Friday, November 16, 2007

Rick Springfield mixes old with new in concert

Kane County Chronicle

Just in time for the holidays, ’80s pop icon Rick Springfield has released a new Christmas CD, “Christmas With You.”

The title song and video is a tribute to the soldiers who have fallen serving our country, with all proceeds going to American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.

Before coming to St. Charles to perform at the Arcada Theatre, the 58-year-old musician/actor discussed the war in Iraq, the state of the music industry and more.

You’ve been busy touring this year. I see that in August, you performed in your native Australia for the first time since coming to the United States in 1972.

It was really cool. It was great to see old friends. The place has changed pretty drastically. The audience reaction was fabulous, and they’re doing a DVD of it that will be out.

You have a new CD, “Christmas With You,” that’s dedicated to fallen soldiers. Was this something you felt you needed to do at this time?

Yeah, everybody is complaining about the war and I’ve seen a lot of “war is not the answer” stickers, but I’m not seeing anybody coming up with any answers. I was raised on Army bases, and the guy who wrote the song with me, Derek Hilland, his dad was in the Navy and fought in Vietnam. I performed for the Vietnam troops in 1968 and 1969. I was actually in Vietnam in Christmas of 1968. We felt we had to do something positive for the soldiers who have fallen over there and their families who are not getting a lot of support from the entertainment industry.

I also see you have a new album coming out in the spring and the first single is called “Who Killed Rock ’n’ Roll?” Is that a statement about the industry?

Pretty much. Basically, it’s a greed problem. The record companies especially have just collapsed. There’s no real record industry any more. They’re trying to deny it and adjust their figures and everything, but it’s constantly a downward trend. And it was said this Christmas will probably be the last big Christmas for CD sales. From then on, it will be either free downloads or from iTunes and sites like that. I personally don’t know where any record stores are.

What keeps you wanting to play shows?

I am humbled and honored that I actually have some past music that people want to hear, but for me personally, it’s about playing new music, getting new music out there.

Speaking about your hits, was it a total shock that “Working Class Dog” did so well?

I always think that my albums will do well, because I have a lot of faith in what I do. But at that point, I had kind of given up on it. There were just ballads on the radio, and the record company didn’t know what to do with it. It was basically a guitar pop-rock album. So they just kept holding on to it. And then they released the album, and it happened to be at the right time. Radio was ready to hear more guitar again. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time with the right song (‘‘Jessie’s Girl”).

Was it hard being on tour with that record at the same time you were on “General Hospital?”

It was a lot of work, but I was ready for it. I waited for a long time to have my music heard, so I was definitely up for it.

Why did you decide to return to “General Hospital” in 2005? How did that came about?

They called me up. By 2005, the radio and record industry was in the state it is now. There were people going on reality shows to get new stuff heard or draw some attention to their new music. Everybody was doing whatever they could to make up for the lack of radio. Noah Drake was a character I was known for, so I didn’t feel like a total sellout for going back there and bring some attention to my new music. People forget. You have to keep reminding them that you are there and doing new stuff.

Why do you think your music has held up over the years?

I have no idea. There’s something in the music. Certainly “Jessie’s Girl” has got a life of its own beyond anything I did, with it being in movies. It brings in young kids now who saw it in movies.

What’s the story behind the song?

There’s a guy that I knew and I was hot for his girl. She didn’t have any time for me, so I wrote the song. His name was Gary, but it didn’t work as well for the song.

Is it still fun for you to perform the song?

Yeah, because it’s really beyond the song for me now because I’ve done it so many times. The interaction is always fun, and everybody knows it.

Rick Springfield

When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles
Tickets: $59-$75
Information: 630-587-8400 or

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