In a searingly candid memoir which he authored himself, Grammy Award-winning pop icon Rick Springfield pulls back the curtain on his image as a bright, shiny, happy performer to share the startling story of his rise and fall and rise in music, film, and television and his lifelong battle with depression.
In the 1980s, singer-songwriter and actor Rick Springfield seemed to have it all: a mega-hit single in “Jessie’s Girl,” sold-out concert tours, follow-up hits that sold more than 17 million albums and became the pop soundtrack for an entire generation, and 12 million daily viewers who avidly tuned in to General Hospital to swoon over his portrayal of the handsome Dr. Noah Drake. Yet lurking behind his success as a pop star and soap opera heartthrob and his unstoppable drive was a moody, somber, and dark soul, one filled with depression and insecurity.
In Late, Late at Night, the memoir his millions of fans have been waiting for, Rick takes readers inside the highs and lows of his extraordinary life. By turns winningly funny and heartbreakingly sad, every page resonates with Rick’s witty, wry, self-deprecating, brutally honest voice. On one level, he reveals the inside story of his ride to the top of the entertainment world. On a second, deeper level, he recounts with unsparing candor the forces that have driven his life, including his longtime battle with depression and thoughts of suicide, the shattering death of his father, and his decision to drop out at the absolute peak of fame. Having finally found a more stable equilibrium, Rick’s story is ultimately a positive one, deeply informed by his passion for creative expression through his music, a deep love of his wife of twenty-six years and their two sons, and his life-long quest for spiritual peace.
I’ve struggled a bit with how I would write this review. Normally, I would make mention of different bits and pieces I particularly enjoyed, and have plenty to say about the book overall. That’s not going to happen with this review.
I’m still conflicted with my rating. I gave it three stars but a think a truer rating (for me) would be more like two and a half stars. There were some parts of it I really liked… several honest-to-goodness laugh out loud moments… but there were many, many things about this book that, if I’m being honest, I absolutely detested, and it took me much longer to read than a book of this length ordinarily would have taken.
So what about this book did I find so unlikable?
1. The over-use of foul language. I expected it to be there, but the way it was liberally peppered throughout, over and over again, was extreme overkill. Surely there could have been a better, less salty way to express what he meant to get across without dropping an f-bomb every few sentences?
2. Too much information regarding his sex life. Your life is what it is, and he obviously had issues in this area, but after a while, it seemed like he was intent on listing as many of his sexual conquests as he could remember. With regard to his infidelities, although he always spoke of how ashamed he was of it (and I believe he was/is)… if I’m being honest, it came across as though he were bragging about it. I doubt that was his intent, but that’s what it felt like as I read accounting after accounting after accounting ad nauseum of this part of his life. I found it to be extremely distasteful, and would have been quite happy if he’d been a bit less wordy about it all.
3. The way his older brother is barely mentioned except for childhood memories. It seemed curious to me that he is mentioned so little. Was it done to protect his brother’s privacy (perhaps at his own request)? Do they have a poor relationship and don’t communicate with one another? The reader is left to wonder, with no clear-cut answer (or even a vague one) given as to the lack.
4. Last but not least, his writing style. This was the most surprising thing of all. Being such a huge fan of his songwriting abilities, I was expecting this to be an extremely well-written book, so it was a huge let-down when it wasn’t. That is not to say it was all bad… certain passages actually did live up to my high expectations regarding style. But judging the writing style of the book as a whole, well… I’m sad to say that I found it lacking, and this was the worst disappointment of all to me.
Before I started this review, I skimmed through several others here and saw many glowing reviews and five star ratings. One said something along the lines of “if you are a true fan, you will love it”. Well… I am a “true fan”, believe it or not, and I did not love it. I liked it. Sort of. But I would be a liar if I said I loved it. I really wish I had… and I thought I would… but I just don’t.
So what did I actually like about this book?
1. The witty parts. As I said in the beginning, there were many times I laughed aloud at one anecdote or another. He comes across as having a really good sense of humor, and it was very enjoyable to read at those times.
2. His brutal honesty about how his depression, suicide attempt, and thoughts of suicide throughout the years.
3. The love he has for his family, and how secure he is in the knowledge that he has always been successful as a father, even if he felt a failure in other areas of his life.
4. His protectiveness of his wife’s privacy, and how committed he is to making his marriage work, despite all the mistakes he has made in the past. Both are admirable traits.
5. Getting a peek into the meaning behind the lyrics of certain of his songs. I’ve always found it interesting to learn what lyrics really mean, as opposed to what it seems like they mean. I wish there had been more of this throughout the book, but I suppose it’s best to have things left to wonder about. (Clearly, given the negative portion of my review, some things are best left to the imagination.)
Would I recommend this book to another Rick Springfield fan? Yes, I would… but with a warning. People tend to fall off when put on too high a pedestal. So, unless you are willing to do away with the rose colored glasses forever, and see him as he really is (warts and all), it’s probably best not to read this brutally honest (at times too honest) memoir.
Author: Rick Springfield
Title: Late, Late at Night
Published: October 12, 2010 by Touchstone Books