If my life had a soundtrack, Rick Springfield’s music would be on it.
It’s not necessarily that I’m a huge fan of the Aussie-born ’80s pop star/actor.
It’s that his music has intruded upon my life in various ways since childhood. My oldest sister, Kim — for example — prepped for high school each day blasting “Jesse’s Girl” from our record player over and over and over. Today, my morning drive to the office generally starts with my phone syncing to the car stereo and, by default, playing the first song listed alphabetically on my iTunes list — Springfield’s “Affair of the Heart.”
I can’t bring myself to remove the song from my playlist. Such a stray from my daily routine might create problems elsewhere.
Plus, it’s not so bad.
I remember a time when my sisters and I would rush to turn on General Hospital in the summer of 1981 just to see if Springfield’s character would make an appearance that day.
I also remember how I watched the movie “Hard to Hold” over and over with the aid of my family’s C-Band satellite dish back in the mid-1980s.
Remember C-Band satellites? They were as big as a backyard kiddie pool, and you had to point them to various spots in the sky to pull in pretty much any station you wanted. (But you could never sneak out of bed to watch music videos in the middle of the night because Mom and Dad would always hear the sound of the dish turning.)
Thankfully watching TV is much easier now; pick a platform and the entire history of Hollywood is practically at your fingertips.
Except “Hard to Hold.” I couldn’t find the feature film starring Springfield and Janet Eilber on Netflix or Hulu, and Amazon Prime led me to believe it couldn’t be found on any digital platform, even if I wanted to rent it. RokuTV finally came through for me after a multi-platform search a couple of weeks ago.
But after 93 minutes of rewatching what I thought was cinematic awesomeness in 1984, I realized once again that some of your favorite things from youth are better left as a memory.
The story is about a rock star named James Roberts (played by Springfield), whose post-concert dressing-room mishap leads to a fender bender with Diana Lawson (played by Eilber), a stuffy child psychologist who is off-put by pretty much everything about Springfield’s character from the get-go.
Nevertheless, Roberts pursues her in extravagant rock-star fashion, and she resists at nearly every turn. He buys her a new car to replace the one he dented; she is unimpressed. He shows up at a restaurant where she’s dining and sends a bottle of champagne to her table; she tells him to leave her alone. After finding out she’s a fan of Tony Bennett, he shows up outside her window one night with a look-alike of the crooner to serenade her.
Lawson finally gives him a chance after the Tony Bennett scheme. But when she later shoos him out of her house, he throws a tantrum and sends a rock sailing through her bedroom window.
When the movie was released, these scenes were considered romantic and humorous. But they didn’t age well through the post-Me Too era. If carried out today by a real-life rock star, those antics would be considered stalking, result in a restraining order and a breaking news alert from TMZ.
These characters laugh off the broken window and begin a romantic affair that apparently stymies Roberts’ ability to create new music. Thrown into the mix is a character who apparently was Roberts’ ex-wife and creative partner.
To be honest, I rewatched this movie partly because I could not remember what purpose the creative partner/ex-wife had in the story. Unfortunately, I’m still confused, and that’s one of the reasons the movie has lost a lot of the charm the young version of myself found.
Not to mention, the characters have little depth. Roberts is a cliché, Lawson is completely unlikable and it takes all of 93 minutes to make the viewer believe the two characters in this love story could wind up together, but when it’s all said and done, you’re pretty sure their relationship will only last a month.
If you’re a fan of 1980s rock — specifically Springfield’s music — the soundtrack somewhat redeems the movie. The songs “Don’t Walk Away” and “Love Somebody,” Springfield’s biggest hit since “Jesse’s Girl,” are among the most notable songs in the collection.
Those two songs — and other Springfield hits — also dwell someplace on my 1980s playlist on my phone and pop up occasionally on long car rides, as well. (Don’t judge me.) I consider them a guilty pleasure and take comfort in the fact that, while Springfield’s 1984 feature film has lost its appeal, I like his music.