Steve Perry Explains Lyrics To “Don’t Stop Believin”

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(Photo by Ana Elisa Fuentes/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ana Elisa Fuentes/Getty Images)

Don’t Stop Believin” by [lastfm link_type="artist_info"]Journey[/lastfm] is one of those songs that you just can’t help but sing along to, even though the song has an error in it. “Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit.

If you are from the metro Detroit area, you know there is no such place as South Detroit. Thanks to an interview with original Journey front man, Steve Perry, however, we now know why he picked the false location.

In an interview with New York Magazine’s Vulture, Steve Perry revealed the process in writing their smash hit. He came up with the lyrics one morning in May of 1980. The band was in Detroit during their Departure tour. He told Vulture he was unable to sleep, stood staring out of his hotel room window at 2 a.m.

I was digging the idea of how the lights were facing down, so that you couldn’t see anything,” he says, recalling the night. “All of a sudden I’d see people walking out of the dark, and into the light. And the term ‘streelight people’ came to me. So Detroit was very much in my consciousness when we started writing.

As for the fictional South Detroit line, Perry claimed ignorance and poetic license.

I ran the phonetics of east, west, and north, but nothing sounded as good or emotionally true to me as South Detroit,” he says. “The syntax just sounded right. I fell in love with the line. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned that there is no South Detroit. But it doesn’t matter.


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