'Late, Late at Night,' by Rick Springfield

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The album is complete but I am concerned about something. I'm giving serious thought to releasing the new records under a "band" name, as I am afraid of all the baggage that goes along with "Rick Springfield." I'm gun shy about my own name (or at least, Pete Watson's version of my own name) after all the negative crap from the 70's. Joe and RCA talk me into keeping the RS moniker on the album, but I am adamant that I will not have another "beauty" shot of me on the front cover. Instead, I tell them that I am dressing my dog up in a shirt and tie (thank you Yan the snappy dresser), putting him on the cover and calling the record Working Class Dog. RCA thinks I'm joking. I am soon to be the new face on a national TV show that is fast becoming a summer phenomenon and I want my dog on the cover??? I am determined to not be swayed this time. I'll mock up a cover and show them what I mean.

I measure Ronnie's neck – 18 inches around – and head off to a Big and Tall men's store to get him a shirt. The conversation goes something like this:

Me: "I'd like a white dress shirt with an 18-inch neck please."

SalesGuy: " Certainly. And what length sleeves are we talking here?"

Me: "It doesn't matter."

Sales guy: "Well, just give me a ballpark number. Is he a 30 inch sleeve – a 35?" I know he's not going to let up.

Me: "12."

SalesGuy: "12?... 12 what?"

Me: "12 inches. His arm length is 12 inches" We stare at each other for a moment or two. Somewhere in the distance a lonely cricket chirps and a train whistle blows.

SalesGuy: "How 'bout a short-sleeved shirt then?"

Me: "Sounds good."

More to their credit, when I show RCA the mocked-up cover, they get the idea and we are off and running. We do a hilarious photo session with my patient dog, dressed for hours in the shirt and tie. I tempt and reward him with dog cookies and at the last minute I shove a black and white photo of me in his shirt pocket as a kind of joke to the RCA art department who are insisting, still, that I be on the cover.

In the photo we finally choose, he's smiling broadly and looks like he's having a blast. But now the label is having concerns about the album as a whole. Although everyone can sense disco is wearing out its welcome (thank the Gods of music), as are the big syrupy ballads, no one can guess that they will both shortly be replaced on the radio waves by rock and roll. They are hesitating to release Working Class Dog, thinking it will fall on deaf ears. I start getting anxious. I know the album is good, but honestly, I just don't want all our hard work wasted again.

Another week goes by and RCA pushes the album's release to the following month. This happens no less than three times. I am freaking out. Thank God I at least have the TV thing starting up soon. I will have a pretty decent and regular income for the first time in my life from General Hospital, so that eases some of the frustration I am feeling about the record. RCA finally sets a release date for WCD and assures me they will keep to it. I am relieved, excited and truly happy.

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