Culture

A modest proposal: Don’t stop believing

Don’t stop believing

Do you know the Journey song “Don’t stop believing“?   It starts with a great keyboard riff and the lyrics of “Just a small town girl Livin’ in a lonely world She took the midnight train”  It also is in our recent public consciousness as it was used in the final scene of the fade-to-back Sopranos Finale.  It is in those riffs that your heart rate goes up and you feel that something grand is coming right around the melodic corner.  In a way it was perfect for the Sopranos fade to black. Did they die in a massive restaurant drive-by shooting or did they just shoot the breeze (sort of speak), finish up their meals and go on for a while more with their dysfunctional lives?  Either way, you can’t stop believing.

If you ever use Facebook, you will know that there are hundreds of games and tests one can take to see what type of dog one is, what would have been one’s Celtic name or what state is the perfect one for you to live in. I took one of those tests this past week and it came back with “Don’t stop believing” being my life song. I scrunched my nose at my android screen, laughed and nodded my head. At that point I, indeed, looked like I belonged in the San Francisco public transportation system (that’s an inside joke).  It was my song! I saw that a fellow Facebook “friend” got Gloria Gaynor’s song “I Will Survive“. And while I like that song and at times I can relate to it, it is not my life song. I will survive puts a focus on surviving and getting through something. While it is empowering to survive, such a focus is still emanating from a negative.

And no, I am not that way. While I have survived much in life from extreme poverty, hunger, couch surfing and my mother’s death from a broken healthcare system, I am not a survivor. I am a believer. I got out of those situations and got into many positive ones, because I believed that I could do more.  I believed that I could. I believe I will.

I have metaphorically taken that midnight train to anywhere.  And I have literally taken that midnight bus (much more affordable for an extremely young girl) to see the stars in the night sky and to catch a once in a lifetime exhibit of paintings of despair (i.e. Guernica). I have moved cross country five times because each time I have believed that I could go onto something grander. Despite all that is wrong with the world, I want to be a believer. I need to believe that success can be achieved.  I need to believe that one can overcome obstacles and challenges.  What fun would it be if everything was super simple and sugary?  It makes for a good cocktail but not necessarily a good life journey.

Surprisingly, the song “Don’t stop believing” was never a number one hit in the United States. on it’s new found fame from the Sopranos it may have climbed back into the top ten at one point. The US has always seemed to be a place of eternal optimism. At least in NY, you know you go there to make it. You go with big dreams and if you make it there you can make it anywhere. Obviously, one cannot just wish away the bad things in life. Obviously, even if one believes that things can and will be better, it does not always happen.  At that point you have to let some things roll off your back and at other times you have to fight like hell. Let me note that being a believer does not necessarily equate with being an optimist.  My definition of being a believer is that one lives to fight another day.  My definition of being a believer is that you don’t go down in self-defeat. You don’t psych yourself out from the outset. Being a believer means you can count on yourself to keep your head in the game. So, yes don’t ever stop believing. Why would you do that to yourself? Other people may stop and others will come and go, but always make sure to be able to count on yourself day in and day out.  And in that respect, I propose that the song “Don’t stop believing” become the official NY song (of course, we still need to keep Sinatra and Billy Joel’s songs as state songs as well).  I will be sure to belt it out with all my might and encourage you all to do so as well.

And what a glorious state of mind to be in!

6 replies »

  1. Those are some wonderful thoughts. And I agree, being a beliver does not automatically make you an optimist. That’s very true! Thanks for sharing this. And btw, I love this song! It’s one of my most favourite songs.

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  2. I love this very catchy and melodically uplifting tune. The lyrics are a bit of mixed bag, though, especially given that the picture it brings to mind for me is seeing (and hearing) Cory Monteith’s and Leah Michelle’s characters singing it on the first season, and maybe even in the first episode, of “Glee”. The opening verse seems to figuratively describe them so well, and their relationship,in real and fictional life ended so tragically,

    Just a small town girl
    Livin’ in a lonely world
    She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere
    Just a city boy
    Born and raised in south Detroit
    He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere

    A singer in a smoky room
    A smell of wine and cheap perfume
    For a smile they can share the night
    It goes on and on, and on, and on

    BUT FROM THIS POINT ON…

    These lyrics for me are an apt description of life as I know it. Don’t Stop Believin for me is a feeling of accepting that life, with its ups and downs and wins and losses, will go on, kind of like my heart but that’s a different and way too schmaltzy song. These lyrics tell me that life is an emotional ride, and that I should continue to discover that range of emotions in every new situation I find – over the hill, at the bottom of the canyon, going through the valley, walking down a shadowed street – while searching perhaps to feel again some of the feelins I may have lost along the way.

    [Chorus]
    Strangers waiting
    Up and down the boulevard
    Their shadows searching in the night
    Streetlights, people
    Living just to find emotion
    Hiding somewhere in the night

    Working hard to get my fill
    Everybody wants a thrill
    Payin’ anything to roll the dice
    Just one more time
    Some will win, some will lose
    Some were born to sing the blues
    Oh, the movie never ends
    It goes on and on, and on, and on

    [Chorus]

    Don’t stop believin’
    Hold on to the feelin’
    Streetlights, people

    I didn’t really know the lyrics until today so thanks for the inspiration. I don’t agree with you that being a believer implies that you never go down in self-defeat, but that you continue to believe you can rise again to a great emotional height.

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