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Journey had early belief in ‘Don’t Stop Believin’

Updated December 2, 2021 - 9:32 am

The first single off Journey’s 1981 album, “Escape,” was something special. Soaring vocals from Steve Perry; a signature, melodic guitar solo from Neal Schon; pristine keyboard artistry from then-newcomer Jonathan Cain. The song dominated airplay that fall, propelling the album to the top of the Billboard charts. It seemed the type of anthem that would hold sway over generations of music fans.

Yep, “Whose Crying Now” was a great song, a top-five Billboard hit and the right choice as the first single from “Escape.” But the second song out, less noticed at the time, is Journey’s all-time greatest hit. We speak of “Don’t Stop Believing,” of course.

The second single from “Escape” did break into the top 10 (No. 9), but was the third-best selling single from that as “Open Arms” shot to No. 2. Largely because it was covered majestically on the TV show “Glee,” which re-issued a top-selling version of the song in 2010, “Don’t Stop Believin’” is the top-selling digital track from the 20th century. More than seven million copies have been sold in just in the U.S. The song has its own place in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Schon and Cain say there was an inclination that “Don’t Stop Believing” would be magical, even 40 years ago.

“I told Jon it would be special, and he thought so, too,” Schon said in a group interview with Cain and singer Arnel Pineda at the Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, where Journey opened its six-show residency Wednesday night. “I was listening to a very-close-to-final mix, and I said, ‘Man, I think that song is going to be massive,’ because it was so different.”

Schon explained, “The arrangement was not traditional, you know, AM radio, the generic formula, where you go from a verse, then into a guitar solo. It doesn’t go to a chorus. Then it goes to another verse, and the only time we hear the chorus is at the very end, after the guitar plays the melody of the chorus.”

Schon’s guitar on the song effectively forecast Perry’s chorus near the end. “Steve was not so keen on that, but I pressed. I said, ‘It’s a great melody, I’m going to play it.’ ”

“Escape” was Cain’s first album with Journey. He, Schon and Perry co-wrote “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

“It wasn’t a big hit,” Cain recalled. “Now, it’s probably 5-to-1 the biggest money-earning song we have in our catalog, which is extraordinary.”

Cain said the song’s message never ages.

“It’s funny how things work out that way, and I believe that the lyrics of that song and just the feel of it seem to still be relevant, in a positive way” Cain said. “So in uncertain times, you need certain music, right?”

Cain then invoked the oft-debated, closing scene of “The Sopranos.”

“Tony Soprano will tell you, it takes a little anxiety out of the air as he is sitting in the diner, you know, pressing the Journey button,” Cain said. “He looked at a lot of songs, but he he played Journey, because there’s a certain feeling that song gives people.”

Manilow’s chorus

Barry Manilow has enlisted the Las Vegas Academy Singers to perform in his “A Very Barry Christmas” shows at International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas from Thursday through Sunday. The ensemble will be onstage and also sing to ticket-holders entering the theater. The series is Manilow’s first holiday-themed production in Vegas.

Great moments in social media

Foo Fighters have posted a cover of “Copacabana (At The Copa)” on the band’s official IG page, @foofighters. Manilow reposted the clip Tuesday. We find that Dave Grohl seems more a Tony guy than a Rico guy.

Whichever, this clip is just amazing, the holiday gift that keeps giving. And, Foo Fighers are headlining Dolby Live on Thursday and Saturday. A live version would make Dolby Live the hottest spot, north of Havana.

Cool Hang Alert

The vivacious and versatile vocalists Amanda King and Kelly Vohnn co-star in “A Very Vegas Christmas. at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Summerlin Performing Arts Center. This is a vintage (another “V” word) Christmas show in the spirit of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Andy Williams Bing Crosby and Julie Andrews.

Different casts each night, with Jimmy Denning, Anthony Brady, Dennis Blair and Anne Martinez on Friday; and Zowie Bowie, Brent Barrett, Geechy Guy and Lisa Gay on Saturday.

Tickets start at $35. Go to AVERYVEGASCHRISTMAS.com for ticket info; the shows streams on StageIt.com. The shows benefit Cure 4 The Kids Foundation (cure4thekids.org) and find how to support there, too.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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