Ah, threw you there, didn't I? Nothing against Journey but I much prefer the Petra (no, not that Petra) version, though I'll admit this is probably a familiarity-breeds-contempt inclination. Plus, she does this thing a cappella in a manner similar to Todd Rundgren's A Cappella, overdubbing her voice in all the instrumental parts (except, I think, for the drum track). I don't watch Glee but I hear they stole this version note-for-note, as they've been known to do to other artists. If you're into it, Haden also does the entire The Who Sell Out using the same aesthetic.

The song itself has a deceptive loneliness that belies, or at least balances, its singalong refrain. Granted, it's a brand of loneliness and despair that's peculiarly American, nursed by Geoffrey Hopper paintings and anchor chain/plane motor/train whistle escape mythology. These two things, solitude and leaving, are probably the two tropes running most represents and nurses in me.

But you don't have to subscribe to my obsessions to get this song. Just ask the millions of people who have sung it karaoke, usually in large groups (writer/editor Ross McMeekin led probably 200 people in a rousing rendition one summer at Vermont College of Fine Arts that still haunts me). Honestly, when I'm running I don't hear any of the verses, just that refrain, those ascending chords, that scorching guitar (er, vocal) solo. I haven't stopped believing yet.

AuthorJohn Proctor