Sunday, July 1, 2007

The Essence of The Title... The Soprano's and Journey!

So what the hell does that mean - the essence of the title? Well, it means that from time to time I will write something directly or indirectly relates to the name of this blog - "33 is the new 23." That being said, I thought I would chime in on the Soprano's ending. Kind of. I didn't see the ending when it aired, nor did I have to because it has become one of the most talked about endings of any show, ever, and deservedly so. When I finally saw it, it was like watching a re-run. I watched the show for a few seasons while I had HBO and enjoyed it, but I can't saw I am as crazed as others. However, there is one part of the ending that while making some people shake their head, made me smile.

You see, like a few other 33-year-olds, I'm a fan of Journey. Nope. I don't have any tattoos of their logos or of anything, I don't ride a chopper, and I will never be found donning leather, but I think the allure of the band far out-reaches the stereotypes it has had over the years. Can some of their music be referred to as "cheesy 80's ballads?" Sure, but that doesn't mean the music isn't good. Journey may have drawn most of their current fan-base on stardom of two songs in particular - "Faithfully" and "Open Arms," but the band's 75 million plus, world-wide sales reaches much further than these songs. When they came out, "Open Arms" in 1981 and "Faithfully" in 1983, the terms power ballad and arena rock were in their infancy, but bands like Journey, REO Speedwagon, and Stix pushed this sub-genre to every corner of America - whether they wanted to or not. While the band may have rather had the critics writing about the other guitar-driven songs on their albums, the songs that made the albums sell made the most chatter and are most aligned with the band today.

Yet, Journey, of these three bands in particular was able to transcend its' success to sales of their albums to the once extremely popular medium of movie soundtracks. It's a fact that Journey has had more songs appear in movies and on soundtracks than most, if not any other band, ever. The list is somewhat suprising, but given the royalties the band has collected from the aforementioned; it's probably something they aren't shy about. So the fact that "Don't Stop Believing" was featured in the Soprano's last episode may still be a little odd given the show's audience, but it makes more sense than some would think.

Two things come to mind in particular when choosing such a song. First, the premise of the show itself - in this writer's opinion - has stronger cultural ties to the 1970s and 1980s than today's cultural landscape. The characters in this show would have listened to Journey and not Green Day; it's just the way it is. As for the significance of using "Don't Stop Believing," well there are some people that don't think there was any, but we all know that such a notion is silly. We're talking about a show that ended by cutting to a black screen. we're talking about David Chase. He wouldn't just write a song into the series ending without something up his sleeve. What that something is, we may never know. Let's not fool ourselves. At the end of every episode, Tony reflects while a song is playing. It's not usually a song like this, but therein lies the unique nature of the choice. One can listen to the words of the song and come up with a few difference anecdote like the fact the episode stops after the lyrics, "don't stop," or you can go a little further and think that the song title as a metaphor for what David Chase wanted to do with the ending - leave it up to the imagination of the viewer. If so, it's perfect. You can believe whatever you want to believe in regard to what happened to Tony or any of the other characters in the bar that night and in the years to come. Thinking of it that way, Chase was brilliant to choose this song, but then there's more. Like I said earlier, I am not a Soprano's expert and don't claim to be, but I know that people from everywhere have poured over this topic looking for answers and there is one more that, to me, has to raise some eyebrows. Of course it has to mentioned that prior to licensing the song to Chase, former Journey frontman, Steve Perry, insisted on knowing the outcome. A bit demanding for a musical has-been? Sure, but to his credit, Perry kept quiet about the ending. Now he and his former bandmates are laughing all the way to the bank as they have seen a resurgence of album sales since the finale.

The various sets of lyrics in this song and how they could be used with plot is just plain uncanny. "Some will in, some will lose," is one that fits very well into the Soprano's landscape, but moreover, to fans of the show that are perhaps a little upset that the show has now ended, maybe it doesn't have to for them. As Steve Perry sings, "oh, the movie never ends, it goes on and on and on and on..." I was left a little in awe. I expect I'm not the only one.