Don’t Stop Believin’, Man!

Chad Orzel, who knows of my predilections, has pointed me in the direction of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Journey, which offers an album-by-album retrospective of the most radio-persistent rock band from the 80s. It’s not a bad overview; I don’t think any over the age of 25 really needs a recap of the Escape/Frontiers era of Journey, but most people are clueless about the band pre- and post- Steve Perry , and this is a useful way to learn a little about those eras.

In the circles I run in, Journey is looked on with something less than regard, which means that the band’s cultural persistence irritates and terrifies most people I know. I remember ten years ago, when the Escape-era line-up reteamed for the Trial By Fire, Ted Rall declared that the reunion album would debut to massive indifference, so I bet him a fiver that the album would enter the charts in top five. In fact, it debuted at #3, and Ted still owes me $5. Look, people like Journey. It’s like the multivitamin of rock: It’s got the rockers for the boys, the ballads for the girls, Neal Schon’s technically impressive fret work, Steve Perry’s swoopingly expressive voice, Jonathan Cain’s major-chord bell ringing keyboards, Steve Smith’s thundering drums, and whatever the hell it was Ross Valory brought to the party (mostly, a droopy ‘stache). Maybe it’s not in the best taste, but name a multivitamin that tastes good. No, Flintstones don’t count. So chalky.

The other thing, which is what I told Ted at the time, is that for the vast majority of Suburban Americans between the age of 14 and 24 in the early 80s, when it was time to make out and you put Escape on the turntable, you were automatically spotted two bases. Honestly, if you didn’t have a hand under a bra or massaging a button fly by the end of “Who’s Crying Now,” Steve Perry would stop what he was doing, fly to your house and then beat the crap out of you for blowing a sure thing. God forbid you actually flipped the LP, because then, baby, you were going home. There’s an entire generation of white 22-to-25-year olds walking around today whose moment of conception is largely coincident to the second chorus of “Open Arms.” These people will be driving along with their moms, that song will come on that radio, their moms will get a small, wistful smile, and these people will spend the next three minutes, nineteen seconds uncontrollably shuddering.

Good times, good times.

Anyway, that’s why all you snobs will never be rid of Journey; too many other people got lucky with Steve Perry yodeling in the background. Deal with it. It could have been worse. There’s a whole bunch of 15-to-20-year-olds whose mothers were inseminated to Warrant. No amount of therapy will ever make that right.

To finish up, allow me to indulge in my own Journey-geek dorkiness by once again hauling to my own techno remix of “Don’t Stop Believin’,” named, appropriately, “Don’t Stop.” If you’ve not already subjected yourself to it, I assure you it’s pretty much as terrifying as you might imagine. Enjoy!

80 thoughts on “Don’t Stop Believin’, Man!

  1. Just a few months ago, one of my greatest adult memories — behind such truly life-defining events such as my wedding and the birth of my son — occurred at a bar a friend of mine and I were visiting just to have a couple drinks. At one point, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” came on, and I kid you not, everyone in the bar was singing along by the end of the second verse. There were a couple women in their mid 20s dancing on the tables. If I was still single, I would’ve been trying to pick up one of those women in a heartbeat.

    Yeah, Journey has a certain primordial power that cannot be denied. There’s no point trying to resist it.

  2. When I was hanging with the Draft Clark folks shortly after the draft had achieved success, there was much eye-rolling about Clark lobbying for “Don’t Stop Believin’” to be his campaign theme song. I recall dissenting from the group consensus in support of the song, a bit timidly though.

    The remix is fun.

  3. every time journey played in fresno, they would donate $$$ to valley children’s hospital. gotta respect that.

    btw, steve perry is from hanford, in fresno county. yet another reason to connect w/ the balladeer.

  4. But could Journey ever do the “simultaneous headbang” like Warrant could? I think not!

  5. I would rather listen to Journey over Reo Speedwagon or Air Supply, so keep the Journey comin’!!

  6. And they had their own video game, so they had that going for them.

    My wife hates Journey, so I imagine I would be stuck in the, uh, batting cage if I were to play anything by them. ;)

  7. Robert Daeley, your wife may be an emotionless robot automaton from the future. I’m sorry to be the one to have to break this to you. Flee!

