Negative Capability

Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

Negative Capability

Putting Out Fire with Gasoline

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Fuck Rick Springfield

My brain is thirsty.

It’s a giant sponge that absorbs information and it always feels parched, so I suck up new information all the time. When I listen to music, I try to parse meaning and analyze subtext. Maybe it’s purely out of boredom or an unrecognized need in me to fill the void. There’s a common misconception that we use ten percent of our brains, but there’s no way I only use ten percent of my brain. I did some research and it turns out the ten percent thing is complete bullshit. They can do CAT scans now and doctors know definitively that we use all of our brains. At least some of us do; I can’t speak for you.

That’s a pretty heady intro for what is a pretty simple observation that leads to a joke. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and refuse to lock into a genre or two. I have many moods and my choices in music reflect that. For every angry, hard-edged song I have by DMX or the Revolting Cocks, I also love a dozen acoustic songs by sweet, sensitive bands like Prefab Sprout and Frazier Chorus. I also have a lot of pop stuff that I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of, but it’s a part of my personal history. What am I talking about? Hall and Oates. Love them. I don’t care if it’s not hip or cool to say so, but those guys wrote some great songs that I still enjoy.

I was at the gym and a random song came on that I didn’t immediately recognize. It was Rick Springfield’s song, “Jessie’s Girl,” and for some reason, way back in the 80s, Rick was named guitarist of the year by a music magazine. In Australia. I didn’t even realize he was Australian, but I immediately equated that win to a Special Olympics medal. When all the competition is retarded, it’s not hard to shine. So I listened carefully to the words and tried to figure out what was really being said. By the time he got to the first chorus, I said to myself, “This creep is a fucking stalker! What kind of douche lusts after his best friend’s girlfriend, especially since Jessie’s never done a damn thing to Rick Springfield.” Well, spelling Jesse with an “i” is pretty gay, but he does have a hot girlfriend. Here are the lyrics that open the song:

Jessie is a friend
Yeah, I know he’s been a good friend of mine
But lately something’s changed
It ain’t hard to define
Jessie’s got himself a girl
And I want to make her mine

So what we know so far is that Rick Springfield has a good friend named Jessie, but apparently “something’s changed” that has altered the dynamic of the friendship. And what is it that has changed? Now, “Jessie’s got himself a girl.” I have seen a lot of friendships change as a result of a girlfriend’s influence, but in this case, it’s pretty obvious that the girlfriend isn’t the cause of the problems, per se, but rather that her existence threatens the friendship because Rick is obviously not a good friend. He uses his friends as a farm team for new women to date, maybe because he’s a creepy douchenozzle who can’t seem to get a girl on his own. Do you think Jessie would steal Rick’s girl? We can infer that he wouldn’t because Jessie is a good friend, by Rick’s admission. Good friends don’t steal their friend’s girlfriends. Even the goddamn Ten Commandments say that you shouldn’t covet your neighbor’s wife, even if she is very hot. Let’s continue:

And she’s watching him with those eyes
And she’s lovin’ him with that body, I just know it!
And he’s holding her in his arms, late, late at night

The telling line in here for me is the emphasized, “I just know it!” How does he just know it? Because he is clearly spending a lot of his idle time fantasizing about her naked. He wants that body. He wants to possess her, like a trophy. She has no feelings of her own, she is merely an object that he wishes to steal from his “good friend.” When he says “that body,” it’s obvious that he has broken her down into consumable body parts, like she’s an object instead of a person. Rick is the kind of guy that would joke that the useless piece of skin around a vagina is called the woman. You can also tell that Jessie’s girl is the object of Rick’s obsession for two reasons. First of all, he doesn’t even address her by name, she is always just “Jessie’s girl.” Her raison d’être is just to be a prized possession, which is exactly why Rick wants her. Secondly, the fact that he imagines that Jessie is merely “holding her in his arms, late, late at night” is keeping him up at night. Rick can’t think of anything else besides the object of his desire.

You know I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
Why can’t I find a woman like that?

I think it’s pretty obvious why Rick can’t find a girl: He’s a fuckin’ creep. He makes it seem like all you need to do to sleep with a woman is “find” her. Jessie’s girl is not lost. She is not in need of any help, yet here’s Rick, wondering why he can’t find women like that. Well, you might find a woman like that if you stopped looking for girls in your friends’ arms! Those girls are taken already.

I play along with this charade
There doesnt seem to be a reason to change

First of all, charade and change don’t even come close to rhyming. Secondly, this alleged “charade” that Rick speaks about so nonchalantly is, in fact, a functioning and healthy relationship that Rick clearly covets. In a charade, you pretend to do something to fool others, but if it’s a charade, and the one person the charade is for is not fooled, then it’s not much of a charade, is it? Clearly Rick’s emotional issues are getting the best of him. When he says that there doesn’t seem to be a reason to change, it is not clear if he is talking about himself or Jessie and his girl, but he does make it clearer in subsequent lines:

You know I feel so dirty when they start talking cute
I wanna tell her that I love her but the point is probably moot

Cute is not a perfect rhyme for moot but I'll cut him a break just this once. This is the first time in the entire song that Rick seems to have enough self-awareness to realize that he is clearly transgressing the boundaries of a normal friendship. It is interesting to note that the only time he starts to feel “dirty” for coveting his friend’s girl is when they start “talking cute,” as Rick puts it. They are not “talking cute” to make Rick uncomfortable, rather they are just enjoying each other’s company in a loving relationship. He says that he loves her, yet isn’t love borne of a mutual feeling, an outgrowth of attraction and compatibility? Or does he just want to tell her that he loves her because he wants to steal her away? If you were dating someone and their best friend just blurted out that they loved you, wouldn’t you be freaked out? I know that I would be, but I am not even remotely attracted to Rick Springfield.

