Friday, June 12, 2009

Top 5 Reasons People Love "Don't Stop Believing"

If you are a person, chances are you have been in a bar. If you have been in a bar, chances are you have heard this song. If you heard this song in a bar, chances are people started singing along. If you continue to be a person, chances are you sang along, too.

So... why?

5. The appeal to blue collar values

This is, in fact, a rock song. Rock heroes do not sip champagne or inhabit rooms unclouded by smoke. They cannot afford the early evening train; they are forced to travel at midnight. They don't even have concrete destinations... they will settle for anywhere, but more importantly, anywhere but here. They are everymen--city boys, small town girls--living in their Last Ditch Days, and for this reason, they are to be trusted.

4. The "boy meets girl" aspect

It's also a love song, of sorts--or at least enough of a love song to serve as the central narrative of the musical Rock of Ages. We pretty much abandon the city boy and the small town girl after the first verse, and if the following verses are to be taken at face value, their smile-sparked romance is a brief one. However, as the song says, these are people "living just to find emotion"--despite the brevity of their love, they have nonetheless achieved it. This is why we scream these words every time the song comes on in a bar. Anyone in a bar past 1AM is pretty much a passenger in the same boat--you don't stay out because you aren't looking for emotion.

3. The denial of finality

The movie never ends. The movie never ends. How beautiful is that? It's so so simple, but somehow it's a better approximation of the human condition than 95% of what else is out there. There will be victories, there will be tragedies, but there is no fade-to-black-and-roll-credits. No endings, just complications--good and bad complications. The song obviously chooses to spin this conclusion positively--since there is no "ultimate", there is always hope. There is always cause for belief. This is what you want to hear after seven beers and three shots. You want to be told that no matter what you have failed at tonight, this is not your last shot.

2. The acknowledgment of our brokenness

And yet, what is this quintessence of dust? Despite the soaring vocals, the driving piano line, what are we? Shadows, strangers... searching, hiding. We are not whole. We spend our nights in bars, searching for the missing pieces, and then, in the morning, they are gone. We are waiting for something that we know will not heal us, but we are willing to pay a smile and take the chance anyway.

1. The possibility of redemption

But as the song ascends towards the glorious explosion of its final chorus, we are reminded that every so often, things come together. Hope has its payoff. The city boy and the small town girl have their moment. Moments don't last, but you can still "hold on to that feeling". Somewhere between "Everything ends" and "Nothing ends", there is a kind of peace.

That being said, I kinda like prefer Asia's "Heat of the Moment". Though the cover of "Don't Stop Believing" on the pilot-cum-season-finale of Glee was pretty tight.


Trey said...

Didn't we have a talk about this when we worked at Daemen?

Trey said...

I'm pretty sure every single one of my comments on here has mentioned "when we worked at Daemen."

Professor Remix said...

I've been catching up on this and as I saw each headline, tried to guess if it was Peter or Rob who wrote it; I got 100% of the ones on the front page.