Songwriters: Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry
Original Release: Trial by Fire
Year: 1996, although this song wasn’t released in the U.S. officially until 2006
Definitive Version: None
I can’t remember why I was in Cincinnati when I was exposed to this song, but if the date on the file is any indication, it would have been in February 2006 when it came time for me to buy a new notebook computer.
My old clamshell iBook, which had been with me through thick or thin, was hopelessly out of date. The biggest problem aside from a battery that couldn’t hold a charge anymore was its lack of Wi-Fi capability—an absolute prerequisite, particularly if you’re looking for a job and need to be online all of the time.
Because this was when I was still living off my savings accumulated from my days at the Dispatch, which were dwindling fast, every penny counted. The Happy Honda still got great mileage even though it was 15 years old, so it was literally worth it to drive to Cincinnati and buy my computer in Ohio and pay 4 percentage points less in sales tax on a $900 purchase.
Besides, I didn’t mind hanging out with Scott and my niece Leah anyway. I’m sure I had met John before then, but he was only 6 months old, so some quality bonding time was in order there, too. As it would turn out, Dad also was in Cincy—my guess is for a hockey game of Casey’s, but I don’t remember now precisely why.
That dad was there was important, because when we all went to the Apple store in a nearby mall to get my new computer—I had a gift card from Christmas that would further cut expenses—I was denied credit. That was the first and only time in my life I’ve ever been so denied; I’ve always paid my debts and been an A+ credit risk, but I guess putting down freelance writer as my vocation was a red flag.
And it wasn’t as though I didn’t have the money. I had the $900, and this was a necessary purchase for my work, so I was willing to part with it. But I wanted the credit line, because I’d have 90 days same as cash, and when money’s tight, being able to spread out no-interest payments is helpful. No dice.
But I was lucky: I brought with me the Bank of Dad. My credit there was excellent—not the least of which because I had paid off a car loan from Bank of Dad in full and ahead of time. So, rather than me just whipping out the credit card, he put my new computer on his, and I would pay him back under the same terms as the car. Done. It worked out the same, but it was embarrassing nonetheless to have to rely on your dad bailing you out financially when you’re 41.
When we get the computer home, I was geeked to get up and running, but I had trouble booting it up, even with the power cord plugged in. Great, I got a Lemon instead of an Apple. Scott thought I was being hasty and figured I should charge it up fully and try it then, but I knew a bad Apple when I saw it. It should work right away, period.
Sure enough, it never booted except off the disk and then it would never go to sleep. So, the next day, we were back at the mall. I fretted that it would work perfectly for the customer-service guy, but luck was with me in that he had exactly the same trouble as I experienced.
At first, the guy was going to fill out a repair form, but I wasn’t to be placated thusly. I just bought this here in this store yesterday (and here’s the receipt). I want a new computer, period. Finally, he agreed that that made the most sense, and the new computer worked properly right away. (What did I say?) And it’s still in great working condition under Laurie’s watchful eye.
Anyway, that night in Cincy, Scott, Leah and I went over to the nearby Skyline to get some carryout for dinner. While we were in the drive-thru lane, this song came on Scott’s iPod. It wasn’t familiar with it, but it sounded exactly like old Journey. I asked if that was the new singer, and Scott said no, It was Steve Perry, and he told me it was from their short-lived reunion in 1996. It sounds good, but times change, don’t they?
Journey, of course, was everywhere from 1982 to 1984—on the radio, on MTV on my record player, on Beth’s record player. To me, old Journey is the soundtrack of first love, of quiet nights, tender embraces and soft kisses. New Journey is the sound of a five-way heavy spaget and a Blue Light to wash it down.
Somehow, that makes sense.