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Rick Springfield talks Long Island performance, what's next

Rick Springfield signs copies of his disc "Stripped

Rick Springfield signs copies of his disc "Stripped Down" in West Babylon. Credit: Jay Gilbert

If you grew up in the '80s, it was nearly impossible to avoid Rick Springfield. With hit songs like "Jessie's Girl," "Love Somebody" and "Don't Talk to Strangers" playing in heavy rotation on the radio and MTV and his popular stint as Dr. Noah Drake on "General Hospital," Springfield was everywhere.

Today Springfield, 65, still manages to look youthful and perform with exuberance to doting fans. He will hold an in-store performance, Q&A and album signing at Looney Tunes in West Babylon on Saturday in support of his new live release, "Stripped Down."

Is doing an in-store a throwback for you?

It's pretty old school. I haven't done one in years. Now it's a novel approach to release an album. Fans like it when you come out and do personal stuff. I get the value of that.

What was the inspiration for stripping down some of your older songs?

I realized that there are a lot of stories behind my songs that are fun to tell. I wanted to see if they'd hold up and I could pull it off. If you can't get it across with just a guitar and voice, something is missing.

You were very candid in your 2010 memoir, "Late, Late at Night." How did it feel to have all your personal stuff out there?

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I enjoyed writing it, but once I realized other people were going to read it, I got very nervous. I called the publisher and said, "You can't release this book!" They talked me off the ledge and convinced me that it should be out there and not to worry about the dark stuff like my depression. I bit the bullet and went with it. Everyone was very supportive.

"Jessie's Girl" has resonated with fans for decades. Why does that song stand out among the rest?

It's a familiar story told with a bit of humor that was released in the summer. People just picked up on it. I think I've written better songs, but that seems to be the one people know the most.

How do you feel about being considered an icon of the '80s?

I'm comfortable with it in that I get the pigeonholing thing. But I think the best stuff I've done has been outside of the '80s. On the other side of that, I'm glad I'm not completely forgotten.

What kind of impact did being on "General Hospital" have on your music career?

It was both positive and negative, as life always is. I'm a big believer in ying-yang. There's nothing all great and nothing all bad, it's usually a combination of both. It was great in that it added fuel to the rocket ride and it was bad in that some radio stations stopped playing "Jessie's Girl" once they found out I was on a soap opera. There's always been the thought that I'm a one-dimension pop guy. But I'm actually a three-dimensional pop dweeb.

What's your current live show like?

It's a storytelling format. The great thing about it is that I can change it up because there are no other band members to cue. Even in the question and answer session, people can say, "Why didn't you play this song?" and I can just pick up the guitar and start singing it. I love that aspect of it. It's intimate and very free-form.

You seem fan friendly. Do you enjoy meeting them?

I haven't always been like that, but once I realized they were doing it for reasons, I thought it was about time I did, too. I realized the importance and genuineness of real fans. I like to meet them. They come from the same place you did when you first got into music and someone caught your ear. We are all fans of somebody. When I first met Paul McCartney, it was a big deal to me.

When did you start to embrace it?

I took a break in 1985, when things were still roaring. I got very down and had to pull the plug to survive. I was away for a long time. I did my first live gig in the early '90s, and the people who came out were really excited. It was a thrilling experience and I really got that connection.

In the song, "If Wishes Were Fishes," you say, "I wish people would stop calling me Rick Springsteen." Is that something you've dealt with a lot?

Yeah, I have, but it's really a joke. There is some confusion, and I get it with the name. It couldn't be much closer. I heard Bruce gets that occasionally, too, so I don't feel so bad. But I've actually never met him.

Your live shows are known for their high energy. What keeps you so pumped on stage?

I absolutely love playing live. It's like you are throwing your best party and everybody is there for the right reason. I totally get my energy from the audience. I can go up there not as pumped as normal and the fans just lift me up.

You are going to be in "Ricki and the Flash" with Meryl Streep. What was it like acting opposite her?

We shot it in New York last fall. I play Meryl's boyfriend. She's the singer in a band. The story, written by Diablo Cody, is amazing. Kevin Kline plays her ex-husband. Jonathan Demme directed it. It was a great experience and I learned a lot.

Last year you celebrated 30 years of marriage. How do you balance your personal life and being in the entertainment business?

I'm actually away less than a regular hardworking person. I found a great balance. I don't go away for six months at a time. The longest I go away is for two weeks. Home life has always been important to me. My family is No. 1 and it helps that it's my focus.

You often use dogs on your album covers. What do dogs bring to your life?

They are Prozac covered in fur! I've had as many as three, but I have one at the moment, a Norwich terrier called Bindi. I've always had dogs in my life. They are the greatest invention.

You are 65, but you look far younger. How do you pull that off?

I watch what I eat and work out. I realized that it didn't matter if I was rich and famous or married happily if I wasn't well.

What is coming up next for you musically?

I'm in the middle of recording a new record. I have 15 new songs filled with great hooks and lyrics that say something about certain moments in my life. I even wrote a song with Jay DeMarcus from Rascal Flatts. It will be coming out later this year.

RICK SPRINGFIELDWHEN | WHERE Noon, Saturday Looney Tunes, 31 Brookline Ave., West Babylon

INFO Must purchase CD (sold out, check for last-minte availability), 631-587-7722,

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