'Sopranos' Finale Puts Journey Back in the Spotlight

The television moment has already secured its place in pop culture lore.

The New Jersey mobster drops a quarter in the jukebox. The keyboard intro of a classic power ballad fills the air and the quintessentially American arena rock band Journey croons, "Don't stop believin', hold on to the feelin'…"

Since "The Sopranos" faded to black before nearly 12 million viewers last week, Steve Perry's phone has been ringing off the hook. The former lead singer for Journey told People magazine the congratulatory e-mails have been coming fast and furious.

"The end of the entire legacy of 'The Sopranos' ended with your song," wrote one friend to Perry. "What bigger honor is that?"

How about placing in the Top 10 of all iTune rock 'n' roll albums downloaded so far this week?

Wednesday's iTune Store Web site had the album "Journey's Greatest Hits" ranked No. 4 in the Top 10 rock songs requested for the day. That put the group ahead of John Mayer's "Continuum" (No. 5), rock icon Paul McCartney's "Memory Almost Full" (No. 7) and albums by current chart toppers the Fray and Maroon 5.

Earlier in the week both the song "Don't Stop Believin'" and the "Greatest Hits" album were in the Top 30 out of millions of downloaded iTunes -- a great performance by any industry measurement.

"I am pretty much dumbfounded by the band period: that we are still here kicking it hard and doing amazing business -- close to what we did in the '80s when we were at our height," said founding band member Neal Schon.

"We're selling 20,000 tickets a night," boasted the 53-year-old guitarist. "And we haven't had any other hit records beyond what we did in the '80s." Schon said he has been bombarded with phone calls and hundreds of e-mails since Sunday's night Sopranos finale as well.

"For them to use our song at the end of it is probably the highest compliment ever for that song."

The "greenlight" from the song's writers -- Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain and Steve Perry -- came at the 11th hour: three days before the final episode was set to air on HBO.

"In order to feel good about me approving the song use, they had to tell me what happened," Perry told People magazine's Bryan Alexander. "I didn't want the song to be part of a bloodbath, if that was going to be the closing moment."

Show creator David Chase swore Perry to secrecy, then told him how he planned to end the wildly popular crime drama.

The 58-year-old singer with the signature high tenor thinks the song and Chase's ending were a perfect duet.

"I think he tried to grab the normalcy of family in the midst of any chaos or fears. I think that all families have fears and chaos," Perry told Entertainment Weekly. "The Sopranos have their share, but man, underneath it all is this, like, foundation of life. Life goes on and on and on."

"The song is such a timeless piece of Americana," observed rock music critic Paul Gargano. "Growing up, it might be the song you were drinking beer to in the parking lot at a concert, but 20 years later it is a song about hope and about life."

Schon recalled the time when he, Perry and guitarist and keyboard player Jonathan Cain gathered in an Oakland, Calif., rehearsal studio to work on songs for their successful 1981 album "Escape," the group's seventh record.

"It happened in an afternoon, within three hours," said Schon of that day.

"It's about hope and will," said Schon. "We wrote very positive songs. It was a brighter sound. Happier, upbeat, but still rock."

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