  8. “There’s an entire generation of white 22-to-25-year olds walking around today whose moment of conception is largely coincident to the second chorus of “Open Arms.””

    Oh dear GOD!

    So that’s why I have a younger brother.

    No wonder I never liked that song.

  9. Journey is one of those groups who became “uncool” to like when they were tagged with the “corporate rock” label. But everyone knows the words to their songs. Well…, everyone over the age of 35.

  10. You know, I always liked the cover art.

    HATED THE MUSIC!!!

    Yes, I am the anti-christ. No, more likely it was because I saw people getting laid to music that made me “wilt.” Had it been Depeche Mode or The Cure then I coulda gotten my sensitive on and had my way.

    I was not punk rock. I was synth-pop. Kraftwerk, Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Division and New Order were my makeout music.

    i feel so… old…

    P.S. The remix is funny. Garageband?

  11. Also, I treid last year to find a Journey t-shirt for my friend Jossy. There was a time when people were wiping their asses with them and cleaning out the cat box afterwards.

    Now? Ha! Try to find one for under $100!!! Curses!

  12. I’ve got one. From the “Raised on Radio” tour.

    Remix: No Garageband. Don’t like it. I used Acid Pro.

  13. Well, I like both, so there you are.

    However, I do hope I’m not going to see people using this threat to vent about Ted Rall. He’s really incidental to what’s really important in this thread, which is that Journey totally rawks.

  14. Jesus Christ! All this time I thought you were talking about this Ted Rall! Damn, I’m an idiot. I gotta learn to read these posts more closely for their intricacies.

    I should have figured that this liberal, grease-monkey crowd would love Ted Rall the cartoonist!

  15. Well, it is that Ted Rall. He’s a friend of mine. He used to make cartoons for a humor area I editing. One of my star contributors. My other star contributor: James Lileks. Who is also a friend of mine. Go figure.

  16. Ted Rall? ugh. So every time I put cash in the kettle it might be used to tip a pint of bitter with Ted Rall? I’m not sure I could live with that.

  17. Man, Journey. Good times.

    My favorite “Don’t Stop Believin’” moment is the episode of The Family Guy where Peter and his friends starting singing it karaoke. All over town, people stop what they’re doing (including carrying a casket from a church) and run to the bar.

    My wife has loved them since infancy, practically, and I had to go along when we got together. Though it became a matter of “Oh, those guys wrote that song, too?” I’d liked them all along and never known it…

    We last saw them at Conseco Field House in Indianapolis three years ago, just after we were married. They headlined an 80s rock combo mega-ticket with Styx and REO Speedwagon. The crowd cheered for those two, but 20K people went bananas when Journey came onstage. And this was with Steve Augieri.

    My wife will get a kick out of the remix.

  18. And the award for Best Use of a Journey Song in a Motion Picture goes to…

    Heavy Metal: The Movie

    the RoR tour was the first concert I camped out overnight for tickets for…

    I think it’s funny on American Idol when some poor schlep tries one of the Escape or Frontiers classics and Randy Jackson just gives them a look that ought to make them quake in their boots – it almost withers them…

  19. critter42:

    Ha! I made my wife, the super Journey fan, watch Heavy Metal with me once, using the Journey inclusion as bait. We got exactly as far as “Open Arms,” and no further. To this day, she calls that movie “cartoon boobies.”

    And she can’t understand why, of all songs, “Open Arms” was the song of choice from Journey for a movie called Heavy Metal. But then again, they also featured a Donald Fagen song. So, not all hard rockin’ all the time.

  20. I’ll also admit that I’m a bit of a purist and no matter how my wife raves over how the new guy sounds, Journey-Perry+Augeri=NotJourney. My wife said “you can’t tell the difference” – nope, sorry on that one.

    As a matter of fact, the only lead singer replacement I’ve ever been able to deal with was “Ripper” Owens taking over for Rob Halford in Judas Priest (who has now reclaimed his rightful place in front of that band ;) ). Steve Augeri, Sammy Hagar, Gary Cherone, etc – none have lived up to expectations…

  21. As someone who actually owned a vinyl copy of Escape during the 80′s, I have just three words to say:

    Damn! Damn! DAMN!

