Put Up or Shut Up! An Open Letter to Steve Perry

18Nov09

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Hey! Steve Perry!

Yeah, I’m talking to YOU, buster.

Listen, I’ve been doing some checking and you seem like a good egg:

Warm…

Goofy…

And from my own “I’m married, not dead” perspective, nummy like massa sovada!

Crinkles! The eyes of a man who knows how to laugh!

I’ll assume you’re also a magnificent human mess just like everyone else — but we’ll stick with warm, goofy and nummy for now.

So this is gonna hurt but…  baby, we need to talk.

Well… I guess I need to talk. You just need to listen.

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For a very long time you recorded and toured and ran yourself ragged…

  Steve Perry Picture #31 Steve Perry Picture #03

…and made a lot of people really happy. But it wasn’t making YOU happy (which I guess is sort of important) and you were fried:

So you retired.

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And then… you came back! Sweet!

And, might I add, DAMN!

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Aaaaand… then some other crap happened soooooo… you retired again.

But ok, that whole thing sucked, I can understand why you’d throw up your hands. And maybe at some point you’ll want to record something else – you, I’m saying. Screw those other guys.

I’m being very nonchalant about this, you notice. We are cool.

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Here’s what’s NOT cool. Every once in a while, someone says something about you releasing new music. New music in 2008! New music in 2009! Oh, now wait… new music in 2010! And who keeps saying these things? Hmmm… let’s see… well, among others, YOU do!  For YEARS you’ve been saying this: I’m writing again, I’ve got some sketches, I go into the studio every once in a while, I’ve been thinking about, I can’t decide, I think I’ll think about thinking about it…

Stephen. My friend. I have to assume that you know how important your voice is, to so many people. The response is not just “Oh, that’s nice.” It’s emotional. It’s visceral. It’s sexual.

It’s medical! Studies prove that only the very strongest opioids trigger the same endorphine release as listening to Still They Ride live at Budokan, 1983, recently declared “Best Vocal Performance of Anything, Ever” at the UN General Assembly plenary session on Music for Peace and Development.

But, see, the maddening thing is that you DO sing… anyone with internet access knows THAT… you’re just not sharing, dammit! There you are, storing up for yourself this treasure upon the earth, and every once in a while saying that you’re thinking about singing for us again. And then, you know, NOT singing for us. I gotta call bullsh*t on that.

As a matter of fact, I gotta call something else. If I had an attribute that made men melt and swoon (or whatever you guys do… what, howl and hit each other?) Anyway, if I kept saying “Mmm, yeah, I’ve been thinking about sharing this attribute… maybe…” and then when it came right down to it, kept NOT sharing it? Guess what they would call me? Go on, guess! You already know the answer, but I’ll say it in good old Anglo Saxon. They would call me a c*ck tease.

Now, I don’t know what the male equivalent would be but, with all due respect sir, you are one. Why? Because you know all about it. I find it hard to believe that you’ve never Googled yourself, or perused the comments on the squillion YouTube videos of you… you know, the ones covered in virtual lipstick kisses? Steve, these women… they are serious. They are in love. And you’re toying with their affections.

Even the guys want you back — from a recent article on Cherrybomb:

“Is it just Cherrybomb’s obsession with one of the greatest bands of the 80’s, or does Steve Perry not understand his importance in the world of rock and roll? I’m completely f***ing baffled by Perry’s ability to resist his own greatness.”

Every time you drop a hint we get all worked up. And I’ll be honest — it almost seems like you’re having fun. Example: one of the Q&As on Fan Asylum asked whether you were ever going to release “Always” (w/ Nuno Bettencourt). And you said “I’ve thought about it…. ‘Always’ is a beautiful song.”

Baby, why you gotta treat me so mean?

And here you are at the U2 show:

Now that’s just unfair! Look at you, all trim and relaxed, that long graceful neck, sexy motorcycle boots, even THE NECKLACE. And do I see some classy silver threads in THE HAIR? And the worst part is that little half smile — you look like the cat that ate the master tapes. You are so clearly up to something!

Or maybe you just want us to think you’re up to something…

You’re trying to kill me, aren’t you? You’re trying to kill me right where I stand.

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Now, I know full well it isn’t that easy. Record companies suck, and you have to sign away your left nut if you want any control at all… except that you don’t, not anymore! If you DO want to sing, here is my recommendation for retaining your sanity: Establish your independence.

Record an R&B covers thing — whatever you like (as long as you do Jackie Wilson’s “It’s So Fine” because that’s totally hot.) Or completely new arrangements of the old songbook. Those other guys are doing their tribute thing if anyone wants to hear that, but good songs mature, they get moody, they start looking for new neural pathways… you know they do.

Either one would be a sure bet for sales; given your retiring nature, the fact that you’ve released anything would be big news. Now here’s the beauty part: you release it yourself, on this thing called the Internet. All downloads, very little overhead, you keep the cash. You DO NOT TOUR — anyone who tells you to tour does not love you. End of discussion.

No, it’s not a big worldwide splash, and yes, some a**holes decide to pan it because your voice has changed since you were a pup. But your faithful fans love it, and you gather about you a cozy little cult following.

Once you’ve established this setup, you can record and release whatever you want. You can perform when and where you feel like it. You can even perform online – Daryl Hall is doing it, without ever leaving the damn house!

You have total control, so you proceed with your current boundaries: “If I’m wearing a cool mafioso suit, you may take my picture. If I’m wearing scruddy sweats, get lost. If I happen to be with someone whose precise relationship to myself you know I am not eager to discuss… don’t be a jerk. Please. Thank you.”

Everyone respects these boundaries, partly because of your niche-y awesomeness, but mostly because they know that if they don’t, 50 women wearing “Mrs. Steve Perry” t-shirts will sweep in and make with the pummeling.

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Once you see that this works, you call me up: “Deb, you were right — this rocks.”

I do not say I told you so.

I do, however, just happen to mention that I make kickass Portuguese Sweetbread and the hands-down best cup of coffee you will ever have. (I’m not bragging, these are just facts).

You get a wild idea: “Hey, lemme fly you out here, we’ll hang around in scruddy sweats, watch baseball, and eat sweetbread until we bust a gut.” Awesome!

You quickly realize what a truly gifted writer I am and hire me to ghostwrite your autobiography. We have a total blast, and I am discretion itself because screw your privacy, I have children! You think I want all the crazies out on my lawn?

The book is a massive success and we both become as rich as Croesus.

OK, you become as rich as Croesus. I become as rich as you.

Anyway, everyone lives happily ever after.

See? No big whoop.

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And we have arrived at The Bottom Line, to wit:

We miss you, Stevie.

We will leave you alone if that’s what you want.

But if that IS what you want then STOP MESSING WITH US!

If you don’t want to sing, just tell us so our broken hearts can mend (sniff, sniff…)

If you DO want to sing, then SING, DAMMIT!

But baby please… don’t tease.

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Disclaimer

It should come as no surprise that I am not connected with Steve Perry or “those other guys” in any way. All opinions are mine alone… and very well reasoned, if I do say so myself. And apparently I do.

I do not have the rights to any of these images, nor have I the right to order Steve Perry around. But apparently I do that too.

Nothing in this letter is said with malice or intent to harm, especially anything pertaining to any crazies who might wish to show up on my lawn. It’s a very unrewarding place, my lawn. There are much more interesting things to see in New England… I mean Outer Mongolia. Which is where I live.

As far as I know, everything I have asserted in this letter is true — oh, except for the part about the UN. But that should be true. It is Extra Specially True that a) I make kickass Portuguese Sweetbread, and b) anyone who tells Steve Perry to tour does not love him.

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