Smile Politely

Once Again, Steve Burns is not Dead

Blue’s Clues was one of those children’s shows that was watched by a lot of people who did not fit into its targeted demographic. Though specifically designed around child development research to be the ideal television show for preschoolers, Blue’s Clues reached other, older audiences too.

Having a younger sister who fit perfectly in the intended age group, I used her as an excuse to watch the brightly colored, pseudo-animated daytime program. I didn’t realize that a lot of teenagers without preschool aged siblings, and even a lot of adults too, also watched the show until much later. Maybe it was ridiculously catchy theme song or the hilarious French-accented salt shaker – whatever it was, that show was tremendously successful for young and old.

If you caught the show at anytime from 1996 to 2002, then you’d undoubtedly remember the only human character, the green-shirted host “Steve.” Played by actor Steve Burns, the host became a pop culture icon and was once named one of TV’s “most eligible bachelors.” You may also remember that he suddenly left the show and appeared to disappear off the face of the earth. I bet you also remember some of the wild rumors circulated about why Steve left the show.

From an on-set suicide to a heroin overdose, plenty of stories circulated, and based on recent conversations, they still seem to be taken as true. Supposedly there were even clues within Blue’s Clues that prophesied his untimely departure. If you still thought that something tragic happened to the host, let me tell you that he is quite alright.

In 2003, with help from some members of The Flaming Lips along with their standby producer, Dave Fridmann, Burns released an album entitled Songs for Dustmites. It wasn’t half bad. As a 15 year old I was really into it; often recommending the disc to friends. Looking back, it’s not as a good as I initially thought, but there are some gems like the opener “Mighty Little Man.”

But after a year of positive critical feedback and a couple tours, Burns seemed to disappear. Naturally, I assumed he either killed himself on stage or died of a heroin overdose, but once again this man has proven he is neither suicidal nor an unhinged drug addict. While checking out the artists performing at the CMJ Music Marathon going on this week in New York, I stumbled upon Steve Burns and the Struggle. With a new backing band (consisting of Stephen Drozd of the Lips, among others), Burns is taking on a few CMJ-related dates. No doubt he’ll also be shopping around his new but unreleased album Deep Sea Recovery.

The tracks I’ve heard are much like his old stuff – swirling, dramatic mid-tempo songs with fantastical, but definitely not childish, content. I kind of wish there was something crazy about this guy. It would be so much better if he was in a terrible sex-punk band or played a Jared Leto-esque role in some nu metal act. Instead he’s just writing pretty decent, sincere and well balanced pop music. It’s sort of a disappointment.

I am looking forward to the new record and hope it’s released soon. I also hope it includes an awesome remix of his hit song “Mail Time.” And if you have any thoughts on this, or anything at all, just press play below and tell Steve yourself

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