    Oh, and that remix is pretty cool…I may spin it next time I DJ at The Cutlass Club and see what the reaction is. With your permission, of course, John…

  22. Well, presuming that the snippet of “Don’t Stop Believin’” that I used is covered under fair use, Erbo, I don’t have a problem with it.

  23. I will state that I love Ted Rall. “Real Americans Admit: The Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done!” is an amazing piece of work.

    I still hate Journey, which is anathema in a state like Maine, where rap music was unheard of until about 5 years ago. It is still largely a classic rock and country state, which means about 95% of the population of 18-20 year olds were born from gropings to the tune of “open arms.”

  24. Denis:

    While I give you that the low points of that movie scrape the nether realms, there are other parts of it that are just outstanding – B-17, Richard Corben’s Den, and of course Taarna. I still love this movie! That it has a properly-used Journey song is just icing on the cake :)

  25. Dave: Phil taking over for Peter didn’t hurt Genesis any; A Trick of the Tail is definitely one of their better albums. They didn’t really switch out of progressive and into a “pop” direction until Abacab. Ray Wilson taking over for Phil, on the other hand…while Calling All Stations was more of a progressive album, I think it was just too much for most fans to handle at that point.

    And, if you want to talk lead-singer replacements, try Steve Hogarth taking over for Fish as Marillion frontman…their direction didn’t change too much as a result, and Brave was one of the best albums the group ever did, comparable to Clutching At Straws in the Fish era. So I think that worked.

  26. Dave:
    Collins wasn’t an outsider – he was with the band for several years before Gabriel left, and just stepped up – so he wasn’t a complete replacement. That being said, it’s been 20 effin years and I still can’t get rid of the Illegal Alien earworm “It’s no fun/being and Illegal Alien…” AAARRGGHH! Make it stop! :).

    In any event I really don’t like Genesis a whole lot anyway – I much prefer the various solo projects to the Genesis tunes

  27. I used to practice drums to Journey as part of my warmup. Keeping the tempo while doing that cymbal-tom-floor tom fill was usually enough to wak me up. Also, every girl I knew in high school had the greatest hits albums from Journey and The Steve Miller Band.

    …hey, now there’s a hell of a mashup idea…

  28. “Well, it is that Ted Rall. He’s a friend of mine. He used to make cartoons for a humor area I editing. One of my star contributors. My other star contributor: James Lileks. Who is also a friend of mine.”
    Wow, that would be an awkward get-together.

  29. …and now, thanks to the Idiot’s Guide, I know that Ross Valory played bass for the Steve Miller Band. That’s what he must’ve brought to the band. Other than the ‘stache.

  30. The consensus in the thread seems to be Journey > REO Speedwagon.

    Although in REO Speedwagon’s defense, they did have an album called You Can Tune a Piano But You Can’t Tuna Fish.

  31. Hey – hey!

    Snobbery is no good. I’ve still got some Journey vinyl tucked away somewhere.

    And for my money nothing ever worked as good as Air Supply, but whatever floats your boat is cool with me.

  32. Erbo:

    A Trick of the Tail is certainly one of their better efforts, and an album that’s in constant rotation on my iPod. But, especially given his solo turns, I think Phil definitely helped turn the band more toward the Invisible Touch/We Can’t Dance line of schmaltzy pop. Gotta get into the deep cuts of most of the 80s albums, in fact, to get a taste of old-school progressive stuff.

    But yeah, I knew Collins was promoted from within… but he was still a replacement. Didn’t quite have the flair or range that Gabriel did. I don’t see Phil, though he performed the songs enough, spearheading something like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway.

  33. I was considering leaving a comment, because I always liked Journey and still watch Heavy Metal occasionally. I’ve got the Journey DVD with Steve Augeri and was quite impressed by his imitation of Perry’s voice. Nothing important enough to really get me to post. Then I read Erbo’s comment…

    Erbo: You seem like an intelligent listener. But how can you possibly say that Marillion’s direction did not change much as a result of Fish leaving????? They sound like a completely different band! In fact Fish’s solo stuff sound’s more like old Marillion than post-Fish Marillion does!

