Late, Late At Night: A Memoir, by Rick Springfield
There is a common thread that runs through the lives of many people involved in entertainment and creative arts in general, and that is a certain relationship with the darkness. In few books, though, is the unifying theme of the entire book a man’s wrestling with the darkness as if it was an actual person, an unwanted companion that strives to bring pain and misery into life. And that makes this a particularly interesting memoir, in the way that the author is talking directly to the reader, about his depression as if it was a person, and giving a rather unsympathetic look at himself and his own insecurities and the rock and roll lifestyle he enjoyed for far too long, long after mainstream audiences stopped caring about what he had to release. And if you are a fan of his music or in general have a dark feeling about the creativity of the contemporary world, this book makes for a sobering tale about a man’s struggle with depression and insecurity and the human tendency to sabotage one’s success, which one can certainly see in the course of the author’s musical career if one is inclined to pay attention to that sort of thing.
Overall, this particular book consists of a mostly narrative structure, beginning with an introductory chapter in media res that looks at the author at the period just before his period of fame hit while hinting that it didn’t work out as well for him as he would have liked. Then there is a look at the author’s childhood, which was spent dealing with being part of a poor family and moving around a lot and having the dream to play rock and roll and a certain obsession with women that was not backed with a firm knowledge of women. The author details his life, with a particular degree of fuss about those he thought of as pansies (although Elton John gets mentioned a lot as well as the generally small nature of Australia’s music scene). A substantial portion of the song details the author’s fondness for groupies and cheating on his partners as well as the inspiration for his songs in his life and relationships, and the book gives a fair understanding of Springfield as a man and as an artist and musician and actor, and if you happen to like the author’s music there is a lot here to appreciate.
In reading this book, most readers will have a fair amount of sympathy for the women of the author’s life. Whether that is Sahara, who died of cancer in her youth and had made a collaborative album with Springfield, or with various groupies who are alluded to, and especially with the people that the author has been in a relationship with, including his wife. The combination of toxic insecurity about partners cheating as well as being a rampant cheater and the occasional abuser of drugs and alcohol does not make for an ideal partner, no matter how successful someone is at writing and recording music. The author is aware of this and both tries to justify himself as well as comment upon himself as being unsympathetic. He acknowledges why his actions hurt others and appears to blame things that happened in his childhood, although he does not specify having suffered child abuse. It would not be surprising, though, if child abuse of some fashion is at the base of so much of the darkness that is going on here, both in the author’s life and in those he happens to interact with so tragically. This is not a book that is going to make you think a lot better about Rick Springfield as a person, although it does help to explain the autobiographical tone of the author’s songs so well, which is something I had long suspected of him.