Old rockers have a Gleeful comeback
By Charlotte Heathcote
Sunday March 28,2010
YOUR average pop song has a short-lived shelf life. With a bit of luck, a successful band’s new single will land in the top 10 in the week of release and, if it’s a real winner, it might linger for a few weeks in the upper reaches of the charts.
Thereafter it’s likely to be replaced by the next big tune with a Velcro hook, becoming a nostalgic memory for all but the most dedicated fans.
So why are two versions of power ballad Don’t Stop Believin’, one by Journey, who wrote it, and another by the cast of E4 high school comedy Glee, sitting in the UK top 30 almost 30 years after the track’s initial release? Why has the track been certified gold in the United States, where it’s been downloaded 600,000 times?
“We’ve made more money in the past two years than we ever made in our entire lives,” marvels Jonathan Cain, Journey’s keyboard player and co-writer of the song with singer Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon,. The band were formed in 1973 in California by former members of Latin rock band Santana. They were always far more successful in their homeland than over here, where Don’t Stop Believin’ became their only officialsingle release to chart, at No6 in 1981.
Even at home, the song stalled at No8. However, despite this relatively inauspicious start, Don’t Stop Believin’ has proved deathless over the decades. It’s a heartfelt, hands-in-the-air, rousing song with lyrics that speak of yearning and optimism: “Just a smalltown girl/Livin’ in a lonely world”
So Journey’s journey is far from over. After a decade-long hiatus, they reformed in the mid-Nineties, eventually replacing their singer Steve Perry with Arnel Pineda. Wisely, the band never sold off their publishing rights, and though Cain says their catalogue has experienced “up and down periods”, he admits the whole band could have retired on their royalties as much as a decade ago. Still, they have no intention of doing anything of the sort.
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