June 10, 2007 is a day that fans of the cable series “The Sopranos” will never forget. That day represents the end of the super successful mob series. There has been so much written about the success of the series: the location, the series’ stars, and the premise of showing a mobster getting psychological help. But when the show ended, the inclusion and focus on “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, new questions and suppositions surfaced.
Journey’s mega hit before “The Sopranos”
“Don’t Stop Believin'” was a hit before it was used to end the “The Sopranos.” The song was the second release from the group’s album, “Escape.” “Escape” is the group’s seventh album. “Don’t Stop Believin'” entered the charts at No. 56. Eventually, the song made it all the way to No. 9, and remained on the Billboard 100 for 16 weeks.
But, “Don’t Stop Believin'” was not Journey’s first hit. “Lights,” (1978) and “Lovin,’ Touchin,’ Squeezin'” (1979) had helped make the band’s sound known to worldwide audiences.
Journey, a rock band from San Francisco had developed an entire cadre of fans who were familiar with their songs and the meaning of them long before 2007.
“The Sopranos”: a new kind of mob saga
Though fictional, the realistic feel and sound of The Sopranos made the show seem like a sort of documentary. Reportedly, actual mafia members would argue about whether the show was based on them. The show aired from 1999 until 2007.
Every week, viewers got up-close and personal looks at the Soprano clan and everyone they interacted with. Sometimes, members of the family could get what they want by invoking the name of patriarch, Tony Soprano (played by the late James Gandolfini) and sometimes life could be difficult because of the infamous last name. Tony’s two children, AJ (Anthony Junior) and Meadow, saw the influence of their father in different ways. While AJ was likely to exploit it, Meadow was unimpressed and seemed to want the family to pretend they were just upper-middle class. Or so it seems. The show last aired 14 years ago. This anniversary might be a reason to re-watch at least the last season.
The role “Don’t Stop Believin'” had in the show was at the end of the last episode. After getting his family safely removed from the family home in the midst of a war with the New York faction, Tony meets up with his wife and kids at a diner. At some point, one of the Sopranos started the jukebox. Throughout the series, Tony made it known that he was a classic rock fan. The inclusion of a Journey hit did not surprise longtime viewers. However, the song ends, and the screen goes black, after the Sopranos have been watching the door to the diner.
Speculation resulted: Tony was killed, that was why the screen had to go black. Or, all the Sopranos were killed, and that was why the screen went black, or Tony killed someone. Less popular ideas included the screen going black just to signal the end of the show. (Now there are rumors of a “Sopranos” movie with Gandolfini’s real-life son playing the young Tony Soprano. Fans are excited, but still disappointed.)
The message of “Don’t Stop Believin'” as used in “The Sopranos” could be that fans should continue to “believe” in the show and the story it told. The message could also be that people should understand that the mafia still exists, although it might look different from its early 1900’s version. Or, perhaps there was no message. “Don’t Stop Believin'” was simply a song that represented Tony’s youth and audiences should reflect on how young he was when he became involved in the family business.
Some people are still questioning why the show had to end. But according to express.co.uk, and anyone who has watched “The Sopranos” closely, eight years was long enough. Express.co.uk also claims that the characters were taking their toll on the actors. The gory shootouts with the New York faction that marked the end of the series, saw the decimation of both crews, Tony’s and those of his enemies. Realistically, would it have taken long for revenge killings to ensue? Probably not. But based on what audiences knew of the story and the characters, that era was over.
Among diehard fans, “Don’t Stop Believin'” evokes memory of a show that changed audiences’ expectations about a cable drama. “The Sopranos” is available for streaming on HBOMax and Hulu.