What is it about Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’”?
What is it about that song that has our generation in such a craze? Maybe you’ve heard: “Don’t Stop Believin’” (hereafter referred to as DSB) is the number-one selling song of all time(!) on iTunes. All time. Number one.
It’s friggin’ Journey, for Steve Perry’s sake!
I keep hearing that its inclusion in “The Soprano’s” finale, or how the 2005 World-Series-winning White Sox made it their song, that that’s why it’s so freaking popular now. But I just can’t believe it. I think it started years before then, because I’ve seen how our generation has latched onto it like nobody’s business.
It makes sense. Released in 1981, right at the buttcrack of Gen X and Gen Y (and my own birth year), DSB lives in the foggy troughs of our childhood memories. Most Journey songs do. “Anyway You Want It” has always been my personal favorite, because I remember listening to it on our local rock station, Q106, growing up. “Stone In Love” is pretty damn good, too, and makes a great summer song.
DSB, though, is in a class all by itself. I have been struck stone sober as a bar full of twenty-somethings set down their drinks, raise their fists, and struggle to reach the highest notes of “some-where in the NIIIGGGHHHTTTT!”
Andrea’s wedding featured a white person’s dance floor, complete with air guitars and arena rock. And what song was, arguably, the most popular – besides “Bohemian Rhapsody” (probably Gen X’s own DSB, at its height, thanks to “Wayne’s World”)? You guessed it. Every friggin’ person on that dance floor knew the words. It’s amazing.
And now I’ve learned that our generation, the iPod generation, has taken to this song so much that they’ve blessed Apple with ungodly amounts of money via iTunes downloads. It’s not Britney, or 50 Cent, or that cracker Jack Johnson. It’s not even other arena rockers like Boston or Foreigner or…hell…even REO Speedwagon. No, it’s Steve Perry and his dysfunctional bunch of Frisco hippies.
Don’t get me wrong: I like the song. I’ve probably karaoke’ed it a couple of times in some drunken stupor. Don and I have covered many Journey songs, in fact, and slaughter each one of them. As with Def Leppard and Bon Jovi, bars gravitate toward these kinds of songs – and only a few people screw up the lyrics. It’s frightening to think that an entire generation of misfits that drink from the well of YouTube and quench their thirst on Facebook would have the brain capacity to remember songs from just before they were born. What sense does that make?
I understand the longing for something from the past to hold on to. Each decade brings back tricks from previous eras (grunge and Sabbath, Interpol and Joy Division, pop punk with whoever that one band is that sucks). Then what, in this grim time on Earth, can we learn from Journey?
Maybe that’s just it. There’s nothing to be learned. Maybe it’s all in the mindless fun. That boy from “South Detroit” (they would call it “Downriver”)? He’s us. And to a generation who has never been without want, we never stop believing. We don’t know any other way.