Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” was released as a single on January 5, 1983, from their album Frontiers. It reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six consecutive weeks, and spent four weeks at the top of the Top Tracks chart.
The band shot its first concept video to accompany the song on MTV. For a variety of reasons, the experience was difficult, and critics gave mixed reviews.
Background and writing
In 1982, while on the Escape tour, the song was written and composed. Neither the exact date nor the first time it was performed live can be determined. According to some sources, Steve Perry performed the song at the Day on the Green concert in 1982, telling the crowd: “We just wrote this song about two weeks ago.”
Nevertheless, bootleg recordings exist of performances at least a month earlier at Chicago’s Rosemont Horizon, where Perry also claimed the song was two weeks old. Guitarist Neal Schon, in an interview from 2008, recalled how the song was first played live:
It doesn’t matter where we put this song because it has always had a strong effect on the audience, all the way back to the first time we played it—before it was even recorded. It was written on tour and we threw it in the set to see how it would go down. The audience had an amazing reaction to it without even knowing what it was.
As Andy Secher reported in his article “Adventures in Frontierland” published in the June 1983 issue of Hit Parader Magazine, “Usually we don’t write songs that far in advance of an album.”. “But on that occasion, Steve [Perry] and I were just working an idea backstage and it all came together. He was working on a bass and I had a guitar, and we just worked out the melody that night and the lyrics the next afternoon. Sometimes you can get lucky and have a song fall together like that.”
‘Separate Ways’ was, like many of the band’s songs, a mix of Motown and R&B and blues, said Schon. It has a heavier guitar sound than an R&B song, but I think that’s what makes it sound like Journey.” The same was said by Cain in 1983:
We wanted to write something rhythmic and still have a strong and haunting melody. We needed a main rhythm to run through the synthesizer and Steve Smith designed that kind of drum beat to let everything breathe. It’s really a throwback to all of our roots and the Motown sound. Steve [Perry] has always listened to a lot of Motown records, songs with a strong chorus approach. Songs that were real urgent sounding, but still had rhythm and melody.”
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