    Oh, and speaking of conception songs. Fish has a page at his official site that lists all the “Kayleigh”‘s that have visited.
    http://www.the-company.com/kayleigh.htm

  34. If Steve Perry could beat the crap out of you, you had no business being anywhere near a girl because you were either 8 years old or a complete wuss.

    That being said, it is exceedingly difficult not to (try to) sing along when a Journey song comes on the radio.

  35. There’s a whole bunch of 15-to-20-year-olds whose mothers were inseminated to Warrant. No amount of therapy will ever make that right.

    But John – Cherry Pie is such a classy album…

  36. Adam Rakunas

    Also, every girl I knew in high school had the greatest hits albums from Journey and The Steve Miller Band.

    Well, generally speaking, I clearly don’t belong in this conversation. But then you go a head and mention a band used to really kick back in the days before “Fly Like an Eagle”; When it was the Steve Miller Blues Band and he was introduced on stage as Stevie “Guitar” Miller and he was billed as being from Texas, which I don’t think is entirely accurate. But hell, it was good for a blues guy to be from Texas back then. Still is.

    I know that Ross Valory played bass for the Steve Miller Band. That’s what he must’ve brought to the band.

    The Steve Miller Band I listened too had the amazing and talented Lonnie Turner on bass. Not to mention Mr Cool, Boz Scaggs, the vastly under rated guitarist “Curly” Cooke , and Ben Sidran on the ivories. That was the Steve Miller Band I listened to and saw live on numberous occasions, once hitchhiking from California to New York City to see them play on my Birthday at the (now de-funked) Academy of Music.

    Albums like Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Number 5, and Your Saving Grace.

    And I guess, to some extent, I’ still a Space Cowboy….

  37. CoolBlue:

    “And I guess, to some extent, I’ still a Space Cowboy….”

    Yes, but are you the ganster of love? Also, do some people call you Maurice?

  38. “Erbo: You seem like an intelligent listener. But how can you possibly say that Marillion’s direction did not change much as a result of Fish leaving????? They sound like a completely different band! In fact Fish’s solo stuff sound’s more like old Marillion than post-Fish Marillion does!”

    AMEN. In fact, later-day Marillion sounds a bit like Journey, to bring things full circle: “Hooks In You” would be Exibit A.

  39. God. “Hooks in You” was horrible. Nothing in the Journey canon deserves to be compared to that.

  40. When I was in seventh grade, I had thrown away my burgeoning encroachment into the popular clique by refusing to vote for the cute guy whose class president stump speech was “I’m so-and-so. I’m running for president, so vote for me!”
    I gained a bit of cache later that year, though, during the school talent show. Long known for my piano skills, I sat down at the keyboards, rolled up my sleeves and launched into… “Separate Ways.”

    That’s right. “Separate Ways.” On a piano. No vocals. And the crowd went freakin’ nuts!

    I guess as a scared-of-boys 7th grader, that was my 2-base upgrade equivalent.

  41. I assume you’ve all seen the Separate Ways music video. Best video ever.

    For some values of “best”.

    You know, I’m 22 to 25, and my mom likes Journey… OH GOD.

  42. I find it interesting to skim through the comments and see that no one seems to have an opinion on the pre-Steve Perry era, which lasted all of three albums. Those first three albums, btw, were musically the best of anything the band did after Steve Perry joined, but they were, each one, unique and different unto themselves. Up till the time Perry joined–management brought him in, btw, to beef up concert attendance (I saw Journey before Perry, opening up for Jethro Tull, and they were very fine, very fine)–you could not have predicted what the next album would be like based on the one before.

    Which is very much symptomatic of the era of repeat repeat repeat. I stopped buying Journey albums when I realized that, even with a new keyboard player, they were never going to sound any different. And that, I thought, was sad.

    Gregg Rolie, their original keyboardist, left Santana (which Neil Schon) when Carlos went transcendental. Not enough rock’n’roll. He left Journey when it became clear that they could–and would–continue on making essentially the same album again and again and again…like Kansas.

    I recently saw a review of a new Journey album (much to my surprise) and they were dismissed because they still did not have Steve Perry. Eras upon eras. Perry took the band in a direction that left me cold after a while and the best work Schon did during that whole period was the solo work with Jan Hammer.

