In Praise of Don’t Stop Believin’

Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ recently went over one billion streams on Spotify, an accomplishment that joins them with Queen (for Bohemian Rhapsody) as the only two bands to do so.

Here are a few facts about the song:

Famously, there is no “South Detroit” which has been the subject of much discussion over the years. Steve Perry admitted he made the whole South Detroit thing up because “south” sang better for him than east or west. Technically, such a place would be Windsor, Ontario.

Oh wait! There actually is a South Detroit!! It’s a township in Brown County, South Dakota with an estimated population of 66 which gives new meaning to “just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world” LOL.

It’s weird for a pop song. The sing-along chorus as well as the first mention of the song’s title doesn’t show up for 3:20, i.e. not until the last 50 seconds of the song!

Don’t Stop Believin’ was released in 1981 during the peak of Journey’s popularity. Material from a concert in Houston was filmed and aired by a then fledgling MTV and helped the network gain attention.

The song was not Journey’s top hit. It only got to #9 on Billboard. Who’s Crying Now (#4), Open Arms (#2), and Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) (#8) charted higher. Be Good To Yourself also reached #9. Steve Perry’s solo release Oh Sherrie reached #3.

Ironically, it is far and away the band’s biggest seller prompted by its 2007 appearance in the last scene of The Sopranos. Steve Perry was initially opposed to the use of the song but fortunately relented. That sound you’ve been hearing since then is the ringing of the cash register[1]. While the original single attained gold status, the digital release hit 5x platinum making it one of the most downloaded songs in history.

Even the Glee cast version from the show’s first episode in May 2009 achieved platinum status two weeks later.

And there’s Steve Perry’s famous clear-as-a-clarion note. Stree-eetlight, pe-eo-ple, oh-o-ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh . . .


[1] All those people downloading the song since 2014 are wondering, “What’s a cash register?”

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