Depending on what side of the musical fence you lean on, Journey's "Don't Stop Believin," has either transcended generations or is the 80s rock anthem that won't go away.
A Top 10 hit when first released in 1981 and heard in regular rotation on classic rock and adult contemporary radio stations throughout the country ever since, "Believin" emerged amongst Chicago White Sox faithful as the unofficial anthem of their triumphant 2005 season. Two years later, it served as the musical backdrop to the controversial final moments on "The Sopranos."
Its inclusion in another small–screen favorite, "Glee," sent the song back into the stratosphere. A cover version of "Believin'" sung by the show's cast was a Top 10 hit, and the Steve Perry–sung original made it a digital sensation; it's amongst the best selling iTunes downloads in the history of the format and has been cited as the best selling song to be sold as a digital single from the 20th Century.
Neil Daniels, author of the Journey bio "Don't Stop Believin (Omnibus Press)," has a theory to why the song remains beloved by rock fans young and old.
"I guess the title itself says it all; it's rather self–explanatory, you know," he said. "Don't Stop Believing. Don't give up on your hopes and dreams. It's also a really catchy song with a killer melody and a chorus to die for and, on the original recording, Steve Perry's voice is majestic."
Making its way to bookstore shelves Aug. 1, "Believin,' the book, is a warts–and–all telling of four decades of highs and lows of one of America's most successful rock bands who, despite no small amount of scorn in their heyday from a plethora of music scribes and fans with discerning tastes, have sold more than 80 million albums over the course of the last three decades plus.
Formed by guitarist and former Santana sideman Neal Schon and bassist Ross Valory in 1973, Journey floundered until the arrival of vocalist Perry. In his near–decade with the band in the late 70s through the 80s, Perry and band crafted now classic–rock standards, along with "Believin,'" such as "Lights," "Any Way You Want It," "Separate Ways," "Faithfully" and "Open Arms," to name just a few, and sent albums such as "Believin" parent album "Escape," 1978's "Infinity" and 1983's "Frontiers" into the upper echelons of the album charts.
Perry parted ways with his band following the release and tour of their 1986 set "Raised on Radio," and while a reunion set, "Trial by Fire," followed in 1996, plans to tour in support of the album fell to the wayside when Perry bowed out yet again, and this time seemingly for good, citing a hip injury.
Despite the absence of their most successful and renowned front man, Journey continues to record and tour today and includes Schon, Valory and keyboardist Jonathan Cain, whose musical contributions with Schon and Perry propelled many of Journey's songs into classic rock gold.
"Fire" remains Perry's last full–length set of new material, and his most memorable performance since its release arguably took place in 2005, when he belted out his signature song with the White Sox following their World Series victory.
Daniels is a British–based journalist and author whose penned books about classic and present day rockers from Robert Plant to Bon Jovi to Linkin Park.
"Journey's music represents universal themes, songs about love, relationships, lust, angst and that kind of thing and these themes are what we all experience in our lives regardless of language or cultural barriers," Daniels said via email. "Especially in the U.S.A., Journey's music really represents a certain time in the lives of a particular generation ... ask one American rock fan who was a teen in the '80s and they'll tell you Journey played a big part in their lives."
Daniels didn't receive firsthand insight from band members from their 70s and 80s golden era for his tome -- the reluctance of former and present members of the band during their golden era to relay any former inter–band turmoil is noted in the book by Daniels. The most vital and credible observations come exclusively in "Believin'" from Herbie Herbert, the manager who guided the band from their humble beginnings through Perry's final arena tour with the band in 1986 and 1987.
While "Believin'" features little, if any, tabloid–worthy revelations, Daniels admitted to being shocked when it came to Herbert's feelings regarding the band's most visible former member.
"Though I knew the band's original manager and founder Herbie Herbert did not especially like Perry, I didn't realize just how much his contempt was," he said. "Sure, Herbie has never taken credit away from Perry as a singer, but as a person I don't think Perry comes across in a great light."
The wheel in the sky keeps on turning for Journey in 2011. Fronted by the Perry–esque vocalist Arnel Pineda, the band released their most recent effort, "Eclipse," in May and included a July 30 stop at Tinley Park's First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre on their current summer tour. Additionally, Daniels noted in the final pages of "Believin'" Perry has penned and recorded new songs in recent years, yet no plans for presenting the music to the public have been announced.
While time has proven to heal wounds with many a classic rock and pop act, Daniels doesn't foresee a mending of the fences, on album or on tour, between Perry and his former band mates.
"I honestly can't see it ever happening," he said. "I think Perry would rather have people remember him for the great singer he was. If he was to tour again it just wouldn't be the same. He might still be a good singer but he won't be the great singer he once was. He'll never recapture that."