Neal Schon on Journey's ''Sopranos'' moment
Guitarist Neal Schon says it's ''awesome'' that his band's ''Don't Stop Believin','' a song he cowrote back in 1981, closed out one of the most critically acclaimed series of all time
Who cares if Tony’s dead or alive? The real question lingering after Sunday night’s finale of The Sopranos is why did creator David Chase choose Journey’s power ballad ”Don’t Stop Believin”’ to play during the last scene?! It certainly resonated with viewers: The tune had climbed its way into iTunes’ Top 40 as of Tuesday morning. But what does it all mean? Does Chase want us to hold on to the feeeel-ay-y-ay-ing? Oh the questions, they go on and on and on and on…. We called up Journey guitarist Neal Schon, who cowrote the chart-topping ”Don’t Stop Believin”’ back in 1981, for some answers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I hear you haven’t seen the episode yet, but I’m sure a million people have talked to you about it by now.
NEAL SCHON: [Laughs] I woke up to calls today — my phone was, like, ringin’ off the hook. I was a big fan of the show, I just don’t watch TV a lot. I’ve been working in the studio lately, writing some new material, and so I didn’t even know it was on last night. I mean, the first notion I even had that it was gonna be on the show was the guy that works our publishing trying to get [our music] into different TV shows and whatnot e-mailed me the other day and said there was a possibility that it might get in the show. He didn’t say that it did. But I heard about it from everybody today and everybody said it was great.
What was your reaction when you found out that ”Don’t Stop Believin”’ had made the cut?
I was like, awesome!
Why do you think David Chase chose that song?
I think there’s probably a hidden message why they wanted to use that song. ”Don’t Stop Believin”’ means that they’re gonna be back with a new series.
Really? You think that’s why?
I mean, that’s a given to me. That’s the way I take it. I’m originally from New Jersey, and I’ve got Italian blood in me, so I was like, I hope they ask me to do a guest appearance if they rework the show and come back with a new series. I could be playing some blues guitar in a bar somewhere with a pool table. [Laughs] As far as it being a positive [for us], I can’t believe that this song just surfaces in so many great shows and when the Chicago White Sox won [the World Series in 2005] and the St. Louis Cardinals winning games last year. The song just continues to be a big hit. So it doesn’t even matter that we did it back in 1983 or whatever it was. [It was 1981.] It’s a feel-good song and it’s got a positive message.
Hearing your song play when Carmela walked in the restaurant to meet Tony got me all choked up. Your music moved me, man!
It’s funny: I just ran into John Cain, the writer on the song with Steve Perry and me. He saw the show last night. He said, ”It was great — wait till you see it! They played the whole song. It stops on ‘Don’t stop!’ And then it goes black.” I go, Wow that’s pretty heavy, that’s great. Good for us! Good for them, good for us! [Laughs]
Are you going to watch the episode today?
Yeah, definitely. To be on the last episode of a show like that, the last scene, the closing of everything — everybody’s talking about it. I’m actually pissed off that my agent didn’t e-mail me and say, ”Watch tonight.” I’m gonna drill him! Like I told you, last thing I knew was [HBO] were asking permission [to use the song]. We turn down a lot of stuff. And the reason that we turn down a lot of stuff is because this is what happens from turning down cheesy stuff.
What, being immortalized in one of the most critically beloved TV series of all time?