I’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.