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Steve Perry Reveals Origin of ‘South Detroit’ in ‘Don’t Stop Believin” [AUDIO]

Columbia Records

South Detroit? There’s no such place! (Go ahead, sing along with the song clip.)

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“…Just a city boy…born and raised in ‘South Detroit’…”

Journey’s then-lead singer Steve Perry recently revealed the origin of the fictitious Michigan reference in Journey’s 1981 hit “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Perry told “New York Magazine” that the lyrics came to him while staying in a Detroit-area hotel in 1980, when the band was on tour. ‘South Detroit’ was simply poetic license:

“I was digging the idea of how the lights were facing down so that you couldn’t see anything,” he said as he recalled looking out a hotel room window at 2 a.m. “All of a sudden I’d see people walking out of the dark, and into the light. And the term ‘streetlight people’ came to me. So Detroit was very much in my consciousness when we started writing.” (The song includes the line: “Streetlight people/ Living just to find emotion/ Hiding somewhere in the night.”

“I ran the phonetics of east, west, and north, but nothing sounded as good or emotionally true to me as South Detroit,” Perry said. “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.”

[Detroit Free Press]

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