The series finale of The Sopranos included the song “Don’t Stop Believin'” because the crew had quite a negative reaction to it. The HBO crime drama, created by David Chase, ran for six seasons starting in 1999, starring James Gandolfini’s Tony Soprano as a depressed mobster attending therapy. The series also starred Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, Dominic Chianese, Steven Van Zandt, and Tony Sirico. The Sopranos is widely regarded as one of the best television series in history, winning multiple awards for Gandolfini, Falco, and the show itself for Chase.
The series continues to be discovered by newer audiences and remains one of the most talked-about shows ever, namely because of its speculative series finale in 2007, which ended abruptly by immediately cutting to black, leaving the audience uncertain about the fate of Tony and his family. In the final scene, Tony is sitting at a booth in a diner and while waiting for his family, he tries to pick a song from the jukebox. Once the 1981 Journey song plays, his family starts coming in one by one, while there are shots of people looking at them, with one particular man keeping his eye on Tony.
Per IndieWire, it was recently revealed by Chase in an interview on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast how the rock song came to fruition in The Sopranos‘ series finale. When figuring out what the song was going to be during the selection process, Chase narrowed it down to a few options, including Al Green’s “Love and Happiness.” When discussing it with his crew, they had an impassioned reaction to “Don’t Stop Belevin'” that he did not expect, which shifted his consideration. He then explains that he chose the song simply because it got a reaction. Read more on what Chase said about the song choice below:
“I didn’t know Journey was the answer. In pre-production [for the final season], there was going to be a song at the end [Tony] was going to play in the jukebox. I was in the scout van with the department heads…and I had never done this before. I said, ‘Listen, I’m going to talk about three songs that I am thinking about for ending the show.’ They went, ‘Oh, Jesus Christ, no. Don’t do that! Ugh. Fuck.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s it. That’s the one.’ 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.”
“Don’t Stop Believin'” is now forever associated with The Sopranos, which ended immediately right as the song ended when Tony looks up at the entrance as his daughter walks in, just moments after the man who has been eyeing him walks to the bathroom. Many fans took that as a sign that Tony was killed, but it was not confirmed at the time, leading to much discussion years afterwards. It is humorous to find out the backstory of how the song was officially chosen, but of course Chase definitely had other reasons that were creative and important to the message of the show, especially since it was the series finale of one of the best television series at the time.
Regardless of the reason, the fact that more than a decade later, many are are still talking about the finale, shines a light on the impact of The Sopranos and how many people admire the series. Fans can also look forward to the upcoming prequel movie, The Many Saints of Newark, on October 1, which is written by Chase and explores the reign of the DiMeo crime family and the rise of Tony Soprano as he is led by his gangster uncle, Dickie Moltisanti. Overall, The Sopranos has left an indelible mark on television history and many will continue to be intrigued by anything that correlates with the making of the show.