best stuff has been his last few records in fact. His concerts are stellar as you have figured out for yourself and there is also a movie about him and the relationship he has with his fans called An Affair of the Heart (www.rickspringfielddoc.com) that is raking in some film festival awards and is a GREAT film that not only gives one a great idea of what to expect at a Rick show but is heartwarming to boot. And get ready, his new album SONGS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD comes out on October 9 and having heard a portion of it, it is AWESOME!! 🙂

    • Ron

      I think it’s only natural for those who don’t have an intimate knowledge of his body of work to default to a typical description. Every artist has a group of loyal fans who relate to their music and who naturally, place a greater emphasis on their achievements. It’s certainly not wrong, I just don’t think it applies to most.

      Anyway, the title was meant to be tongue and cheek. I was trying to say that while we may refer to him as a one-hit wonder, we shouldn’t. His career shouldn’t be about # of hits just as a marketer’s campaign shouldn’t be about Facebook Likes.

      The real pros are the ones who don’t concern themselves with definitions or awards or billboard rankings. They simply put their heart and soul into the work. Success, however you define it, usually follows.

      Thanks for being passionate about Rick and his music.

  4. Christy

    I want to Thank You for your Wonderful review about Rick Springfield. I’ve been a RS Fan for over 32 years. This sounds crazy, but before Facebook came along I thought that I was the Only Rick Springfield Fan in the World!! He Is a very hardworking musician and sadly a Underappriciated one too! I’ve been to countless concerts with my kids and Rick Never disappoints!! So glad that you could see what all us Rick fans have been enjoying for years! Long Live Rock And Rick!!!

  5. Teelee

    Thanks for the honest great review about Rick and his performance. I am one of the diehard fans who is very passionate about Rick and his talent(s). He truely loves performing and his connection with the audience is his joy in performing. It is always great to see someone in the media giving Rick “props”.
    And, Rick Totally Rocks!

    From a grandmother who still rocks

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