Best known for the megahit “Jessie’s Girl” and his stint as Dr. Noah Drake on “General Hospital,” Rick Springfield was the 1980s version of Dean Martin. Women wanted him, and men wanted to hang out with him.
Some decades later, he has sold more than 15 million albums, toured the world and turned in memorable performances on TV shows and in films. (And yes, women still want him.) Mr. Springfield has just released an album and video called “Stripped Down,” which features raw live versions of his best-known hits including, of course, “Jessie’s Girl.”
Preparing to perform at the Lincoln Theatre on Sunday, Mr. Springfield talked about pre-show rituals, the gifts of female fans and life as a grown-up teen idol.
Question: Why did you make a stripped-down acoustic album and video?
Answer: Actually, the show has been evolving in the months since the DVD was filmed, so it’s kind of a companion to the show as it is now. It’s the type of performance I can change from night to night because there’s no band to cue. It’s just me, so I can go wherever I feel. I love having the ability to change things up.
Q: What did you discover about the songs when you got them down to their core?
A: That they are good songs. I’ve always felt if you can’t sell a song with just a voice and an acoustic guitar, then there’s something missing in the song.
Q: Any songs that lent themselves to the process better than others?
A: They all seem to work. They may take on a different vibe than they had originally, but they are a lot of fun to play like this. Certain songs like “My Father’s Chair,” [which] were pretty stripped down on the original recording, are more seamless in the transition to a solo show than something like “Affair of the Heart.”
Q: Any that didn’t sound good stripped down?
A: I was worried about “Human Touch” because it’s such a synth-driven song, but I originally wrote it on a guitar, so even that one kind of works. You just don’t feel like you want to leap up and start dancing to it, but they still dance at the solo shows sometimes.
Q: The medley of songs to your father is touching. How do you perform them without breaking down?
A: I do sometimes tear up, but it’s the nature of the song, so I just work through it. It’s hard for me when I hear or see others crying because it reminds them of the pain when they lost someone too, but it’s also a healing thing to share grief.
The song set is my memorial to my dad, so I will continue to play it even when it hurts.
Q: Can you ever imagine doing a live show without playing “Jessie’s Girl”?
A: Maybe on Mars. If they accept me for the Mars 1 mission, I’ll let you know how it goes. In space, no one can hear you clap.
Q: Was “Jessie’s Girl” a real person?
A: You’ll have to come to the solo show to find out the answer to that. I tell the stories of all the songs I play in the show.
Q: Are you the only rocker to ever use the word “moot” in a song?
A: I believe I am. Not sure anyone else has thought to tackle it. Glad I chose that rhyme, because the other choices I had sucked.
Q: Your live shows are packed with joy and energy. What is your pre-show ritual?
A: Just a quick shower. And we always do a cheer for someone or something meaningful before we go on. It’s really the energy of the audience that lights me up. I love playing live and always have. I have a great band, and we all like each other, so I’m doing something I love with people I love, so it’s win-win.
Q: I notice women bring you baked goods at your live shows. How did that tradition start?
A: I’m not sure. I think they think I’m too thin and need to eat more. [laughs] I guess I’m too old for stuffed toys now, but Starbucks cards are always welcome. I think it’s just a way for some of the fans to show they care.
Q: You were once thought of as a teen idol. How hard was it to get folks to take you seriously as a musician?
A: They still don’t. I think I just figured that if I stayed in the game long enough, they’d figure it out for themselves whether or not they thought I was a real player.
Q: Any acting gigs in the future, or are you focused mainly on music these days?
A: Both. We are almost finished with the new album. I have a movie called “Ricki and the Flash” with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline coming out in August. I’m in the new season of “True Detective” on HBO. And I’m applying for the position of janitor on the Mars 1 mission. So I’m keeping busy. [laughs]
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Rick Springfield’s “Stripped Down” tour
WHERE: The Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
WHEN: Sunday, 8 p.m.
INFO: Tickets $35 to $225 by calling 202/888-0050 or visiting TheLincolnDC.com