THE AUTHOR

Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, MLive.com and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in Journey (3)

Wednesday
Jan112012

The mystery of 'South Detroit'

I think I've been pretty open about my love for Journey in recent months on this blog. Most people who know me how much I've loved that band since childhood. Of course, that means the anthem of my life has been "Don't Stop Believin'."

I always dug that there was a line about "South Detroit" in that song. Hey, they're singing about my city! (Well, so to speak; I grew up in Ann Arbor.) 

But now the song is a stadium anthem, played virtually everywhere — including Michigan Stadium, which I still can't quite abide — and the "born and raised in South Detroit" line always gets a shout-out from local sports fans. 

In recent years, however, that particular lyric has been dissected by metro Detroiters. Where exactly is "South Detroit"? Because it's not a part of the city anyone is familiar with, nor could find on a map.

"South Detroit" has also taken on life as a Twitter meme, thanks largely to Detroit Tigers beat writers, local sports reporters and fans on Twitter. (I'm looking at you, @matthewbmowery and @stareagle.) Not only was it a fictional neighborhood, but through Twitter, "South Detroit" practically became an alternate universe where magical things happened.

During a Tigers game, a ball that an opposing hitter would hit into the gap would be a great catch by center fielder Austin Jackson in "South Detroit." Instead of striking out on an eye-high fastball, third baseman Brandon Inge would get a base hit in "South Detroit." And so on. Maybe beer prices at the concession stands were cheaper, too. Whatever beautiful thing you could imagine. 

It was amusing. And will probably continue to be this spring and summer. But I never really jumped on with the uproar over the non-existence of a "South Detroit." It sounded fine to me. I still thought of it as a shout-out to a city I was familiar with in one of my all-time favorite songs. 

But for those who needed answers, Peter Hyman did what writers (reporters?) should do: Go to the source and find out the truth. In a post for NY Mag's Vulture, Hyman contacted former Journey lead singer Steve Perry to ask him about "South Detroit." Did he realize no such location existed? Was it a faux-pas from an out-of-towner? Or did he take artistic license for the sake of a good song lyric? 

Perry explained that he came up with the lyric while staring out of his hotel window during a 1980 five-night stand in Detroit. (Oh, if only such things happened anymore with rock tours.) The city was on his mind, so he put it in "Don't Stop Believin'." And yes, "South Detroit" just sounded right.

“I ran the phonetics of east, west, and north, but nothing sounded as good or emotionally true to me as South Detroit,” he says. “The syntax just sounded right. I fell in love with the line. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned that there is no South Detroit. But it doesn’t matter.”

Of course, he's exactly right. It doesn't matter.

Well, except maybe it does. Because the question of "South Detroit" has helped give the song continued life among music fans, sports fans and metro Detroit residents alike. Its popularity and resonance never ends. It goes on and on and on and on...

Thursday
Jul282011

This was not Journey's finest moment

Separate_ways
Just to prove (if only to myself) that I can be objective about Journey (in light of my last post), I will now make fun of them for quite possibly one of the silliest music videos ever made.

The year was 1983, the song was "Separate Ways." 

It was another big hit for Journey, despite a video in which the band is often depicted playing invisible instruments.

How did the discussion with the director go for this one?

Director: So what I'm thinking is we shoot some scenes with you guys playing invisible instruments.

Journey: What?

Director: Yeah, it'll be cool. Because this is a song about a, uh, failed relationship, right? I read the lyrics. So your instruments are like that girl that's gone now.

Journey: So we're just pretending to play guitars, drums and keyboards?

Director: Oh, and you'll be stalking some chick in heels and a leather skirt with massive hair. All takes place on a wharf.

Journey. [...]

Director: Trust me. This will rock. You don't see Foreigner doing this shit.

Read More >>

Jonathan Cain was even asked to play a keyboard mounted on a wall. Who would ever play that way? (Of course, that still isn't as dumb as a Keytar.)

Cain_journey
Another classic moment is when Steve Perry is walking backwards between stacks of pallets, looking behind himself to make sure he doesn't run into or fall over something. (Look anguished, Steve! The pallets are the obstacles in love!)

Perry_pallets
They had to have filmed this thing on a Sunday when no workers were around on the wharf. Not only would there have been major laughter, but you would've had pantomiming musicians getting in the way of actual blue-collar work being done. ("Hey Elvis, you gonna be done soon? We gotta forklift those pallets.")

Okay, enough snark and screen caps. Here's the video:

 

Wednesday
Jul272011

That's right: 'Don't Stop Believin'' is 30 years old

If you missed CBS' "Sunday Morning" last weekend (and I'm betting you did, since I'm the only one in my age group I know who watches it hey, I'm up early writing The Juice for Big League Stew), the last show had a feature on the 30th anniversary of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'."

As if I didn't already feel old being up so early on a Sunday morning. I knew I was in grade school when that song came out. It was one of the first videos I remember watching on MTV. But there it is. 30 years.

Journey_lineup

UPDATE: The video isn't embedding, so here's a link to the feature.

The elephant in the room that report glosses over, of course, is that original lead singer Steve Perry isn't with Journey anymore. But that was probably too convoluted to address. Besides, the guys who wrote the song — including guitarist Neal Schon, whose opening riff and later solo almost always stop me in my tracks — are still in the band. And the new singer, Arnel Pineda, is such a great story. He should be a sequel to "Rock Star."

Nowadays, "Don't Stop Believin'" is one of those songs you hear everywhere. It's played at all kinds of sporting events, including Red Wings games and even Michigan football games now. (I'm curious to see if Brady Hoke puts the kibosh on piped-in music at Michigan Stadium this season.) We love that "South Detroit" line. 

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It was in the final scene of "The Sopranos." It played over the post-credits scene (oh, and this one too) of "The Losers" (if you didn't see that movie). "Glee" made it big with the kids again. (I hadn't heard this version until creating that link for this post. Ugh.)

The song has become cool again. Which drives me kind of crazy, because I took a lot of shit for liking Journey through junior high school, high school, college and a good chunk of my twenties. Where the hell were you people when I was blasting "Escape" on my stereo and in my car? We could've been great friends, I'm sure. Some of us always thought "Don't Stop Believin'" was cool. (Or maybe it was me, not the Journey.)

But hey, that's great. It's obviously become a timeless song, a classic anthem that everyone enjoys now.

I believe this is the original video that played on MTV. As a little kid, I wanted to play on Steve Smith's drum set so badly.