In a chat with Marc Maron on his WTF with Marc Maron podcast, Sopranos creator David Chase explained how Journey ended up soundtracking the show’s controversial finale — and how the rest of his team loathed the idea of using that song.
As you may remember, in the finale, James Gandolfini‘s Tony Soprano and his family members sit down for dinner at a diner, and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” starts playing on a jukebox — before the entire scene, and the song, cut to black.
While Chase wasn’t re-litigating what the vague ending means — spoiler alert: he apparently once accidentally called it Tony’s “death scene” — he did talk about what went into choosing that song.
Discussing the topic with members of his crew at the time, Chase said he was left with three choices — Al Green‘s “Love and Happiness,” another song which he can’t remember, and the Journey song.
When he mentioned “Don’t Stop Believin’,” Chase recalled, “[T]hey went, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ, no. Don’t do that! Ugh. F***.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s it. That’s the one.'”
Chase explained, “I wasn’t saying that just to throw it in their face. That was kind of my favorite, and it got a reaction of some kind. So I can make this song lovable, which it had been.”
Of course, the song’s inclusion in the 2007 finale sent downloads soaring, and the renewed interest in Journey motivated the band to find a new lead singer, Arnel Pineda, and get back on the road. The song remains the best-selling digital song that was recorded in the pre-digital era.
The Sopranos prequel, Chase’s The Many Saints of Newark, starring Gandolfini’s son Michael as a young Tony Soprano, hits theaters and HBO Max on October 1.
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