The Austin Chronicle

Summer Reading

Rock & roll bookends

Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, July 15, 2011, Music

Late, Late at Night

by Rick Springfield
Touchstone, 320 pp., $26

Released Jan. 1, 1981, with No. 1 hit "Jessie's Girl" soon leading the way, Rick Springfield's Working Class Dog rescued a first-class mutt. Down Under son of an oft-relocated army career officer, the artist formerly known as Richard Springthorpe survived early 1960s passage from Sydney to London and back again – the Beatles coming and going – before dropping out of high school and into a six-month tour of 1968 Vietnam in a cover band. Sex and depression ("my Darkness," he calls it – hello, Dexter) had already fused to his music mechanism. When all his dues finally aligned after myriad fits and starts of 1970s successes at home and abroad (16 Magazine starmaker Gloria Stavers, hands off), Working Class Dog jacketed Springfield's hormonal angst like a hot dog bun. In light of Late, Late at Night, named for a lyric fragment from "Jessie's Girl," the 10 riff richocets on WCD might now be heard as obsession on par with Springfield's Californication guest spot rather than the puppy love of his run on General Hospital ("... And he's loving her with that body, I just know it"). Professional name checks – groping Demi Moore on said daytime soap, dating 15-year-old Linda Blair, having Keith Richards check up on him and Patti Hansen during filming for 1984 laugher Hard To Hold – meet personal traumas, including his father's premature disablement and death, his agent's demise at Alpine Valley in Stevie Ray Vaughan's helicopter, and his son falling out of a third-story window. There's a song too many ("Saint Sahara"), but Springfield's arc matches the marvel of his wife's forgiveness for a lifetime of infidelity. "I am a dickhead," he writes late, late in the book. David Duchovny should remake Hard To Hold.

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