South Detroit, Michigan

Don't Stop Believin' by Journey

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Just a city boy
Born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train
Goin' anywhere Read full Lyrics
Some songs are just so iconic, they touch everybody at the same time. Journey's good at that. Don't Stop Believin' is a song anybody can identify with. If you've found your love, your lover and you know the truth of this song. If you haven't yet, it gives you hope for tomorrow. It is the very definition of a power ballad.

Over 27 years after it was released, it's iTunes' most-downloaded 20th-century song. VH1's Greatest Songs of the '80s ranked it #11. It charted in the US at #9 and the UK at #62, Billboard Hot 100 chart at #9, and Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart at #8.

This song is so popular, it's practically a cottage industry. Films and TV shows which count "Don't Stop Believin'" as part of the soundtrack include: The Wedding Singer, Family Guy, Monster, South Park, Shrek the Halls, Bedtime Stories, Yes, Dear, King of the Hill, The Comebacks, View from the Top, Cold Case, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, My Name Is Earl, Just Shoot Me, Laguna Beach, American Idol, Scrubs, The Sopranos, and Glee.

It was that Sopranos appearance that sparked renewed interest in the song, using it as the ending note for their series' finale. Being a TV show about gangsters, song composer Steve Perry was understandably apprehensive about how the song would be used in the show. The writers of Sopranos had to reassure him how the ending would happen, and then they had to swear him to secrecy about it. Probably on fear of Tony pistol-whipping him.

"South Detroit" is really the Detroit River, as seen here with the skyline in the background
Photo: Winstonyarde, Dreamstime

Detroit sports teams love this song, of course. Let's backtrack for a moment: Detroit is in Michigan, a state that has been hit with hard times due to the loss of American industry. Once the mecca of the auto industry and one of the most successful states in the Rustbelt, its economic decline has been documented in such works as Michael Moore's Roger & Me, focusing on Flint, Michigan. So, it stands to reason that Detroit could use a hopeful ballad like this. In fact, sports teams the world over seem to love it; it has been played at the 2008 National Hurling Championship in Ireland, the pregame show for Super Bowl XLIII, the 2006 World Series at Comerica Park, and many others.

Where else can you play it? At weddings. On the road. At work with half an hour left to go. It's the mashed potatoes of rock ballads - it goes with everything! It's a dessert-topping and a floor wax!

Ironically, "South Detroit" really doesn't make much sense. Detroit distinguishes between East Side and West Side only. "South" might be more of a general designation, or down-river. Note on a map that if you go too far south from Detroit, you end up in Canada. They couldn't mean that, could they?

Pete Trbovich
March 11, 2010
Don't Stop Believin' Songfacts
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Comments: 6

  • Dan from WindsorSouth Detroit is what Windsor Ontaio is referred to as. They are located directly south of Detroit and just across the river. Many people from Windsor work in Detroit and Detroiters work in Windsor. It is a 15 minute trip, when customs are running good. On a weekend Windsor is home to hundreds of Detroiters coming to play. There is no real south Detroit. City Halls designate the centre of a city. Detroit City Hall is about 300 yards from the river. Technically, that strip is south Detroit. Windsor is about a mile away, directly south of Detroit City Hall. Windsor is closer to Detroit City Hall than most of Detroit is.
  • Ella from PaThis is my favorite song i played it for my friends one time and they are in love with it highly recommend this song but right now im doing a project on it and this website isn’t giving me the facts im looking for
  • Peter from New YorkThis page should be updated, including: Yogi Bear (2010), Rock of Ages (2012), Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013, Official Trailers 1 & 2), The Muppets (ABC Series), Nissan New Tricks Commercial, Smallfoot (2018, Official Trailer 1).
  • Kariann from Detroit, MiI'll never tire of this song as it is associated with so many good memories. Steve Perry's voice is amazing. Love this song...
  • Beverly from Vancouver, BcHaving a family in the early 80's meant Sesame Street,not radio, and I actually missed Journey. Only this year did I discover this incredible song, which has carried me through some rough times. Thanks Journey, and Steve.
  • Gerhart from Albany, NyGood to see the map on this one, which explains a lot. Steve Perry was obviously more concerned about how his lyrics would scan than staying true to his geography.
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