Obsessing over Journey
It’s all David Chase’s fault. Had the Sopranos mastermind chosen a different song to end his series — a nice, forgettable Barry Manilow tune, maybe? — I simply would have watched the June 10 finale, marveled at the smash-to-black conclusion, and happily got on with my life. But no. Chase had to play Journey’s ”Don’t Stop Believin”’ in the diner scene. And from the moment Carmela walked through the door, right when Steve Perry crooned ”Just a small-town girl/Livin’ in a lonely world,” I could feel it. I was doomed. Doomed to waste countless hours trolling the Web for fansites, interviews, and old Journey videos. Doomed, even, to make my tech-savvy husband download a bootleg of VH1’s Behind the Music: Journey. (Totally worth it, by the way.) It’s like I was bewitched.
The weirdest part was, I wasn’t rekindling some former fandom. Yes, I’m a child of the ’80s, so it’s likely I experienced my very first slow dance to that ultimate power ballad, ”Open Arms.” But I’d never been on the Journey bandwagon. There was just something in the band’s unabashedly syrupy sound (”Oh-oh-oh-oh…Faithfully! I’m still yoooooours!”) that made me nostalgic for a time when stress meant praying my bangs were sufficiently feathered on class-picture day. So while my colleagues tirelessly debated whether Tony Soprano lived or died, all I could think was: Wow, Journey used to be kinda awesome. Of course, I kept this to myself. In the safety of my apartment, I’d guiltily devour a live 1981 version of ”Don’t Stop Believin”’ in which the guys ran around a Houston stage in skintight, high-waisted jeans. I’d laugh myself silly at the absurdly earnest ”Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” video. (Air keyboards!) And I’d pump my fist in solidarity when I read online postings from fans still outraged that guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain booted Steve ”the Voice” Perry from the band in 1998.
Some six weeks into my freakish obsession, I found myself humming ”Any Way You Want It” while attempting scorpion pose in yoga class. Hanging upside down, I realized my habit had gotten out of hand. So I kicked it — mostly. Of course, to write this essay, I had to tap back into my mania just a little. As I rewatched the Godfather of New Jersey flip through the jukebox, bypassing Heart and Tony Bennett before settling on Journey, I decided I was done hiding my fondness for the corny kings of melodic rock. Tony chose ”Don’t Stop Believin”’ because the song rules. It’s a timeless anthem to lifting yourself up. Like Tony, I want to hold on to that feel-ay-ee-yay-ing. And there’s not a darn thing wrong with that.