When I was in Junior High and High School, I was famous for mostly one thing... having the world's biggest crush on Rick Springfield. I believe the best descriptive phrase would be "obnoxiously obsessed". I would challenge my friends to come up with trivia questions that I could not answer. I knew most of the answers, but when they occasionally came up with one I didn't know, I'd pull the answer out of... well, you know. The brand name of the champagne he was holding on the cover of "Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet"? Really? But I really did think I knew it all.
Until I read his memoir.
It seems tragic to me that a man who has brought such happiness, enjoyment, and (let's face it girls) lusty feelings to millions around the world once tried to hang himself when he was seventeen. I know the landscape of my life would have been vastly different, and not for the better, had he succeeded... although that tragic picture of me in a shirt with epaulets playing a tennis racket like a guitar could disappear without one word of complaint from me.
The meaning behind some of his songs have also been altered for me forever.
The book is set up in a mostly chronological order. I had several strong impulses to play his albums as I read when he mentioned them... and I'm a fast reader. Despite the 320 page length I think I could have kept up with the pages as the story behind them unfolded, with a suitable pause during the dry spells.
Rick is exactly twenty years older than me. I've known that for years. What I didn't realize at the time is that he and my mother are almost the exact same age, Rick being two weeks younger. I mean, I knew the facts of it, but I never really put it all together. When I was one, he was dodging bullets and playing gigs for the GIs in Viet Nam. My stepfather was there several years later, but it's likely they trod on the same patch of dirt once or twice.
Mostly what I didn't know was the sad stuff, the tragic stuff. The scary stuff. The idea that he's had a shadowy dark figure he's nick-named Mr. Darkness tailing him all his life, whispering in his ear that he's not good enough.
Has any of this tarnished my view of my idol? Not so much. At fourteen I probably would have been devastated, but I'm a grownup now (and pretty damn long in the tooth myself) so I understand it a lot more now than I would have then. I have my own tragedies and regrets. My own little Miss Darkness that travels with me wherever I go, whispering that what I've made is crap. Yeah. I totally get that, and I feel badly for him... that he can't just pick up a flashlight, shine it on his darkness, and stab that fucker right between his eyes, banishing those dark whispers forever.
Huh, I guess playing Alan Wake has given me an alternate method for dealing with darkness. Sometimes I wish real-life demons were as easy to vanquish as fictional ones.