Jane Hutcheon


20 Aug

How Will You Judge Your Life? One Plus One

Jane Hutcheon

If you love contemporary music and the personalities who sang your favourite songs, the ones that remind you of a certain era, then there’s nothing better than a juicy autobiography tapped out by an ageing rocker.

Some of those memoirs leave out salacious details of the parties, the sex, the drugs and the alcohol.  We may be left curious about the extent of the unreality of those performers' lives.

Some years ago, Moby told me that at the height of his fame, he hired a person just to organise his parties.

Other musicians, like Mark Seymour from Hunters & Collectors, don’t do tell-all.  He didn’t talk much about things that happened during the parties and drinking, probably in deference to his partner and family.

So I was unprepared when I started reading Rick Springfield’s 2010 autobiography Late, Late at Night recently. 

In short, Wow!  and Whoa!

At one stage he tried to halt the publication of the memoir, but got talked out of it.

Rick Springfield was born in Sydney and lived in Melbourne as a teenager.  He, became one of the biggest pop/rock stars in the world.  His hit Jessie’s Girl scored him a Grammy Award in the early Eighties.  He also studied acting and got a role in the hit soapie General Hospital, playing Dr Noah Drake.

Let’s say that his life in the US was lived to the full.  Let's be kind and say fidelity was not his forte.

Incredible as it may seem to some of us, Rick is about to turn 66.  He is touring again.  He has never given up writing music.  I got to interview him for One Plus One while he was in Australia promoting his film Ricki and the Flash.  He has an American accent now, but he does a nice impersonation of his Mum, who still lives in Victoria.  He’s a nice actor, by the way, and there weren’t many musicians/actors who could have played the part he did... and played it so well. He was Meryl Streep’s love interest in the film.

In our interview, Springfield doesn’t back away from his dodgy behaviour.  But I think it’s missing the point to dwell on that.  Everyone stuffs up.

I guess what fascinated me most, both in his book and in our chat, was the constant presence (since puberty, he says) of ‘Mr D’. Mr D, AKA ‘The Darkness’. It’s the alter-ego of Rick’s depression and Rick has give him a character. He once even saw him sitting at the edge of his bed.  Audaciously, Mr D even sits in on the interview.

I feel slightly uneasy that we will air the discussion about Rick’s teenage suicide attempt.  We talk about it because it was a defining moment.  These days Rick is very glad to be alive. This is the message to take away from the discussion. 

But I’m moving towards something else here, so stay with me.

In Late, Late at Night Rick describes the moment he decides to stop his music career following the birth of his first son in the mid 1980’s .  He’s living in a big fancy Spanish-style house in Malibu, surrounded by luxury and elegance; a waterfall, tennis court and meditation gardens.  It’s “the house of our dreams that I’ve worked so hard to secure,” he says in the book.  In an effort to calm “what fees like the beginnings of a storm in my soul,” he starts to make a mental list of his accomplishments because he believes he has ever reason to be satisfied with what he’s achieved.

I’ve played sold-out concerts in theatres, halls, arenas, and speedways.  A Grammy Award and numerous Grammy nominations, American Music Awards... I’m famous (good for prompt restaurant reservations), and I’m so wealthy that I can’t even count how much money I have (although, looking back, I will wish I’d given it a shot).  And to top it off, I married my true soul mate and we’ve given birth to a baby genius.

And then it hits him. 

Success has not changed me.  It is not the panacea, and I am not a better person for it as I had hoped I might be.  I certainly have not escaped the depression that has dogged me all my life, like I’d been pretending I had.  I’ve changed everything around me that I can possibly change, but I am still the same.  After all the mountain climbing, the battlements storming and victorious plundering, it’s still the same guy looking back at me from the bathroom mirror.  I am not cured.  And I am finally made aware of the “myth of fame” ... you can’t imagine what kind of a mind-f*ck it really is to truly understand that, in and of itself, fame is not ultimately transformative.

A good lesson.  Or maybe just a good conversation to have.

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