A Rethink on “I’ll Cover You”

warning: Journey fangirl ramblings follow. You’ve been warned.

Lately I’ve been re-listening to a lot of my CD collection, great stuff that I’ve put away and forgotten about — there is such a thing as having *too* much great music. Old U2, early REM, the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, the Indigo Girls, Tracy Chapman — you name it, I’ve probably got it, somewhere. Anyway, Neal Schon’s “Late Nite” turned up, and made it into the car CD player, then graduated into the home stereo, then finally shoved in my iMac & ripped into my iTunes, where it’s been in constant rotation ever since.

This was the first post-Journey solo Neal put out, and I’d forgotten just how bloody awesome it tends to be, even with Neal singing; his voice is rough, but it can fit into the right type of song. I’d also stumbled across the video for “I’ll Cover You” on YouTube (video?!?), and re-hearing / seeing the song…the lyrics caught me, in a way that they didn’t when I first heard the song back in the early 90s:

(lyric link here)

Now the -ites tend to go melodramatically mushy-eyed over Steve Perry’s “Anyway” (“omg hes so classy & its so sad, that apolgy he made on teh album sqwwweeee!!!111!!”). However — in listening to Neal’s ICY — I keep wondering who Neal’s singing to.

Jonathan? If memory’s right, Jonathan was fairly newly married around this time, and starting up with Bad English and other solo projects. The tone of ICY doesn’t seem directed at one who’s life is going that good. Rather, ICY is offering a hand & help to someone, someone who seems desperate or in danger or in NEED of that hand…

…Steve Perry?

We know from many interviews with Perry that he dropped out of Journey due to burn-out & “exhaustion”. And “Behind the Music/I never felt part of the band” aside, Steve did sing at Neal’s 1980s wedding, just after the ROR tour finished up — which Steve did not seem to do for Jonathan’s wedding (I’m drawing on Force newsletters for this info). So relations between Neal & Steve would’ve had to have been at least friendly (would you want someone you hated singing at your wedding? Would you sing at the wedding of someone you hated? I don’t think so).

And honestly, look at the situation — all the stated bullshit with Sony aside, it took Perry over 10 years to get an album out post-Journey. Neither Neal nor Jonathan nor any other member of Journey had that problem; Neal, Jonathan, & Steve Smith, in particular, were extremely prolific, judging from my own incomplete CD collection. Forget the “retirement” argument; remember, Steve’s own words (on the GH reissue and in Force interviews at the time) say that he was working on “Against The Wall”, hardly the actions of someone who’s “retired”. That argues for circumstances and a life-situation out of the norm; I don’t buy the typical -ite bullshit that his mom’s death & breakup with Sherry affected him that badly, no one … repeat, no one… buries himself in the sand for over 10 years over such things, not unless they’re the world’s biggest loser.

Now this isn’t meant to get into an argument or flamewar over Steve Perry. Rather, turn back to Neal’s song, ICY.

Neal’s taken a lot of flak in fandom for being who he is: blunt, outspoken, and tactless (though I wonder how much of that tactlessness is just how he deals with fans — fans aren’t the best-behaved or most rational people in the world; Neal’s long experience has probably taught him that a sledgehammer is the only way to get some things through to us). And yet, Neal’s the one who’s continued on with Journey, who’s kept his friendships / partnerships with the bandmembers, to the point of having worked with all of them, on-and-off, in Journey and out, ever since the ROR tour ended. His continuing partnership with Jonathan, in particular, speaks of a man who values friends and doesn’t lightly put someone aside; he’s one of Journey’s founding members, and has kept it going with a tenacity that overshadows Perry’s talk of “cracking the stone” in “Behind The Music”.

So, with that in mind, was ICY Neal’s open-hand apology to Steve? An honest offer of help, the only way Neal knew how to make it or the only way that Steve might listen to it? Or is there another interpretation that might apply, and if so, what?

Discuss! 😀

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