    But they were–and apparently still are–dependable. You know what you’re gonna get. Again and again and again…

  43. Scalzi

    Yes, but are you the ganster of love?

    I love my wife. I do. (Honey? You hear that?)

    Been married 30 years you know.

    No gangsterin’ here… uh uh…nope

    Also, do some people call you Maurice?

    No one has ever called me Maurice and lived to tell the tale.

    I told you ’bout living in the u.s. of a.
    Don’t you know that I’m a gangster of love
    Let me tell you people that I found a new way
    And I’m tired of all this talk about love
    And the same old story with a new set of words
    About the good and the bad and the poor
    And the times keep on changin’
    So Im keepin’ on top
    Of every fat cat who walks through my door

    I’m a space cowboy
    Bet you weren’t ready for that
    I’m a space cowboy
    I’m sure you know where it’s at
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

    -Stevie “Guitar” Miller 1969

  44. A vote in favor of all three: Journey, REO, and Warrant all got me some excellent “quality time” in my heyday. Rock on, cheesy hairspray & wife-beater wearin’ dudes, rock on…

  45. There was an excellent 80s cover band (The Molly Ringwalds) we went to see a few times a while back, and whenever they launched into “Any Way You Want It” the crowd went absolutely nuts in a way they never did to any other song. I never saw the real deal, but that song totally rocks live, even when completely sober.

    As someone who has had a bit of sound training, Journey was the band which precipitated the disastrous More Reverb Than Mammoth Cave trend which culminated with Enya. *shudder*

  46. My wife and I sat here on the bed, listening to the remix, laughing and crying. Wonderful stuff! I almost expected to see Strong Bad popping out of the screen when the high-pitched warbling started, though…

  47. “They headlined an 80s rock combo mega-ticket with Styx and REO Speedwagon…”

    Now that’s a sentence sure to fill me with dread and fear for a month, at least.

    While I’m loathe to encourage John in another one of his “journeys into Journey”, I have to say that, of all of their contemporaries, Journey refined a sort of perfect end to the stadium sound. Which means that any Journey song, especially from the Perry era, sounded best coming from a suspended bank of speakers the size of two strip malls, refracted around a sun-baked bowl packed with humans in t-shirts and tube tops, and slowly dissipated into the open air over the grounds of an annual summer exposition or fairground.

    In my mind, whenever I hear “Wheel In The Sky” or “Don’t Stop Believing”, it’s thickly processed with reverb, and the ambient sounds of the Canadian National Exhibition grounds.

  48. Journey was instrumental in me and my wife getting together. I was a security guard (no much of either I sat at front after 8pm at night signing people in) in her dorm at college. I was making rounds, I wanted by her room the door was open she was dancing to “Open Arms” I said “Hey nice Music”…she had a cute ass I couldn’t help myself. That was 1992, 10 years later (we were friends for a while, I had crap in my life I had to get over we went seperate ways for a while, but never lost touch) we got married.

  49. I took the midnight train going anywhere and wound up with three kids and a mortgage. Thank you Steve Perry!

  50. On the replacement value of a band following the change, all I can say is AC/DC. They made it work.

  51. Sorry, contray to popular opinion VH was better after Diamond Dave was given the boot…Hagar was a much better front man. The band’s real musical talents actually came out, they stopped being a vehicle to dribe Dave’s ego around.

  52. Haplo Peart

    The band’s real musical talents actually came out, they stopped being a vehicle to dribe Dave’s ego around.

    I don’t know nothin about the talents of Van Halen, but didn’t David Lee Roth become a NYC EMT or something?

    There’s a job that’ll knock you down a few notches.

  53. Wow, I’m now having a great flashback to the early 80′s. Sammy Hagar, big bonus to VH. Good vocals, good guitar chops, Tae Kwon Do? not quite. Saw DLR on the tube a few weeks back with his bluegrass version of “Jump” – that took a few hours to get the pucker out of my hiney. Yes, he is an EMT in NY, and yes he still comes across as a peckerwood. Have Escape, Frontiers, Captured [Wheel in the Sky - waaay good], Raised on Radio, Trial by Fire. (I have a Bad English disk somewhere with Mr. Schon and Mr. Cain, shhhh, don’t tell anybody) Thanks for the flashbacks, It’s all GOOOOD!

