One of the greatest mysteries in pop music is the true identity of Jessie’s girl, the unattainable object of Rick Springfield’s desire who inspired one of the biggest hits of the 1980s. (Oprah Winfrey once even tried to hunt down the real couple, but it was a cold case.) Now, nearly 40 years later, Springfield himself has teamed with Coheed and Cambria for a twisted official sequel. The careful-what-you-wish-for story song "Jessie's Girl 2," complete with horror-movie-poster graphics straight out of Elm Street, imagines what might’ve have happened if Rick had gotten the girl in the end… and she turned out to be a psychotic murderess.
"As a fan of movies, it just seemed like a really interesting idea,” Coheed and Cambria vocalist/guitarist Claudio Sanchez, who first pitched the idea to Springfield during an Instagram Live chat, says in a statement. Springfield was on board, and the result, Sanchez says, is "a National Lampoon’s movie meets So I Married an Axe Murderer."
“Jessie’s Girl 2,” which brilliantly fuses the nervy powerpop of Springfield’s 1981 original with Coheed and Cambria’s tightly wound prog/emo aesthetic, tells a classic tale of karmic retribution — as Springfield, who stars in the sequel’s music video as a bitter bartender, comes to deeply regret lusting after and luring away his best friend’s significant other. “Sure, I probably deserved it,” laments the chorus, which is met with the harmonic scolding, “Damn right, yes you did, boy!”
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“So a miracle happened/And I got my wish/You see, Jessie saw it fitting/Strange to me then, makes sense to me now/I go and take what’s his/Oh, he did me dirty/’Cause things got funny as time exposed/The flipside of Jessie’s girl that no one knows,” the song begins, noting that eventually “the hunter became the hunted” and the song’s anti-hero is now trapped in a toxic relationship.
Springfield himself sings on one particularly vicious verse, wondering how his life would have panned out differently if he hadn’t gotten involved in this foolish rock ‘n’ roll love triangle: “When she broke his heart that fateful night/Jessie played sincere, he sure seemed cool/What I hadn’t known was I was his fool/We’re married now, house, job, three kids/Dreaming of what life could have been/Stranded on the ifs and maybes/Had I left that monster in the ‘80s!”
In 2018, while speaking with Yahoo Entertainment before a live audience at the Grammy Museum, Springfield admitted that after “Jessie’s Girl” became a No. 1 hit in August 1981, “I had a couple of friends looking at me sideways going, ‘Are you after my girlfriend?’” But the backstory of Jessie’s girl is a lot more benign than Coheed and Cambria’s sinister interpretation. Springfield met Jessie — whose real name was actually Gary — in, of all places, a stained-glass-making arts and crafts class in Pasadena, Calif.
“[Gary and his girlfriend] were at a class I was in, and the class broke up before the song even came out. I'd recognize her if she came up to me, for sure, but she never has, so I don't think she really knows,” said Springfield. “I was in a stained-glass class. I thought my music career was going nowhere, so I thought, ‘Hey, I'll support my future family by becoming a stained-glass master! F****in' pipe dreams! So, I started going to stained-glass class, and there was this girl in the class, and she was stunning and hot and everything. But she had a boyfriend. His name was Gary. If someone was in a stained-glass class in 1979 in Pasadena and his name was Gary, and he had a hot girlfriend, you got to put the things together, right? No one's ever contacted me, but Oprah did try to find them. … Seriously, Oprah went and found the stained-glass class in Pasadena. But the teacher had died two years before she had found them, and they'd thrown out all his paperwork a year later. Oprah missed it by a year, but they went looking.”
Well, if there is any truth behind the strange fan-fiction of “Jessie’s Girl 2,” Springfield should feel relieved that he never pursued Gary’s girlfriend in real life — and that Oprah never helped him get back in contact. But, speaking on the subject of getting back in contact: It appears that the woman who makes a cameo at the end of Coheed and Cambria’s “Jessie’s Girl 2” music video is the actress from Springfield’s original “Jessie’s Girl” video, which was the No. 1 song in America when MTV made its cable network debut on Aug. 1, 1981. So that’s at least one mystery solved.
Check out Yahoo Entertainment’s recent wide-ranging interview with Rick Springfield about his career below:
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