The rock legend is opening up to PEOPLE about his mother's death and the new song he wrote to commemorate her

By Hanna Flanagan
May 10, 2019 11:45 AM
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Grammy award-winning rocker Rick Springfield is honoring his late mother, Eileen Springthorpe, with a new single called “Irreplaceable,” out just in time for Mother’s Day.

The song is part of Springfield’s seventeenth studio album, Orchestrating My Life, which dropped April 26. Springfield, 69, told PEOPLE that writing “Irreplaceable” was a “way to grieve” the loss of his mother (who died in December 2016) and celebrate her “amazing life.”

“My mum died at 96 sitting in her backyard in the morning sun facing the blue spruce tree we used to call ‘Dad’s tree,” Springfield says. “She walked the walk and was good to everyone (except to me when I was 16 years old because I was a jerk back then). I never met anyone like her.”

The Australian-American singer bares his soul with lyrics like “Yeah I miss you most of these days/At moon-rising, sundowning/But the pain comes in these waves/And tonight I’m drowning“ and shares family photos in the music video, premiering exclusively above.

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Rick Springfield
| Credit: Marina Chavez

“It was meaningful to me to represent my life with her in the video so I gathered a bunch of photos and wanted them interspersed through it,” Springfield says.

Along with “Irreplaceable” and a tribute to Springfield’s late father called “My Father’s Chair”, Orchestrating My Life also features new renditions of Springfield’s classic hits — everything from “Jessie’s Girl” and “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” to “Love Somebody” and “Human Touch.”

Springfield told Billboard last month that the album, which is described as a “career-defining re-visitation of a lifetime of hits”, came into fruition after he was invited to play six weeks of orchestral concerts in Germany last year. He was skeptical of the project at first, but said the experience ended up being “pretty great.”

“We had great musicians and great arrangements (by conductor Wolf Kerschek), so it was pretty painless, and we decided to do a record of it,” Springfield told the outlet.

He also opened up about the two songs he wrote for his parents, saying, “”My Father’s Chair’ has been recited at services and even chiseled on gravestones. And when my mom died…You can’t just sit down and say, ‘All right, I’m gonna write a song about my mom now.’ It’s just got to come, so I had to sit until I had an idea that echoed what she meant to me, and I hope (‘Irreplaceable’) did that for her. I really like the arrangement on it; I did a lot of stuff at home in my studio but they really touched it up nicely with some strings and let it be what it is.”

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Rick Springfield
| Credit: Courtesy Rick Springfield

The last time the singer got candid about his personal life was in 2018 when he opened up about his longtime battle with depression, which the singer told PEOPLE started when he hit puberty.

“I suddenly started feeling really insignificant and useless and unpopular. It was just something that was stirred in me that I could never really put my finger on. I ended up staying home from school because I couldn’t face it,” he said. “Being alive’s a struggle, honestly. I’m happy I’m alive when I’m happy I’m alive.”

The powerful interview was the second time Springfield talked publicly about his depression. In his 2011 autobiography, Late, Late at Night, Springfield wrote that he attempted suicide when he was 17. He said he shared his story in hopes it would help others.

“I want them to have hope … and know that the moment will pass,” the 68-year-old singer told ABC News’ Paula Faris. “I’m an example of the moment passing, because I’ve been there a couple of times, and haven’t … for want of a better phrase, pulled the trigger.”