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Watching "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey"
Published on March 17, 2013 by Sara Foss

I'm not going to lie: I don't not consider myself a Journey fan.

But there are some Journey songs I like, such as "Faithfully," and the band has one song that ranks among the best: their 1981 monster hit "Don't Stop Believin,'" which has undergone something of a resurgence in recent years, due to "The Sopranos" and "Glee." And the fact that the song is awesome.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I watched the last episode of "The Sopranos," which uses "Don't Stop Believin'" to great effect in its final scene. I couldn't get the song out of my head, and when I heard that the documentary "Don't Stop Believin': Everyman's Journey" was showing for one night in Albany, I was intrigued. I knew very little about the film, but I was in the mood to learn more about Journey, and so off I went.

"Don't Stop Believin'" tells a great story - a story I'm glad to have been told. It introduces us to Arnel Pineda, a Filipino singer-songwriter who became Journey's lead singer in 2008. How did the band find him? Journey guitarist Neal Schon contacted him after stumbling across YouTube videos of Pineda and his band performing Journey covers. Pineda traveled to the United States from the Phillipines to audition, and the rest is history.

Pineda's story is an unlikely one, but the film makes it clear that Pineda has the presence and pipes to be a star, and that Journey's heart-on-sleeve style of arena rock is a beautiful fit for his talents. Because whatever you think of Journey, Pineda's talent is undeniable. And he's immensely likable - humble, gracious, devoted to his siblings and wife - with a hardscrabble back story that makes you root for him.

Pineda's likability, and the band's amiable presence, carries "Don't Stop Believin'" through its rough patches. The film meanders a bit too much, and skirts over crucial information - I would have liked to hear more about why Steve Perry never returned as frontman, and a little more about Pineda's recovery from addiction. But I found it difficult to be overly critical of such a good-hearted film. There are better movies about rock and roll, but few that are as inspirational.

 

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