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Stop believing! Perry admits there's no 'South Detroit'

Journey took the midnight train going anywhere.But not to South Detroit.
Journey took the midnight train going anywhere.But not to South Detroit.AP

Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" has been everywhere in recent years -- including on "The Sopranos" finale and on the show "Glee."  But New York Magazine's Vulture column decided to delve into a glaring mistake in the second line.

You know the words. Steve Perry belts it out beautifully: "Just a city boy, born and raised in SOUTH DETROIT!"

But as Vulture points out, there's no area called "South Detroit." The southern portion of Detroit is called downtown and south of downtown is ... Canada.

Vulture points out that the song could refer to the area known as "Downriver," but argue that this area was rural when Journey wrote its song, and thus a "city boy" wasn't going to be raised there.

We'll leave the intricacies of Motor City geography to natives, but Vulture went right to the source and called Steve Perry in San Diego. Unsurprisingly, the exact details of geography weren't top of mind when Perry was writing the song in 1980.

"I ran the phonetics of east, west, and north, but nothing sounded as good or emotionally true to me as South Detroit," he told the reporter. "It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve learned that there is no South Detroit. But it doesn't matter."

The singer said he was inspired to write the song while he actually was in Detroit on tour, looking out his hotel window.

“All of a sudden I’d see people walking out of the dark, and into the light," Perry told the reporter. "And the term ‘streetlight people’ came to me. So Detroit was very much in my consciousness when we started writing.”

Perry's far from the only songwriter to take geographic license. A few of our favorites:

  • "New York to East California, there's a new wave comin' I warn ya."  --Kim Wilde, "Kids in America" (East California?)
  • "Daddy was a cop, on the East Side of Chicago." --Paper Lace, "The Night Chicago Died" (Would Chicago's East Side be Lake Michigan? One commenter on the Vulture blog argues that east of the Calumet River is whar's referred to here.)
  • "Coast to coast, L.A. to Chicago."  --Sade, "Smooth Operator."

Take the midnight train going to Facebook and tell us your favorite song lyric error.

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