’Cause she’s watching him with those eyes
And she’s lovin him with that body, I just know it!
And he’s holding her in his arms late, late at night
You know I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
Why can’t I find a woman like that?

What good stalker doesn’t repeat himself often? I think it would be quite possible for him to find a woman like that if only he would look in places besides his friend’s house. You will never find a girl for yourself if you only look at other people’s relationships. As has often been said, if they will cheat with you, they will cheat on you. Who’s to say that once Rick has stolen Jessie’s girl away that she won’t then turn around and go after one of his friends? Or that he won’t decide that he now likes her roommate, or maybe he just plans to steal Jessie’s next girlfriend? This made me start to wonder if there really was a Jessie behind all this animosity. I mean, if you were to write a song about stealing your best friend’s girl, would you really use his name in your song? You would be risking a justifiable punch in the face and the dissolution of your romantic ambitions, but at least it would be out there on the table. The real-life guy that the song is based on was named Gary, but Rick changed the manly name of his best friend Gary to “Jessie” to further humiliate him, all in an attempt to steal his girlfriend away.

And I’m lookin’ in the mirror all the time
Wonderin’ what she don’t see in me

Imagine, if you can, Rick looking in the mirror all the time, trying to imagine the thoughts of this girl, who doesn’t even have a name. He never names her because her name is completely irrelevant. He’s like a spoiled baby who only wants the other kids’ toys. I am sure that we have all seen a gorgeous girl dating a schlub of a guy and wondered, “Why him and not me?” I mean, Julia Roberts married Lyle Lovett and while there’s no doubt he’s got some talent, his greatest talent has got to be hypnotizing women. Julia could have almost any man in the world (not me, though... she’s too toothy!) yet she chose to marry a guy who could charitably be called “awkward looking.” When we see situations like this, it’s only natural to wonder what the attraction is, but Rick knows what the attraction is, and he even says so. Jessie’s been a friend, yeah, he’s always been a good friend of mine. Being a good friend is a trait that many women will find attractive, but Rick only sees opportunity.

I’ve been funny; I’ve been cool with the lines
Ain’t that the way love’s supposed to be?
Tell me, why can’t I find a woman like that?
You know I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
Why can’t I find a woman like that?
Like Jessie’s girl
I wish that I had Jessie’s girl
I want, I want Jessie’s girl

I think Rick has answered his own question. He can’t find a girl like Jessie’s girl because the only place he is looking is his best friend’s arms. If Rick could do the honorable thing and put bros before hos, he might still be friends with Jessie, but I think the fact that Rick wrote a song means that he’s pretty committed to stealing his best friend’s girl. What if Jessie knew about it? How would Jessie feel? Well, I think I know the answer, because Jessie wrote a rebuttal song.

You’re always dancing down the street / With your suede blue eyes
And every new boy that you meet / He doesn’t know the real surprise
When she’s dancing ’neath the starry sky
Ooh, she’ll make you flip (here she comes again)
When she’s dancing ’neath the starry sky / I kinda like the way she dips
Well she’s my best friend’s girl / She’s my best friend’s girl
But she used to be mine

It really makes you feel for Jessie because not only did his former friend steal his girlfriend, but he has to see them together all the time. I am sure that Jessie would eventually realize that she is a cheater, so it’s probably for the best that she’s gone. The amazing thing to me is that even Jessie doesn’t want to name her, almost like it’s too painful to speak her name.

Coming Next Time:

John Waite claims that he isn’t missing you, yet he is writing songs about you to proclaim over and over that he is not missing you, at all. Methinks thou doth protest too much, douchebag.

Web Exclusive

I did a little research and it turns out that the song is based on a true story. He was taking a stained glass class with this girl who had a boyfriend. She was not interested in Rick and I also learned that Rick did not know that the man's name is spelled Jesse. He got the name Jessie from a football player who had that as his last name. So, creepy and stupid.

I also discovered that his real name is Richard Lewis Springthorpe but he uses Springfield as his professional name. Hhe tried to hang himself when he was 17 but the knot came undone and he lived and, most importantly, it says in his Wikipedia that from late 1974 to early 1976, he was in a romantic relationship with actress Linda Blair, which started when he was 25 and she was 15!!!! I fucking told you he was a creep. Oh, that's not enough? Ok, well he became an American citizen and announced that he votes Republican. Here's the weird coincidence that brings us together. His middle name, Lewis, is the same as my father and he has two sons (like my father) and the younger one is named Josh, just like me. Weird.

Web Exclusive Bonus

Want to see something just a bit weird and kind of creepy? Here's the intro to a 70s cartoon called Mission Magic. They used Rick's likeness and his voice for the show, which was about a young witch. You know, when I look at all this evidence, I am starting to wonder if maybe Jessie's "girl" was a guy and Jessie was the girl. Her "girl" was the submissive in the relationship. So much to think about. If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, Google Rick Springfield plastic surgery. It is claimed that he's had botox, a brow lift and lip injections.

I can’t believe Rick Springfield still has a career! The dude was born in 1949, which means he is in his 70s now. Clearly he has had some work done on his face and I'm sure he got a hair transplant. He wrote a memoir in 2010 called, Late, Late at Night, which is a reference to his signature stalker anthem. He had a small but important role in the second season of HBO’s True Detective. He’s a creepy, plastic surgery nightmare who gets a good talking to from Colin Farrell. I like to think that Colin is playing the part of Jessie and he has returned to pay Rick back for his treachery.

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