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JD Ryznar's "Oh Sherri" Essay

Here's the essay JD wrote in 2001 about Oh Sherri by Steve Perry. Listen to the podcast we devoted to the song below. And below THAT, fire up Oh Sherri while you read along with the essay. -BYR

Oh Sherri! Greatest Song Ever

By JD Ryznar

A good song includes a bucketload of soul, and assload of human truth and a guitar solo that rocks the balls off of even the most ball-stuck man. The greatest songs ever recorded possess all of these gifts weaved into a perfectly constructed composition, proving that real artistic inspiration can be packaged, shipped and become a guiding light to the masses.

Such a song is “Oh Sherri” by Sir Steve Perry – one of the greatest songs ever recorded… ever. The song is about the mystery of a love that does not die despite the girl being a bitch and the guy being a total asshole.

And so – it begins like a dream, with the most haunting synthesizer intros of recent memory. Then the keyboards drop out and a single voice calls out from the aural darkness. Sir Steve Perry, sing.

“You should have been gone! Knowing how
I made you feel…”

FUCK! That’s a brave thing to say.

“…and I should have been gone…”

Then the keyboards, and only keyboards, mind you, come back as the greatest rock build ever begins

“…after all your words of steel.”

(Can you imagine her words of steel? “Sir Steve Perry, you beaknosed, molefaced midget!”)

Bass goes boom, quickly followed by very subtle drums. This is also where we meet the background vocalists, a few reverbed Steve Perrys. The build continues:

“Oh I must have been a dreamer (must have
been a dreamer oh, oh) and I must have
been someone else (someone else) and we should
have been over (Over by now)”
Drums: “SMACK-DACK-A-LACK!”

The song kicks into high gear for the first chorus. We’re talking a pounding fucking beat, a symphony of goddamn synths, an entire choir of reverbed Steve Perrys, and HANDCLAPS, SWEET HANDCLAPS. (Or at least a very close re-creation of thereof).

“Oh Sherri! Our love! Holds on! Holds
on! Oh Sherri, Our love! Holds on! Holds On!”

Before the last remnants of the Reverbed Sir Steve Perry Choir fades into the abyss of silence, The One Steve Perry quickly returns with the first words of the next verse...

“Oh I want to let go…”

The verse comes down a notch, but not too far down. We’ve just been to a peak, and Sir Steve knows better than to drop us on our heads after we have been so powerfully serenaded by a great chorus. The instruments quickly kick back in, but with a new feature: a wise guitar, which humbly offers its opinions as Steve sings to it his bittersweet tale. Here is their dialogue:

Sir Steve Perry: “…you’ll go on hurtin’ me.”
Guitar: “Ting Tang Ting” (Translation: That
girl’s love is tough!)
SSP: “You’d be better off alone…”
Guitar: (exploding) “NEEERRRRRR!”
(Translation: No, Sir Steve Perry! Don’t say
that! She wouldn’t be better off alone!
You’re love for her is too strong! She can’t
survive without it, just as you can’t
survive without hers!)
SSP: “…if I’m not who you thought
I’d be.”

Okay, you’re not listening to the guitar, are you, Sir Steve Perry? Don’t take it’s wisdom lightly!

Sir Steve Perry sings from such an uncharted place in the heart that often his diction is overtaken by his soul, and pronunciation implodes. It’s a very impressionistic way for a singer to interpret lyrics. The properties that define vowels and consonants are thrown out the window and swept away in an uncontrollable tornado of molten emotion – The Sir Steve Perry Torcano. Listen:

“But you know that there’s a fever (Know that
there’s a fever, oh oh) Oh, but you knowbitta
no where else (No where else [no where else])?
Can’t you feel it burnin’? Oh, bearebo doe!”

The Steve Perry Torcano is in full effect during each chorus, where the lyric:

“Oh Sherri! Our love!”

Sounds more like “Oh, Sherri, aulau!” In fact, I’m not even sure what the actual lyric is. Could be “Oh, Sherri, I’m in love.” Who cares. Sir Steve makes it sound like liquid magic.

“Holds on! Holds on! Oh Sherri, Our love!
Holds on! Holds On!”

As Sir Steve catches his blessed breath…

WICKED SOLO!!!!!!

Unlike the free flowing solos of Hendrix or Halen, “Oh, Sherri’s” is structured and calculated. Nevertheless, it rocks me purple and stiff.

Somewhere in the middle of the solo, Sir Steve, overcome with inspiration, sings out:

“Oh, Sherri!”

The solo ends with valor, without going too long, and gives way to the final, impatient verse. This verse is shorter than the rest, due to the fact that Sir Steve is about to sing his tapeworm out and can’t wait to get back to the rockass fuckfest better known as the final chorus of “Oh, Sherri.”

“But I should have been gone long ago far away.”
Guitar: Ting Tang Ting
“And you shoulda been gone!”
Guitar: NEEERRRRRR.

Hold on to something, the Steve Perry Torcano is about to reach Meltdown Factor 11…

“NOW I KNOW YOUR LOVE WILL STAY!!!!!!”

GOOD FUCKING CHRIST! A MESSIAH HAS BEEN SENT FROM GOD TO RAISE THE DEAD, TURN WATER TO WINE (WHILE HE WALKS ON SAID WATER/WINE), AND SING, ALONG WITH A CHOIR OF REVERBED CLONES, THE MOST INCREDIBLE FINAL CHORUS EVER TO GRACE THE EARS OF MANKIND!!!!!!

“Oh Sherri, Our love! Holds on! Holds On!
Oh, Sherri! Our love! Holds on! Holds On!”
Drums: STICK A BRICK A STICK A BRICK A!!!!!!
“Oh (Oh) Sherri Our love (Sherri, Our love,
Sherri)! Hold On (Sherri)! Hold O-oh-ah-on!

WICKED SOLO II

Guitar: Neeerrrr! Neeerrrr!
“Hold on!”
Guitar: Neeerrrr! Neerrrr!
“Oh, Sherri!”

Sir Steve Perry is knocked out by pure passion, never to be heard from again in this, quite possibly the greatest song ever recorded.

Guitar: Neeerrr Nerrrr! Neeer
Neeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

The twilight sets in. All instruments drop out, save one, allowing us to contemplate the confused yet calculated emotional roller coaster we have just ridden. We’re left with the very same synthesizers that warmed us up ages ago, before Sir Steve Perry began to sing his beaknosed, molefaced midget heart out. Now, after Sir Steve’s final note has faded, the simple, yet awe-inspiring closing synth solo allows us to say goodbye to greatness, to move on in peace and wonder, and to make this world a better place in which to love.

Left on the Aught Garage Floor

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