Rick Springfield has new 'Karma'
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By Jamie Allen
(CNN) -- You can almost hear the hearts of former 1980s teen queens skipping a collective beat at the news.
Rick Springfield -- that '80s rocker/actor who brought us hit songs like "Jessie's Girl," "Don't Talk To Strangers" and "I've Done Everything for You," the good-looking guy who made a lot of young girls squeal with a passion they'd later know better -- is back.
He's got a new album in stores titled "Karma," his first studio release in more than 10 years. And he's pushing off into months of touring.
He's got something else to look forward to this summer: In August, he turns 50.
"It's a big number, but I'm OK with it," Springfield says. "I went through my midlife crisis at about 38 and 39, so I'm over that."
Instant 'Karma' success?
True fans of Springfield could never get over him. There's relatively high interest in Springfield's return. Platinum Entertainment says advance orders for "Karma" have reached 100,000 copies.
This is partly because it's been so long since his GQ looks and guitar-driven catchy tunes dominated MTV with the albums "Working Class Dog" (1981), "Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet" (1982), and "Living In Oz" (1983). And of course, who can forget him as Dr. Noah Drake on the soap, "General Hospital" (1981)?
Springfield also is benefiting from the resurgent 1980s sound. It's riding the Gen-X wave to re-popularity as Springfield's aging audience looks back to its collective pop-candy youth.
"I think it's pretty bizarre," Springfield says of 1980s nostalgia. "I think you look to music to help you through (growing old), and the music that's strongest in your soul is the stuff you heard as a kid. I do that all the time. I listen to old albums and there's almost a spiritual support there."
'I lost my direction'
But "Karma" is new Springfield, and it has yet to be determined whether fans will take to it once the good memories wear thin. Co-produced by Springfield and Bill Drescher, the CD features 12 new cuts for fans, a vanilla mix of '80s-redolent pop tunes.
The first release is "Itsalwayssomething." The song, title spelling and all, is a tribute to Springfield's father, who died just before Springfield hit it big with "Working Class Dog."
"My dad is a very strong figure in my life and certainly in death he's become even more meaningful. So there's still a lot of things going on in me that pertain to him and my relationship with him," Springfield says.
In other words, the singer's been doing some soul-searching since his last record -- he's a different guy now.
"I think I lost my direction at the end of the '80s; I didn't know what I was writing anymore," says Springfield. He released "Rock of Life" in 1988, then disappeared from the musical map to hang out with his wife and two boys, appearing here and there on television. Most recently, he had a recurring role on "Suddenly Susan," an NBC sitcom.
"I went through some therapy, working on what was going on inside me, and I got back on track. I certainly have different priorities now. The great thing about having kids -- you can finally get your attention off yourself. There's something more to live for."
Springfield has also developed an interest in Buddhism; he's striving for spiritual peace.
"I've always been a spiritual searcher," he says. "When I was a younger guy I was more hedonistic and less concerned with the repercussions. That's why the album is called 'Karma' -- the effects of what I do will be felt after I'm gone, through someone else."
'I can wade into an audience'
Something else has changed for Springfield -- his audience. He says he's tested his market over the past year, performing several concerts. The fans who come to see him are, generally speaking, in their late 20s and early 30s, both men and women, and some are bringing their kids along. It's a far cry from the days of Springfield fever, when teen girls screeched through shows, and could even threaten him with their affection.
"I can wade into an audience now and not lose a limb, so that's great," Springfield says.
But Springfield admits the fans who come to see him want to hear the old stuff. Where does that leave "Karma"?
The Rolling Stones seem to defy the aging process, but can an almost-50 former pop star return to the charts just because his old music brings back youthful musings?
It doesn't seem to matter to Rick Springfield. As he's proved with this latest album, he's in the music business for the long haul.
"I don't ever plan to retire from anything."
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