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Rick Springfield talks music, Maine, and keeping the demons at bay

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Rick Springfield brought his band to Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery in Union last Friday. Prior to the show, he spoke with Mike Dow about his life in music, including his latest album 'Orchestrating My Life.' Springfield says his sister recently moved to Maine and that he may be visiting the state more frequently in the future. . Rick Springfield brought his band to Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery in Union last Friday. Prior to the show, he spoke with Mike Dow about his life in music, including his latest album 'Orchestrating My Life.' Springfield says his sister recently moved to Maine and that he may be visiting the state more frequently in the future. . (photo courtesy of the artist)

Grammy-winning rocker Rick Springfield brought his band to Maine last Friday for a show at Savage Oakes Vineyard and Winery – a 200-year-old solar-powered family farm and winery in Union that has become a choice concert destination for a variety of national touring acts.

Not long before Springfield was due to take the stage, he checked in with my morning show on BIG 104 FM (104.7, 104.3, 107.7) to discuss a variety of subjects, including his life in music, his newly released 17th studio album (“Orchestrating My Life”) which features some of his best known songs re-recorded with both a band and orchestra, his role as Noah Drake on TV’s General Hospital, living with the depression he’s battled for most of his life, and people with “good hearts” like the kind he finds in Maine.

Dow: On your new album “Orchestrating My Life,” we hear some of your biggest hits reimagined with a full band and orchestra. What gave you the idea for this unique retrospective of your life in music?

Springfield: We did a show in Germany where they have an event every year called “Rock Meets Classic” featuring rock bands with an orchestra. I loved the way the songs sounded so we hired (conductor and arranger) Wolf Kerschek to come over here to do the arrangements for the record.

We took the show on the road for a while to work out the kinks and then recorded it. It’s a lot of sonic information to fit on a record but the mixes came out really well. You have the power of a band but also the added interest of some very cool orchestrations. The orchestral parts are fantastic. There are moments where you hear the orchestra on its own and the band joins it. It’s a really interesting amalgam of the whole thing.

Dow: When you first heard the orchestra playing your songs, did it give you a new appreciation for them?

Springfield: It’s kind of a high to hear something like this done for a bunch of songs that I’d written. There were real parts written for each track and it was exciting to hear it come together. Sometimes they took the record and accentuated certain parts, and other times they just took off on their own. There’s a song called “World Start Turning” that first appeared on my album “Rock of Life” (1988). It was the first song I wrote about my depression. The guys who organized the whole thing liked that song and some of the orchestration is just classic stuff – I love it.

Dow: You’ve been very open about the depression you’ve dealt with for most of your life. I’m guessing some of your fans appreciate you giving a voice to what they’re going through for those who don’t understand depression.

Springfield: God bless those who don’t understand it. I wish them all the best. For the ones who do, it’s tough. It’s a life sentence. You can’t go to rehab for it, but I’ve learned to work with it and use it to push forward. That’s where most of the songs come from. When you suffer from depression, it makes you more introspective because you start out asking “What the Hell is wrong with me?” People with depression maybe spend more time looking inside than people without it, and that can help with songwriting; when you need to pull something a little deeper out of yourself. I think there’s an upside to it (chuckles) and I try to show that.

Dow: You’ve said that meditation has been very helpful for you in dealing with depression. With your schedule, is it difficult to find time to meditate?

Springfield: There’s always time for meditation. I always do it before I sleep and when I wake up. It’s really important because there’s no way I can be depressed when I’m truly meditating and connected to that place which is nothingness. All those demons can’t fit in there. There’s no room for them.

Dow: Many of your hits from the ‘80s and ‘90s hold up better today than the music of some of your contemporaries. Was it a conscious decision on your part not to sound like everybody else on the charts?

Springfield: I was always looking for new sounds and pushing my own envelope. I’m thinking of an album called “Living in Oz” (1983). I had to do a lot of funky press interviews (at that time) because of the whole “General Hospital” thing, and a lot of the writers didn’t think I was a serious musician. They thought I was some geek that had been pulled out of a soap opera and placed in front of a microphone. I had to deal with that and some of the reviews were (laughs) a little unkind. On “Living in Oz,” we really pushed the drum sound and put in a lot of ambiance, which people weren’t doing back then. The reviewers would write about “agitated” drum sounds and they really didn’t like it. A couple of months later, you heard that sound everywhere.

Dow: You joined the cast of “General Hospital” just as the album “Working Class Dog” (with the #1 hit “Jessie’s Girl”) started to break. It must have been tricky to juggle your music career with reporting to the set at the very non-rock star time of 6:00 a.m.

Springfield: I had recorded the album but the record company (RCA) was holding it up because it was basically a guitar-based pop-rock album when the only things on the charts were disco and ballads. They kept stalling the release not knowing what to do with it. It ended up colliding with this completely separate gig that I got out of nowhere on a soap opera. The show took off and the record started getting played, then everyone found out it was the same guy. Everyone thought it was planned but there was no plan to it.

Dow: When you were asked to return to General Hospital a few years back (Springfield left the show in 1983 but returned from 2005 to 2008, and again in 2012 and 2013) what did it feel like to go back?

Springfield: It was actually very freaky. It was still the same place. You walk into wardrobe and there was the Noah Drake coat hanging there with his name tag. I did a scene with Jackie Zeman (Bobbie), who played my love interest on the show back in the ‘80s, and we’d both gotten married and had kids. We actually talked on the show about the characters having children. It was very bizarre that what we were talking about was a real passage of time.

Dow: You have visited Maine a number of times over the years. When you think of Maine, what comes to mind?

Springfield: When I think of Maine, I think of my sister, who’s coming to the show (at Savage Oakes). She just retired with her husband and moved to Maine. I’ll probably be spending more time here because of it. We lived close to each other in Los Angeles but now she lives here – and she loves it. She keeps sending these amazing photos of their many acres with a river nearby. I’ve noticed that when you get out of the big cities, you find people with good hearts and a good direction and she says that is certainly true about Maine.

Last modified on Wednesday, 04 September 2019 11:34

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