A couple of weeks ago, Blue Girl put up a post about her first concert: going to see Peter Frampton. It’s a wonderful post that really conveys the good things about seeing a really big rock show in the heyday of really big rock shows.
Around the same time, I started reading Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity. There’s a scene (in the book and movie) where Rob sees the singer Marie LaSalle doing a cover of Peter Frampton’s, “Baby, I Love Your Way.” After a paragraph where Rob rants and raves about how terrible Frampton Comes Alive was (“bought, presumably, by every brain-dead, coke-addled airhead in L.A.!”), Marie has this aside:
“I know I’m not supposed to like that song, but I do.”
That's a feeling I have a lot. Because before I became a good little indie-rock-loving hipster doofus, I was a fist-pumping, air-drumming, hello-Cleveland arena rock fan. Big hair, long solos, and Marshall stacks that went to 11 were my mainstay. This was particularly unfashionable at the trendy San Diego high school I attended. My friends teased me about it all the time—especially my Rush fandom, which needs to be its own post—but I refused to trade Ozzy for Oingo Boingo or Dokken for Depeche Mode.
As I grew older, I broadened my range of rock tastes. I branched out, even started liking some of the bands I made fun of. But the arena rock fan in me never died. I still do things like buy Iron Maiden’s The Essential Iron Maiden, which caused TLB last week to give me the eye roll that says, “Are you ever going to grow up?” (My answer: I run a blog with Circle Jerk in the title.)
So reading about Frampton, about music you’re not supposed to like but do, reminded me of my own, a band that stood for everything the critics stood against when I was growing up: Journey.
I am not a huge Journey fan. Never bought an album, although I had a taped copy of their greatest hits. But there are Journey songs I absolutely love, songs I refuse to apologize to the Robs of the world for. Yeah, they were corporate and unoriginal and very schmaltzy, but they wrote some damn good tunes.
On one of our recent casino road trips, I discussed this with TLB and our friend MSF, trying to determine if it was just me. They both agreed with me that they have Journey songs they really like, even though neither has much interest in arena rock in general or Journey in particular.
We also decided that most people, deep down, like at least one Journey song. Here were the three I named:
1) “Anyway You Want It”
For starters, it reminds me of the hilarious scene in Caddyshack where Rodney Dangerfield starts blasting the song out of his golf bag. But it’s much more than that. I love the propulsive riff beat, Steve Perry’s singing, and the Neil Schon solo at the end, which I always wind up air-guitaring with.
Yes, I’m going to be 36 in a couple of weeks.
2) “Don’t Stop Believing”
The smell of wine and CHEEP PER-FUME! Okay, so it won’t win any lyric contests. It’s got a small-town-girl-leaves-for-the-big-city theme that’s been done to death. Again, though, I get pulled in with the guitar bit at the beginning and by the time Steve Perry hits that “in the N-I-I-I-I-GHT” note right before the solo, I’m singing right there with him.
No, I don’t carry a lighter. Yes, my testicles are still attached. This is definitely the hardest one to ‘fess up to. The background:
TLB and I went through a long period of a long-distance relationship when we went our separate ways (ha!) to college. This slice of vinyl cheese always got me a little verklempft, much in the same way Hornby's Rob starts balling when he hears “Baby, I Love Your Way.”
A couple days ago, I was talking about this with TLB. She started humming the do-do-do-dododo guitar parts. “Wait, I’ll do the drums,” I said.
So what’s your Journey song? Don’t be scared to admit it. I just said that I stopped my wife in the middle of “Faithfully” so I could add the drum parts, so clearly I have won the embarrassment limbo. Share yours in the comments, and have a good weekend.