To say that Coastal Georgia has grown since we bought our home here almost 20 years ago is a big understatement. While greater Savannah still has that “old South charm”, evidence of change is all around us – inward investment and new industries, massive construction projects, and lots of population growth, especially here in Bryan County. One of the really excellent new features of our area is the new Enmarket Arena, which in turn brings professional ice hockey and big name bands to our doorstep.
Which leads me to our experience last week. I am a devoted fan of 1980s rock music and find it interesting to see how much the UK and USA have in common during this musical era. I was therefore very excited when my husband surprised me at Christmas with the gift of tickets for last week’s concert – Journey and Toto on tour!
My highlight had to be when Journey played Don’t Stop Believin. This song really brought back memories of being a school girl in England and hearing this for the first time. A friend of mine had been to Texas for Christmas 1981, which seemed a very glamorous and unusual trip back then. She brought back a cassette tape (remember those?) of Journey’s album Escape which featured this song. My friends and I all loved it and could not understand why this great song only reached number 62 in the UK single charts. The things that young teenagers worry about!
The story of the song is pretty inspiring as keyboard player Jonathan Cain, still playing last week at the age of 72, was the brainchild behind this hit. Before he joined Journey, Cain was struggling financially. His father always told him ‘don’t stop believing’ and lent the then broke musician money to pay his bills. Cain sat down to write this song in 1981 with former lead singer Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon, who at 68 is still performing and is the only original band member to remain throughout the group’s history. Don’t Stop Believin had a revival when it was played as the screen went black as the TV show The Sopranos ended in 2007, enjoying another big run in the charts decades after it was first released. It even became a top 10 hit in the UK at this time, so 26 years later my girlfriends and I were vindicated.
Last week’s Journey concert was great but I wished that I had seen the band during the time of original lead vocalist Steve Perry. The current lead singer, 55 year old Filipino Arnel Pineda who does sound very much like Perry, was discovered via a YouTube video in 2007. Apparently, he first thought that the job offer to be lead singer with Journey was a joke so did not respond for six weeks!
Toto, the opening act, was a bit more authentic. I loved seeing them perform their iconic hit, Africa. I also had a pretty good time singing along to Hold The Line, Rosanna and other hits but Africa was a true highlight for me. Original band members 65-year-old Steve Lukather and 68-year-old David Paich were still going strong and appeared energetic and enthusiastic at last week’s concert. Toto was founded in 1977 and has released 14 studio albums. Their 1982 album Toto IV featuring Africa really marked their global success. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US, the band’s only Billboard number one, and also peaked in the top ten in the United Kingdom, Ireland, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland.
While some are critical, I like the trend of keeping iconic bands going, and I think it demonstrates some of that good ol’ American spirit. In the past few years we have seen the Rolling Stones, the Eagles, Foreigner, Journey and other 1980s bands in concert that have brought in younger singers and musicians over the years as needed to keep the franchise going….as well as the income generating opportunities, of course. This, combined with the baby boomer generation’s determination to keep working if they enjoy it and reinvent how to live in later life, seems bold and quintessentially American to me.
I will leave you with a quote from all the way back in the mid-19th Century by philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, which no doubt inspired the name of a great rock band a hundred years later: “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey!”
God Bless America and 1980s rock bands!
– ENDS –