Linda Perry may have been writing hits for Adele, Christina Aguilera, and Pink, but it’s been over a decade since the former 4 Non Blondes front woman has released original music that she sang herself. “The Letter” is a deeply moving song that she wrote for the soundtrack of Soleil Moon Frye’s new Hulu documentary, Kid 90. The doc also includes snippets of home movie footage featuring Perry’s wife Sara Gilbert, who’s a friend of the Punky Brewster child star and was starring in Roseanne at the time.
The solemn song begins with her humming, followed by confessional lyrics: “Here I am facing myself/Peeling away emotions I felt/Wouldn’t change a moment of my life.” Perry’s voice sounds raw and conveys a level of authenticity that fans first fell for when she belted the 1992 hit “What’s Up”. It feels especially revealing to hear her voice now, nearly 30 years later, as its matured, making each subsequent line feel that much more vulnerable: “I’m holding on/Watching my past/The ones that made it/And the ones that couldn’t last/It’s all right here/I wrote it to myself.”
“I originally just had it as humming,” she tells Rolling Stone. “When Soleil picked that track as the one she wanted to turn into a full song, it just natural that I would do it because I had a personal relationship to [it], and it felt really close to me.”
The haunting track feels like it transcends the bounds of the doc for which it was crafted, creating a cathartic soundscape that could express what many have felt while isolated during the Covid pandemic or as they question their life choices. Perry also seems to see it as a turning point for herself creatively, even appearing in the video that’s directed by Don Hardy, which shows her in one of her signature hats, a blue mask painted across her face, while images from the film are projected over her body.
“I was extremely nervous doing it,” she added. “It was one of the reasons I left the business. As an artist, it was very hard for me to take criticism because it hurt too much.”
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