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Rick Springfield and Richard Marx reveal the songs they wish they’d written

The pop rock luminaries also open up about their decadeslong careers and touring together.
/ Source: TODAY

It's been nearly 45 years since Rick Springfield released his chart-topping hit "Jessie's Girl," and the rocker still brings down the house whenever he plays the iconic song.

"I'm very proud of having written it. It's a gift that it's gone where it's gone, too," Springfield tells TODAY.com during a sit-down interview.

And, despite having performed the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 song hundreds (if not thousands) of times, the singer-songwriter says he still gets a thrill every time he plays it.

"That one, it's like, 'Yeah, let's party, let's share this,'" says Springfield.

It's "Jessie's Girl" that put the Australian-born musician on the map, as well as the radar of millions of women who simultaneously watched him as Dr. Noah Drake on the daytime soap opera "General Hospital."

The perfect storm of exposure catapulted Springfield into global fame, earning him the distinction of being a bona fide heartthrob in the 1980s, throughout which he released a string of successful albums including "Working Class Dog," "Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet" and "Hard to Hold."

Now, at 74, he's still out on the road, playing to eager audiences, and says it's unlikely he'll ever stop.

"I always say if I retired, I'd probably just get a band together and hit the road," Springfield says with a laugh.

Over the past several years, he's been joined onstage by fellow musician and friend Richard Marx for a series of acoustic concerts in which the pair play their hits.

Rick Springfield and Richard Marx in concert in 2017.
Rick Springfield and Richard Marx in concert in 2017.Alamy

A pop sensation in his own right, Marx went to the top of Billboard's Hot 100 in the '80s and '90s with songs like "Hold on to the Nights," "Right Here Waiting" and "Satisfied," along with many others.

Marx, who joined Springfield in talking to TODAY.com, says the music collaboration is a fulfilling one and that their two-man show is as much about their back-and-forth banter as it is about music.

"The bits in between the songs is the show," Marx explains. "We're both really grateful to have a catalog of songs to play and we deliver that musically solid, but it's the stuff in between the songs ..."

"That's the fun," finishes Springfield.

The pair met backstage during one of Marx's shows in 1988 and, after becoming fast friends, have remained close since. When they're together, they say they can't help but goof around.

"We crack each other up, which happens every show, where (there's) something that's completely unplanned or just stupid," Marx tells TODAY.com.

When they aren't performing together, Marx and Springfield each tour separately with their impressive list of No. 1's. When asked how being on the road is different now than it was a decade or two ago, Marx says that over time, he's gained a deeper appreciation of the audience.

"The pure joy of walking offstage, knowing that everybody had a great time and that connection, that's precious to me," says Marx.

Rick Springfield performs at his Las Vegas residency in 2023.
Rick Springfield performs in Las Vegas in 2023.Denise Truscello / WireImage

For Springfield, it goes deeper, saying that in his early days of success, fame got to his head. "When you're young, your ego kind of does take over," he explains. Those days, however, are long behind him. "Now it's like, 'Hey! We're still alive and doing this. How cool is that?'" says Springfield.

Springfield also says that like Marx, he's come to realize over the years that it's not so much about him but rather the audience.

"It's about them. Because if they weren't there, you'd still be recording your demos and sticking them on your shelf and have nothing," he says.

Stranded on a desert island with only one record?

Both musicians say that even after all this time, they haven't grown tired of performing their hit songs, in part because they're the ones who penned them.

"When I look down at the setlist, I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, I love that one' or, 'I can't wait (to play that one),'" says Marx. "I wrote all those songs, (Rick) wrote all his songs. When I've heard about people saying, 'I'm so sick of playing that song,' it's never a song that they wrote."

As far as songs they've haven't written go, there are a few that Marx and Springfield say they wish they had.

Among them? "Red Rain," by Peter Gabriel, says Marx.

Springfield agrees, calling Gabriel his "favorite" all-around artist. A Beatles fan at heart, Springfield also says he wishes he'd penned "every great song the Beatles ever wrote," as well as the Kinks classic "You Really Got Me," a song that led him to break the law in order to own it when he was a kid.

"I remember being 12 years old and I actually stole that single because I couldn't afford to buy it. So, I went and stuck it under my jacket and walked out with it," says Springfield.

It's still a tune he says gives him chills when he hears it. "That was suddenly rock and roll and it blew my mind."

If he were stranded on a desert island with only one record to play for the rest of all time, Marx says he'd choose the classic Earth, Wind & Fire album "I Am."

And, on brand, Springfield would pick the Beatles' "Revolver."

The road to 'world domination'

After more than four successful decades in the business, the two musicians reflect on what remains unfinished in their respective lives.

"I feel like I checked so many of the wish list, bucket list stuff off over the years that I'm not motivated by that," says Marx, who's been married to actor and fashion magnate Daisy Fuentes since 2015. Instead, keenly aware of "the clock ticking," he wants to simply enjoy life.

Daisy Fuentes and Richard Marx  in 2018.
Richard Marx with wife Daisy Fuentes in 2018. Alamy

"More outside-of-my-comfort-zone experiences, learning new stuff," he says, explaining that even though he's pretty good at making the most out of living, he "could be better at that."

Next up for Springfield? "World domination," the musician jokes before getting serious and saying that fully embracing life is what matters the most to him.

Candid about his struggle with depression through the years, Springfield says that it's the condition that likely led to his fame.

"That's what gave me my drive initially, that pulled me from a little farm town in Australia to come over here and try my luck," he says.

But despite his success, Springfield says that fighting the "big critic in my head" remains a challenge. "It's like anything, it's part of an upside and downside to everything. A lot of the ideas for my songs came from me being depressed and trying to figure out why."

Rick Springfield Portrait Session
Singer-songwriter Rick Springfield in 1990. Maureen Donaldson / Ochs Archive via Getty Images

Through meditation and other supports, including his longtime wife, Barbara Porter, Springfield says he's been successful, to some degree, in combating his demons. And though he still feels like he's still got unfinished business, he tempers it with being grateful for what he's got.

"My favorite thing is just to sit at home with my wife and our dog, having had our kids over for dinner and writing," he says.

Because, when it comes down to it, Springfield says that's what he and Marx are at their core: writers.

"That's the most joy I have, when I really feel something has come through and I've gone, 'Wow, I think I might have nailed that.'"