Tag Archives: Layne Anderson

Why I Hate Journey (the band)

I get asked this question all the time, so I think it’s important for me to finally come clean and set the record straight: why do I hate the band Journey so much?

‘Cause they fuckin’ suck, dude.

Okay no but seriously, there’s actually a number of legitimate reasons for this. And it’s not their entire catalog (that lick from “Anyway You Want It” is pretty good, even if the song goes on too long), so I don’t hate the band themselves per se. It’s mostly “Don’t Stop Believin’.” And it’s not just because I’m trying to be contrary or anything — there are plenty of other equally popular pop songs that I do enjoy with no shame at all. In my mind, “Don’t Stop Believin'” is the most hackneyed, cliched, and derivative anthemic pop/rock song of all time, like someone mashed the parts of every other rock anthem into a calculator, stripped out the emotions, found the mathematical mean, and then put it on the radio. It doesn’t help that people ascribe way too much personal meaning (in my humble opinion) to the song when they’re shitfaced at last call and screaming out nonsense about “Streetlight People,” whatever the hell that means. The lyrics are generic meaningless drivel disguised (very poorly, I might add) as poetry, when in fact, they say nothing at all. Nothing but, “Don’t Stop Believin'” which sure, okay, fine, that’s a good message. I guess. But does it actually mean anything?

My good friend Layne was also a huge Journey fan, and this served as a major point of contention throughout the entire tenure of our friendship. Still, as a friend, I was always willing to overlook her shortcomings. We all have flaws, we all make mistakes. Hers was Journey (to say nothing of her N*SYNC obsession, which I was totally okay with).

Layne passed away a few days after her birthday in April, 2011. It was about 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday and I had just finished speaking at an event at Emerson College, our alma mater, so I slipped into Sweetwater Tavern for a beer with a few other alumni friends. I received a phone call from our friend Eric, who was always particularly close to Layne. I stepped outside so I could hear him better, and that’s when he delivered the news.

I went back into the bar and sat at the table with my other friends, the color drained from my face. They asked what was wrong and I told them, insisting that we keep drinking and not really talk about it right now, because I was still processing it. I slammed back the rest of my beer, and I realized that “Don’t Stop Believin'” was playing over the speakers in the bar. For a brief moment, I swear I could have seen Layne’s ghostly visage sticking her tongue out at me and waving her fingers, teasing and taunting as if to say “Gotcha, motherfucker! I win!” (which, to be fair, is something she would totally do, especially in a posthumous state).

So that’s why I don’t like Journey. Plus, you know, they suck.

Electric Lights

The selfish unawareness
of a window painted blue,
and electric lights that won’t reflect
but sound so clearly overdue.

It permeates the smell of sanitation
and of jaundice under skin that
has been peeled away by saline
soldiers crawling on their knees
across a bridge of gathered lives;
maybe this time,

she’ll sound so
much better in this sweater than this dress
that leaves her back exposed
so all the coldest air can make a nest.

All the stabbing, all the dripping,
all the fevers and the cries, and the
poorly picked out tiles on the wall
have watched a million maidens die
underneath electric lights.

She’s so
mixed up like metaphors;
it’s better for her. So
when all the shallow echoes
fall and settle in her cheeks,
she’s still demanding
all that I can V.

Shark Grief

Stop and sink,
so just keep swimming;
always keep your fin up.

(Rest in Peace, Mama Cooter)