Millennial hearts all over America melted this week when original Blue’s Clues host Steve Burns popped up on Twitter with a message to fans of the show in honor of its 25th anniversary — but did you also know Burns is a musician who has collaborated with the likes of Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips?
“I mean, we started out with clues,” Burns said in the new video. “And now it’s what? Student loans, and jobs, and families. And some of it has been kind of hard, you know? I guess I just wanted to say, that after all these years, I never forgot you, ever. And I’m super glad we’re still friends. You look great by the way. Whatever it is you’re doing, it’s working.”
— Nick Jr. (@nickjr) September 7, 2021
Burns left Blue’s Clues in 2002 after six years and 100 episodes. Little explanation was given at the time. “We didn’t see each other for like, a really long time,” Burns says in the video. “I realize that was kind of abrupt.”
All sorts of urban legends spread about his departure, including ones stating that he died in a car accident or from a heroin overdose. The truth is much more mundane. “Everyone wants there to be a dramatic answer and there’s not,” he said in 2017. “‘I was just getting older and I kind of occupied this weird older brother space on that show. Like I was sort of an adult, but not really. It just really felt like a good, comfortable time to go.”
One of the first projects he took on after leaving the show was the indie rock album Songs for Dustmites, which was produced by frequent Flaming Lips collaborator Dave Fridmann along with Ed Buller. Flaming Lips guitarist Steven Drozd is one of the main musicians on the album, playing keyboards, drums, guitars, bass, piano, and Hammond organ. Check out their song “Henry Krinkle’s Lament,” which truly sounds like a great lost Flaming Lips song.
The album didn’t generate a lot of attention, but the critics were impressed. “Given the Flaming Lips’ penchant for animal costumes and general childlike weirdness, it’s no shock that these guys chose to record with Burns,” reads a review in Pitchfork. “The surprise here is that, rather than the update of Fred Rogers’ ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ many indie snobs might have been expecting, Songs for Dustmites manages to remain true to Burns’ legacy as a nice-guy kid’s show host despite having made an unabashedly adult record that deals with familiar themes of love and loss.”
Seven years later, Burns formed the band Steve Burns and the Struggle with Drozd and Ryan Smith of A Million Billion. He also composed the theme song for Young Shelton. All of these projects received a fraction of the attention he got for a quick Twitter video as his Blue’s Clues persona, which is a shame since he’s got real talent.