Rock

Rick Springfield Unveils Orchestral Version of Iconic 'Jessie's Girl': Premiere

Rick Springfield
Elizabeth Attenborough

Rick Springfield

Rick Springfield raised his eyebrows a bit when he was invited to Germany to play six weeks of orchestral concerts last year. But the outing gave birth to his new album, Orchestrating My Life, whose rendition of "Jessie's Girl" is premiering exclusively below.

"I went...'What?!'" Springfield tells Billboard with a laugh. "But this is something they do regularly with American artists, so it wasn't like some brand new thing. I figured they must have some kind of handle on it, so I went over, and it was pretty great. We had great musicians and great arrangements (by conductor Wolf Kerschek), so it was pretty painless, and we decided to do a record of it."

Orchestrating My Life, due out April 26, features key Springfield hits such as "Don't Talk to Strangers," "Affair of the Heart," "Human Touch" and "I've Done Everything For You." But the "wow" moments for him came on a pair of deeply personal tracks -- "My Father's Chair," which he wrote after his father passed away, and "Irreplaceable," which he composed after his mother died two years ago. "Those for me are my way of honoring them," Springfield says. "'My Father's Chair' has been recited at services and even chiseled on gravestones. And when my mom died...You can't just sit down and say, 'Alright, I'm gonna write a song about my mom now.' It's just got to come, so I had to sit until I had an idea that echoed what she meant to me, and I hope ('Irreplaceable') did that for her. I really like the arrangement on it; I did a lot of stuff at home in my studio but they really touched it up nicely with some strings and let it be what it is."

The Orchestrating My Life arrangements got their U.S. debut on March 30 at the Saban Theatre in Los Angeles, a show that Springfield filmed as a calling card to solicit shows with other orchestras around the world. "It's a lot of fun to do," Springfield notes. "I do the rock show with my band, and I have a Storytellers show which is just an acoustic guitar and telling stories and is very mellow and laid back. And now there's the orchestral show which adds, I guess, a touch of class to it. They're all three completely different kinds of performances. It really changes the way you approach the songs and the way you are on stage, even."

Springfield says he has more new music "in my head," which he hasn't sat down to turn into songs just yet. Meanwhile he's completed a second novel, World on Fire, and is "in the middle" of a third, which he says "is going good and bad, like it always does. I'd like to finish it f***ing soon, but it'll be done when it's done."

"It's all such a part of one thing that it's hard for me to differentiate sometimes between acting and music and writing," Springfield says. "It all comes from the same core -- just a slightly different set of tools. I'm sure they've had an effect on each other and each has bled over into the other career."