Foreigner and Journey: In Their Own Words

Rock songs can be pure lyrical magic, succinct expressions of powerful emotions. These aren't. Still, Journey and Foreigner dealt with some weighty issues in their time, and dealt with them poetically. Here's a brief listener's guide.

"In the morning day, yeah." (Journey, "In the Morning Day")

"Daylight, all right." (Foreigner, "Head Games")

Both bands celebrate the coming of the new day, forgoing eloquence for expressions of simple joy.

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"I'd sing any song your heart desires/I would sing out loud of love's sweet fires." (Journey, "Stay Awhile")

"Got fire in your veins/Burning hot but you don't feel the pain." (Foreigner, "Urgent")

Ardent passion is the subject of both of these lyrics. However, the strategies for inspiring passion could not be more different. Journey opts for a sensitive approach, focusing on wish fulfillment and cleverly intimating that the song being sung may, in fact, be the song the listener's "heart desires." Foreigner figures fire as an intravenous inferno, along the way raising a philosophical paradox that has been articulated by thinkers like David Lewis -- is there such a thing as unfelt pain?

"You're as cold as ice/You're willing to sacrifice our love." (Foreigner, "Cold as Ice")

"Living without you, living alone/ This empty house seems so cold." (Journey, "Open Arms")

Again, Foreigner is accusatory and vaguely paranoid, impugning the integrity of the unseen and unvoiced love-object. Journey, on the other hand, makes a bid for the listener's pity, painting a portrait of a man reduced to oblivion by his misery. (Note how Journey cleverly describes the house as "empty," though the narrator is clearly present.)

"Oh, you got to leave this town before it's... too late/Too late, too late, too late, too late, too late/To make the change." (Journey, "Too Late")

"I left a small town/For an apple in decay." (Foreigner, "Long, Long Way From Home")

Journey, predictably, emphasizes the importance of the journey, lengthening the line with the incessant repetition of "too late" even though that very repetition wastes valuable time that might better be spent leaving and "mak[ing] the change." Foreigner, typically pessimistic, underscores the corruption of the big city.

-- Ben Greenman

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