I thought long and hard about which teen crush I should confess to, since I had quite a few growing up. Yes, I was one of those teen girls who had posters of celebrities covering my walls with not an inch of bare space. In the end though, I decided to share the teen crush I was most obsessed with for the longest time. I’m dating myself and you’re probably going to laugh out loud, but the teen crush I was most ga-ga for back then was none other than Steve Perry of Journey.
It all began one fateful summer day when MTV debuted on our cable TV in New Jersey. Many people don’t realize this, but NJ was ground zero for the launch of MTV on August 1, 1981. The first music video they played was Video Killed the Radio Star by the Buggles. I remember being glued to the TV with my friends and we were in awe. We were at that perfectly ripe age when our interest in music was just beginning. A dozen or so music videos in, and we were hooked.
And one of those videos was a live concert recording of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing with front man Steve Perry belting out the vocals. Now, he’s not ugly or anything, but no one’s going to claim he was ever drop-dead-gorgeous. But there was just something about his spectacular voice that simply spoke to my soul. Yes, I did. I said that. And I meant it. Obviously, since the song has made an incredible revival in recent years, I’m not the only one who feels that way.
From the moment I heard Don’t Stop Believing, my teen life was forever changed. I immediately recorded every one of Journey’s songs off of MTV or the radio. This was the time of the great ‘mixed tape’ and Journey got top billing on all of mine. When I saved up enough money, I finally went out and bought a few of their albums. Suddenly, my walls were covered in Journey posters, with Steve Perry’s face chief among them. Every morning, I woke up and blasted Don’t Stop Believing on my boom box. And every morning my father would yell upstairs, “Turn that shit down!” When I finally got to see Journey in concert, I lost my voice and gave myself the headache of the century screaming my lungs out. Their music got me through many rough patches in my teen years.
In fact, Don't Stop Believing and Steve Perry even landed me one of my first boyfriends in high school. How, you might ask? Well, I’ll give you the short version. One day while rushing to class, I literally bumped into this cute boy. Our books and papers went flying. As we gathered up our things from the floor, I noticed he had Journey lyrics and logos written all over his notebooks, just like me. And he had scribbles of writing and poetry on scraps of paper, just like me. Out of embarrassment he tried to hide his, and I tried to hide mine, but we both knew what we had seen. Later, ‘the music man’ and I started talking about our mutual love of Journey and writing, and the rest as they say, is history.
Yes, for the next few years, I was more than a little obsessed with Steve Perry, Journey and my 'music man'. But it was a fun and harmless obsession that still makes me smile every time I here that song.