THE Q&A

And on That Note...

Journey's former vocalist Steve Perry says he needed to know how ''Don't Stop Believin''' would be used before he approved it for ''The Sopranos'' finale, but that in the end he thinks it was the perfect choice

PERRY ''[W]hen they cut to black, I just shouted out loud. Like, you've got to be effin' kidding me! That's AMAZING!''
Image credit: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images
PERRY ''[W]hen they cut to black, I just shouted out loud. Like, you've got to be effin' kidding me! That's AMAZING!''

We weren't joking when we said that questions about the Sopranos finale go on and on and on and on... 'Cause just when we were giving up hope that Journey's former frontman Steve Perry would call us back to chat about Tony and Carm taking a midnight train goin' anywhere, there he was on the horn, explaining that he'd watched the episode not once, but twice, and was even planning on watching it a third time that night. ''The last two days have been amazing,'' he told us, sounding very excited. ''It's just unbelievable.'' Here's what else Perry had to say about handing over ''Don't Stop Believin''' to New Jersey's first family.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So did you know ''Don't Stop Believin''' was going be in the episode?
STEVE PERRY: I did know ahead of time because they had wanted the song and they approached us, the writers — myself, [Journey bandmates] Jonathan Cain, and Neal Schon — a long time ago. Honestly, it didn't clear until last Thursday, because I was concerned that this could be a finale bloodbath or a Valentine's massacre. So I said, ''Well if you can't tell me what's gonna happen [in the episode] and trust me that I won't tell anybody, I can't personally feel comfortable approving the use of the song.'' They said, ''We'll tell you under one condition that you can't say anything.'' And they told me the exact layout of how it's used, what happens, where it goes to black and everything, including [Tony] thumbing through the little jukebox on the table looking for songs.

Wow, they must have really wanted the song for David Chase to lift his omerta on Sopranos plot points.
Yeah, I'm dying to meet David Chase. I didn't have that privilege. I sure would love to congratulate him and thank him. I think I'll try through channels to make that happen.

So how did you feel watching the episode?
Well, what [HBO] didn't tell me was all the tension that had built up in that scene: the daughter's having difficulty parking. I'm freakin' out, thinking Tony's being whacked, then they cut to some buffoon walking down the aisle to go to the bathroom, Godfather style, to get the gun on the back of the toilet bowl, you know? And then when they cut to black, I just shouted out loud. Like, you've got to be effin' kidding me! That's AMAZING! That's just perfect. And then he went to titles with no music and it was still audio black. I was stunned at that point. I thought it was pretty ballsy! [Laughs]

What is your interpretation of why Chase chose your song?
I don't know. I guess he saw something in the song that resonated with what he wanted to do. I'll tell you what I did see: I think he tried to grab the normalcy of family in the midst of any chaos or fears. I think that all families have fears and chaos, and I think the Sopranos have their share, but man, underneath it all is this, like, foundation of life. Life goes on and on and on. ''Movie never ends, it just keeps going on and on.'' And I think that the song has a lot of that in it.

Right, a lot of us here in the EW offices interpreted it that way — that very little changes in the Soprano life. By the way, is ''Anyway You Want It'' the real B-side to ''Don't Stop Believin','' as the jukebox has it?
Good catch on your part! To my knowledge, it was not. They're from two different albums. I'm trying to remember what the B-side was. I'm looking at the single in my head... It could have been ''Still They Ride.''

I wasn't expecting to get all teary during the episode. Does the song still make you emotional after all these years?
Yeah. I remember when I was working on the Live in Houston '81 DVD, and there's a moment where [we start playing] ''Don't Stop Believin','' and the place goes crazy. I remember getting that same choked feeling on stage and then I got the same feeling when I was mixing it. So just to know that people love it that much just takes me down. I mean, it's just an emotional song. I can't take credit for it. Nobody can. We were just writing from our hearts and doing the best we can. But we sure got lucky with this one. And I think you need to print that I have not been in the band since May of 1998. That's almost 10 years, Holy Christ. [Laughs] But the guys and I disagree on some of the requests that we get, and some of 'em I don't want to do and they do. This one, we all agreed that it was great.

And now the whole country's humming your song. Well, I am. I can't seem to get it out of my head. And the song is up to No. 30 on iTunes.
That's pretty cool.

What do you think about the band going on without you?
Um, you know, I have such a hard time voicing any opinions with the new incarnation of the group. I just have an opinion and memories of the Journey that I was in, that I can have opinions about and remember good and bad times, as they do. But the new incarnation, really, it's none of my business.

Are you working on anything?
Actually, I am messing around with music again. I'm starting to write and enjoying the process. We'll see where that takes me.

So, the journey goes on. Ha ha.
Right. Though we've gone our separate ways. Oh sorry. Did I say that? [Laughs] Okay, good-bye.

Originally posted Jun 13, 2007