Music

Karma

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It’s not a comeback, just an album, called Karma.

“It’s always something,” coos Rick Springfield, recovering teen idol turned Zen philosopher.

Springfield made his first break from heartthrobdom with his late-’80s album Tao. Could he have known then that yoga would be the next big thing for women
on the verge of outgrowing him? Spooky. His “leaky ship came in,” he muses, and he’s “good at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.” Spring field, now
in his fifties and married with children (sorry to
be the bearer of bad news), wants you to know he’s still here. He knows you’re still there.

The album is recognizably his: Lou Reed–wannabe guitar, Steve Winwood–wannabe crooning, Bruce Springsteen–wannabe poses in a sweat-drenched shirt on the CD jacket. There’s that twice-per-album moderated squeal, and a delicate blend of songs about his father dying with songs
for women—particularly women in their late
twenties and early thirties who, like me, had Rick Springfield for wallpaper around the time they were discovering masturbation. No longer the Jessie’s Girls of yester-decade who wouldn’t have him
(I’m so sure), Springfield’s updated femmes
fatales are either trapped in self-made prisons, or they rescued him from his. He must mean the prison where his every venture—music, movies, soap operas (General Hospital before Ricky Martin)—generated surplus revenues and hordes
of screaming, sexually developing girls.

If I had married him, I’d now have a husband who sings, “In Veronica’s head the wheels were burning, turning out of frustration,” cracking his voice on “wheels.” It’s this misplaced passion, though, that earned Springfield his seat at the heart of many a modern female sexuality (in some cases a gilded throne—visit his Web site for proof). “Every little
bit of love I give to another,” woos the title song, “you know that I believe it comes back to me.” What love is he giving me? I lost my virginity to this man
so many times I have to buy his albums, but in the end it’s like the old days: “I’ve done everything for you, you’ve done nothing for me.”

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