Journey: Don't Stop Believin' Meaning
Song Released: 1981
Covered By: Glee Cast
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Don't Stop Believin' Lyrics
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 smokey room
The smell of wine and cheap...
This song is about loneliness and the search for true emotions. The main message seems to be ultimately positive, exhorting the listener to not give up on finding true love, thereby escaping loneliness.
The song starts with two nameless characters, the archetypal boy and girl, who despite being from different backgrounds (ie, small town vs. city), are both willing to jump on a train going anywhere in order to escape their lonely homes. In the second verse, the boy and girl end up in a cheap bar, where they meet and potentially find a respite from their loneliness in each other. (Reminds me of the lyrics from Piano Man "they're sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it's better than drinking alone".)
The song then zoom out to a panoramic view, and you see the city in all its loneliness. Here the singer focuses on the paradox of modern city life: that of people being desperately lonely even as they are surrounded by others. Hence the image of strangers searching for something -- searching for emotions, for connections -- along city streets at night. Even the image of streetlights, which render the cityscape as isolated islands of light in a dark and gloomy matrix, fits into this utterly depressing view of urban life.
The song then moves to the singer's point of view. The singer also suffers from this feeling of missing something. He works hard and has enough money, but he still feels he's short of something in his life: real emotions, which he tries to get by buying thrills. The lyrics uses the metaphor of gambling and movies, but given the context of the preceding two sections, I think he is referring generally to the sybaritic but empty lifestyle of city nightlife.
Unless you interpret it ironically, the title refrain "don't stop believing" provides an ultimately positive message in this otherwise very dark song. The refrain is an exhortation to not give up on the hope of extinguishing your loneliness by finding that true connection with another human being, like the boy and girl of the first section.
This song is anything and everything you want it to be. How you meet this song may shape how you interpret it, for me it's about two people finding that missing piece of jigsaw they've been looking for for what seems like forever - it's the perfect shape, colour and size and fits perfectly between them. It's about amazing chemistry, for a short time only or maybe forever, when it's right no words are needed a simple glance says it all - whatever your story don't stop believing.
anonymous Jul 29th 2010 report
anonymous Nov 15th 2009 report
i really just think its about not giving up on something you want. "some will win some will lose" even if you lose one just keep trying.
anonymous Oct 22nd 2009 report
Every young person has a dream and sometimes where you grow up isn't where you're destined to be. -Jonathan Cain
anonymous Oct 8th 2009 report
First, I don't think it's about hookers. :)
It's about living life and finding true love in the city. Perry's talking about our simple city life: we work hard, we take a chance on finding love, we bear the disappointments - and we don't stop believing.
How many of us have gone out night after night, jaded by a singer in a smokey room, enduring the wine and cheap perfume, rolling those dice, searching, hoping for that true one, only to end up alone under the streetlights thinking that some win and some lose, and perhaps you're the one born to sing the blues?
And The City? It doesn't care. It has no 'happily ever after.' for us. It's a movie that'll never end; it just goes on and on.
Walking alone under those street lights, our shadows searching in the night, it does feel like we're living just to find emotion. There really is no other reason to go on. It's love - or nothing. And in the city, we barely believe we can find it. We can barely hold on to that feeling.
Perry offers us a small comfort:
Don't stop believing.
Hold on to that feeling.
So, streetlight people, you lonely city-boys and small-town girls: you would have never met if not for the city, if not for that urge to take that midnight train to anywhere. Sure it seems like you met just looking for a thrill, giving those easy smiles, perhaps sharing the night, but it's okay - you were just searching for that feeling. Don't fret. Just remember,
Don't stop believing
Hold on to that feeling
Streetlight people, hold on...
anonymous Sep 19th 2009 report
Two persons run away from home to search for happiness in life - a smalltown girl and a city boy. The city boy eventually buys a prostitute - the small town girl.
We can draw the conclusion that they have both miserably failed in their quest (but may have found faked love)
It is an awful truth, beautifully accompanied to the electric riff at "Workin' hard to get my fill..."
They (and all street people) are in the end encouraged to don't stop believing, and hold on to that feeling, though.
anonymous Sep 3rd 2009 report
This song is about how people go through their lives in good and in bad- and how even people who only work in the streetlight- and among prostitutes and gamblers- can still find love and hope- so they shouldn't stop believing
anonymous Jul 2nd 2009 report
Its definitely about two bums falling in love.
anonymous Jun 13th 2009 report
It's about neal schon wanting to give up playing guitar and music altogether. His dad, unrelentless, re-inspired his son Neal to keep playing and 'don't stop believing' in your talent and your passion.....true story
anonymous Jun 8th 2009 report
Steve Perry's inspiration for "Don't Stop Believing" came from the observations he made during Journey's Escape tour, from his hotel balcony in downtown Detroit at 2:00 in the morning. Too hyped up after a show to sleep, Steve looked down and watched the activity below. The city was quiet, yet people were out in the streets; like a man on the corner, a group of young men throwing something back and forth, echoes of conversation piercing the still post-midnight air. Steve later told his band mate Jonathan Cain that he saw those in the streets at that hour as "Streetlight People"
anonymous Jun 5th 2009 report
I’m pretty sure this is about prostitution. If you think about the lyrics they say “the smell of wine and cheap perfume. For a smile they can share the night it goes on and on and on and on”. Well you would assume that prostitutes don’t wear expensive perfume. Also if you were to walk up to a hooker and smile then that’s basically all you need to have her come with you. Also they say it goes on and on because once a hooker becomes a hooker then they usually stay that way. Also they mention strangers waiting up and down the road. That means that the hookers are standing along the road and you don’t know them.
This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
anonymous Jan 8th 2009 report
I personally find this song to be EXTREMELY uplifting and inspirational. I believe that the message behind the song is exectly what the title says, and something that we all have to remember: No matter how bad things may get, DON'T. STOP. BELIEVING.
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