  54. (waves) Another Journey geek over here.

    My great secret desire is that, when the YW series becomes a TV series or movie, Steve Perry will sing the theme song (Janis Ian’s already professed interest in writing it).

    (falls on knees and petitions a hopefully kindly universe to make this happen)

  55. Yet another article which reveals our hidden twin brotherhood, Scalzi. Bravo!

    I can still play all them songs on guitar, I did a few of them in cover bands. Neil Schon was a guitar hero to almost everyone who played rock in the 80′s although many will deny it now. :)

    I like Departure a lot better than Escape though, more musically interesting. Gregg Rolie, a totally different vibe from his keys. But you are 100% correct about getting spotted two bases! I sure did! :)

    \m|_ // >

  56. John, I spun “Don’t Stop” at the club last night, and I was immediately deluged with requests–for the original version, I’m sorry to report. Oh well, de gustibus non disputandum est, cha-cha-cha…

  57. I hate you all.

    It took me decades to get those earworms out of my head, and now they’re all back again. Running on continuous, infinite loop. Simultaneously.

    Somebody please kill me.

  58. “Separate Ways” can make a pretty good argument for worst rock video ever.

    A bunch of slightly-too-old guys hanging around a wharf, with the drummer air guitaring a non-existent instrument, and even an air-keyboardist… the afro on the wite guitarist, sculpted in what we’d call a Muted Garfunkle… and not trying to be funny about it.

    Watching Perry do the primal scream with that big honker only adds to the mirth. Perry is a little too into what seems like a 45 year old prostitute. He seems to be attempting to force one out of the wrecked-um on pretty much every close up, too. An active effort is made to not film the drummer much, as he is by far the uglist person on the shoot.

    Maybe the best part is Perry in close-up, looking one way, then quickly turning to face the camera…. it is only outdone when the band does it 5 at once at about the 3 minute mark.

    Don’t take my word for it… see it yourself:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwGdXZ6o2xs&search=separate%20ways

    I was also at a friend’s house in the late 80s… her brother was on the phone with his girlfriend, trying to get rid of her so he could go out with the gang. Here’s what I heard of the conversation:

    “Yes honey, I’ll see you tomorrow….. Yes, ‘Faithfully’ is our theme song. (he then sings a brief snippet to her, before hanging up the phone) I love you…. click.”

    “All right, guys… let’s go get some p*ssy.”

  59. Hi there,

    Just downloaded your techo version of Journey, and me likes! It is better than those four boppy versions by the Hitmaker.

  60. Hi, I’m The Hitmaker. Just in case you’re interested, I have an acoustic version of DSB on iTunes, with Deen Castronovo of Journey singing, which you might enjoy, even if you don’t dig the dance versions. And keep the faith–don’t let anyone persuade you that all those Journey records weren’t great! Cheers.

  61. Yeah! Journey, the band with that song in Caddyshack, the best use of pop music to a movie scene evaaar. But you know the thing is if you are a musician from say 1980 to now, the Journey thing comes and goes as you need it. If you like hard rock Journey had the keyboards to get themselves airplay, which apparently sold records. What got most Rock journalists put off by Journey was a lack of personality(CREEM), I mean they were actually respectable. My sentimentality for Journey creates a yearning for a centered, focused, group, that makes good music not just controversy. During my barband days playing Journey covers allowed me to see how well the songs go over live. There is a true art to allowing the music to breathe on its own with reserved range and power, rather than just continuous aggression to get the audience’s attention. Here is hoping the pendulum is swinging back.

  62. I like Dont stop believing.
    “Just a small town girl”
    “livin in a lonely world”
    “she took the midnight train goin anywhere.”

  63. Great article, speaking as a 39 yr old rockin female, I can tell you, Journey can STILL get you laid. Not the Augeri Journey, but the Steve Perry Journey. Skip the Open Arms and go back to Infinity, Evolution & Departure. Loved the comment about Valory’s stache, too funny haha. Peace.

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