They played my favorite song…
"Those crazy nights, I do remember in my youth
I do recall, those were the best times, most of all"
Driving around in my car, looking for action, back when you had to leave your house to connect, before the Internet wired us all and blew a giant hole in the music business.
Don't get me wrong, I was not a Journey fan. Come on!
But I heard the records. Back when number one was known by everybody. I bet most of you reading this have no idea what number one is today, but every one of you knows "Don't Stop Believin'."
And that's why they came.
To hear that.
And "Separate Ways," "Lights," "Wheel In The Sky," "Faithfully"…
Yes, Journey has songs. You can wail on your instrument, and Neal Schon most definitely can, but it's meaningless unless you can write a hook.
From the remnants of Santana a new band was formed and after bringing in a new lead singer, they became a stadium act, huge stars.
And that's guy's gone, home counting his royalty checks, although I did see his photo on the big screen at the end of the show…
But the songs live on.
Come on. We're all nostalgic. For the way it used to be. What we want to do most is go out into the fresh air and hear…
Those songs of yesteryear.
And when you hear that crunchy guitar, those fluid keyboard notes, it takes you back…
"When the lights go down in the city…"
Of course it's ersatz. Arnel Pineda can hit the notes, but he's not Steve Perry, literally.
But it doesn't matter. Because these aren't the band's songs anymore, but ours.
That's what happens. We've all aged. We've indoctrinated our children into these numbers. The players get old, decrepit, some can no longer ply the boards at all, but the songs remain fresh, and when we hear them…
Once upon a time the coolest people in the world were musicians. They were beholden only to themselves. They played not down to their audience, their audience looked up to them.
And it didn't hurt if you were pretty, but it didn't matter. The only criterion was whether you could PLAY! And if you wrote some good songs, and the record company did its job, suddenly everybody knew your tunes, and many knew your names. Kick out the bass player and you alienated a ton of fans.
It was our national sport, our religion. Rock stars made much more dough than NBA players. Christian music was still a niche. Country artists sang of cheating and alcohol instead of baby seats and church.
And we ate it up.
And we've never stopped believin'.
And then when our national hero, Tony Soprano, ended his run and David Chase chose the Journey song to end the series, "Don't Stop Believin'" suddenly became our national anthem.
And it most certainly is.
We're Americans. We want to believe that not only is everything going to work out, we're gonna triumph.
But that's difficult when the rich buy the good seats and you're lucky to get into the building.
Yup, down front they were rattling their jewelry, but as you went back in the Bowl they were standing, hands in the air, eyes to the sky, singing… Believing that with a song by their side, their life will work out.
We've lost the plot. With all these songs about how much better the performer is than the audience. Once upon a time, we were all in it together, at the rock show.
"You make me weep and wanna die
Just when you said we'd try"
What are you gonna do when you lose your job, when you're dumped, when your spouse asks for a divorce?
"When I'm alone, all by myself
You're out with someone else
Lovin', touchin', squeezin' each other"
Watcha gonna do? PUT ON A RECORD!
"It won't be long, yeah, till you're alone
When your lover, oh, he hasn't come home
'Cause he's lovin', ooh, he's touchin', he's squeezin' another"
Revenge. We want them to get fat, be unhappy, we want justice.
And there's rarely justice in real life, but there certainly is in music.
"Now it's your turn girl to cry…
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na
Na na na na na na
Na na na na na"
So we're 17,000 strong, singing along at the top of our lungs, in victory.
Yes, the little Filipino guy was plucked from obscurity to lead us in song.
The three alta kachers can still play.
And we're still here.
Exulting in the glory of rock and roll.
AND IT FEELS SO GOOD!