Posts Tagged ‘Steve Perry’

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THE POWER OF A SONG

November 23, 2009

“It’s really popular right now.”

“It is?”

“Yeah. My daughter loves the tune. I think it’s a theme song for some TV show she watches. She says young people really identify with the message.”

“Hmm. This might explain why the group is so popular again, after all these years.”

It became a must-learn song for our band.

But it presented a huge challenge. We had to find someone who could sing it with the energy and power of the original vocalist. That took one year. Most groups would just drop the tune and pick an easier one that could be sung by a current member of the band.

But this is not just any tune and we have no plans to be just any band.

Nearly thirty years ago, the composers had no idea the impact it would have. Even the record company didn’t think it should be released as a single – at least not the first single from the album – because they didn’t think it had enough mass appeal.

Released in 1981, it reached #8 on Billboard‘s Mainstream Rock chart, and #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It was never a #1 one hit.

Today, the song has appeared in a number of film and television series, including The Wedding Singer, Family Guy, Monster, Shrek the Halls, Bedtime Stories, Yes Dear, King of the Hill, The Comebacks, View from the Top, South Park, Cold Case, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, My Name Is Earl, Just Shoot Me, Laguna Beach, American Idol, Australian Idol, X Factor, Scrubs, The Sopranos, and Glee. It gained national press for its use in the final scene of HBO‘s The Sopranos from the series finaleMade in America.” It’s even been used in a Presidential campaign. It is now considered the signature song for the group that recorded it.

One of the song’s writers is easily the best-known rock vocalist of all time. The other writers were the keyboardist, Jonathan Cain and the lead guitarist, Neal Schon. When the singer decided to move on, the band went through lead singers for ten years searching for one that could handle the lead vocals without losing their voice. Today, the band’s music is so popular that there are over 60 “tribute” bands performing it world-wide.

Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey, featuring the unmistakable voice of Steve Perry, has made its mark as one of the most memorable songs in popular music’s history. It has one of the broadest demographic appeals of any song in my lifetime – and I’m no “spring chicken.”

Here’s a two part interview from July, 2009, with Perry about the tune by Canada’s CBC Radio One host, Jian Gomeshi. Enjoy the slide show while listeneing.

A few days ago, I set up two microphones in the rehearsal room to record us reviewing nine tunes, one of which was “Don’t Stop Believin’.” This is a “live” recording – no individual tracks, no “do-overs.” Although we still have some areas that need improvement, I feel we’ve captured the essence of the song. And yes, for those reading who might be musicians, we perform all of our songs in their original keys.

Steve Perry and Journey raised the bar for rock music in the ‘80s and their music continues to influence rock today. They make those of us “covering” their songs, better vocalists and instrumentalists. When I sent an e-mail of our version to one of my relatives who used to play hard rock in the ’80s, he said, speaking of our lead singer, “Man, that guy has a great voice!” and later in the e-mail he said, “…you totally nailed the keyboards…”

“Totally nailing” keyboard parts is what I do, dude.

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com