In a new Rolling Stone feature, Steve Perry reveals which five songs inspired him most as a young singer. The ex-Journey frontman, who recently released his first new solo album in decades, Traces, admits that one of his choices — Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” — almost caused him to have an unpleasant accident when he first heard it.
“The first time it came on the radio, I nearly pulled my car over and pooped my pants,” Perry tells the magazine. “Nobody had ever heard that kind of a song, with those kind of rhythms, with that kind of songwriting, with those kind of harmonies, those kind of chord changes, that arrangement.”
Perry, who possesses arguably one of the most soulful voices in rock, also chose soul legend Sam Cooke’s 1961 classic “Cupid” as one of the tunes that inspired him. He recalls first hearing the song on the radio when he was about 10 years old.
“I was just captivated with every single thing that I was hearing,” he explains. “It was tunnel vision, and tunnel listening, on that song.”
Also on the list are The Flamingos’ 1959 doo-wop hit “I Only Have Eyes for You,” The Drifters’ 1964 smash “Under the Boardwalk” and The Beach Boys’ 1963 gem “In My Room.”
Perry says that when he heard “I Only Have Eyes for You” as a kid, “it was like another landscape of sound to me,” while noting that “it still evokes emotions when you hear it on the radio.”
As for “Under the Boardwalk,” Steve says the song makes you feel like “[y]ou’re actually smelling hot dogs and French fries. That’s the beauty of music, the magic of music.”
Lastly, Perry maintains that “In My Room” “was an anthem to my teenage isolation.”