The Sopranos showrunner David Chase revealed that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” hadn’t been a clear first choice to play over the drama’s infamous closing scene – and he only chose it because his crew told him not to.
In one of the most controversial moments in TV history (below), gangster Tony Soprano selects the ‘80s classic from a diner jukebox while he waits for members of his family to join him. As everything appears to be business as usual, he looks up in response to the door bell signaling someone has entered, and the screen goes black.
Since its first broadcast in 2007 – after viewers had been assured that the sudden ending hadn’t been a broadcast error – speculation remained rife over what Chase had meant. In 2019 he appeared to confirm that Soprano had been executed by referring to the moment as “that death scene,” although he backtracked later in the conversation, saying the idea was to suggest that Soprano “could have been whacked.”
In a recent episode of the Talking Sopranos podcast (also below), Chase was asked about his decision to use “Don’t Stop Believin’” as a musical backdrop to the scene. He said he’d had a shortlist of three songs, and while he couldn’t remember the first, the second was Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.” While traveling in a van with members of his production crew, he asked them what they thought. “The third one was ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ and everyone was [like], ‘Oh, Jesus Christ, no!’ – it got a reaction! And I had always – I shouldn’t say it, but – I had always considered that song a guilty pleasure; I always liked that song. But other people think it’s, I don’t know, a corny ‘80s tune.”
Chase also discussed the including of Bob Dylan’s “It’s Alright Ma, I’m Only Bleeding” elsewhere in the final episode. “What a masterpiece that song is. My God! It’s more relevant now than it was then,” he reflected, adding of Dylan: “That guy, I just can’t believe that. I’ve been thinking about him a lot recently… I liked doing that scene.”
‘The Sopranos’ – Final Scene
‘Talking Sopranos’ – David Chase Interview