I never really rated Journey, much. Everyone around me listened to them, but I didn’t see the attraction…much. I suppose when I was 13 or 14, they were ubiquitous on the radio. I think I had a 45 from them as well. But I wasn’t a full-on fan. In many ways, their music was really just soft rock with hard guitars.
There was one song from them, though – “Don’t Stop Believin’” – which is particularly evocative for me. The lines of the song hinted at a bigger world outside of my own, and people who felt as lonely as I did, but with great hope keeping them going, taking trains to anywhere but where they are from. To go somewhere else.
The song talked of people breaking out of their own private prisons to follow dreams, maybe their dreams were like mine: just to get away. Or maybe they were escaping things darker than the things I was escaping. And people making connections with people in the night because they/we are all running away. Taking chances on a world much bigger outside of their small existence, escaping into the Great American Night as Kerouac would have put it.
I always wanted to leave, to find the place where I belonged. I certainly never felt as if I belonged where I was. I wanted to break away and become my own person. I was a sad, isolated little boy who didn’t know what he wanted, just that it was different from what he was getting. And no one to tell me how to do it differently. And it happened to coincide with when I was beginning to break away from my family to become my own person.
Becoming my own person was always what I wanted to be. I took the Declaration of Independence seriously, but independence wasn’t necessarily a trait that was encouraged in my family. It was, quite frankly, a struggle. And everything was about doing things my own way, being my own person.
I remember that Journey would get played a lot at the roller rink where I hung out with my friends. The place where I kissed my first girl. “Don’t Stop Believin’” always lifted one up when skating at a fast, but safe, speed around the rink. The heartbeat elevated, the feeling elevating.
Since then, I have made my escape, and tried to get as far away from where I was then as I could. Rather than the Great American Night, I live a rather pedestrian life on the South Coast of England. Still, I had my moments, and will have many more after this. But I’m not running any more, because I am where I belong: with my wife and daughter (and soon to be newborn baby.)
Last year, I went rollerskating with my daughter at the local leisure centre. The Cast from Glee recently did a cover of the tune that is virtually a capella, and actually, rather well-arranged. That tune came on as we were skating around the large area used for skating on Saturday afternoons.
The song brought me right back to being that awkward little teenager, becoming his own person, and eventually escaping. And then I looked over at my daughter, who was eleven at the time.
I realised that she is going to become her own person and make her own declarations of independence and have her own life, and feel awkward, and kiss boys for the first time at some place like a skating rink, and maybe she will go out into the world and search for her fortune like the people that Stephen Perry sang about.
And I got a lump in my throat, because, one day, my little girl will not be just my little girl any more: she will be someone’s girlfriend or employee or friend or any other type of relationship one can think of. She will be her own person and she will belong to more people than just me and my wife. And she will belong to herself.
But, you know what? That’s the way it should be. And I hope she never stops believing.