Why Journey Performed ‘Separate Ways’ Long Before Recording

One of Trip‘s most famous songs came together in less than 48 hours.

Published Jan. 5, 1983, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” was a powerhouse track that immediately resonated with listeners. The song was written on the road as Journey, still riding high on the success of their 1981 album Escapefound himself playing to thousands of passionate fans on a nightly basis.

Despite their popularity, all was not well in the band. Two of Journey’s members, guitarist Neal Schon and bassist Ross Valory, were going through messy divorces at the time. Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain experienced how the respective breakups affected their bandmates and sought to draw creative inspiration from the situation.

“There’s got to be a more soulful way to look at this,” Perry reportedly told Cain. The two began working on a song idea, something Journey didn’t usually do while on tour.

“Usually we don’t write songs that far in advance of an album,” Cain admitted Hit Parades in 1983. “But on that occasion Steve and I were just working on an idea backstage and it all came together.”

Listen to ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’

“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” developed quickly, with Perry and Cain creating the song’s basic structure. The tune’s captivating synth line was originally articulated on a small Casio keyboard. The musicians were aim to create something that was “really urgent but still had rhythm and melody.” In less than a day, they presented the idea to the rest of the band, with the entire Journey lineup then filling in the song during soundcheck.

Soon, the band chose to add the tune to their setlist, even though “Separate Ways” had yet to be recorded, let alone released. The reaction on the pitch was electric.

“It doesn’t matter where we put this song [in the set] because it’s always had a powerful effect on audiences, going back to the first time we played it—before it was even recorded,” Schon recalled in 2008 to Guitar world. “It was written on tour and we threw it into the set to see how it would go down. The crowd had a great reaction to it without even knowing what it was. A lot of Journey’s influence comes from Motown mixed with R&B and blues, and that’s pretty much where ‘Separate Ways’ comes from. It has a heavier guitar than an R&B song, but I think that’s what makes it sound like Journey.”

The band officially released “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” as the lead single from Borders on Jan. 5, 1983. The tune quickly climbed the charts, reaching No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. Its accompanying music video earned heavy rotation on MTV – which might not have been a good thing. The clip, filmed on a pier in New Orleans, was panned for its cheesiness. Everything in the video—from Journey’s attire to the band’s wind instrument playing—became fodder for jokes.

Watch the music video for ‘Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)’

“I don’t need to explain that video,” Cain admitted in the book I want my MTV. “I’ll never live with those air keyboards. No matter what else I’ve done in my career, sooner or later people will find a way to ask me about the ‘Separate Ways’ video.”

Still, the clip did little to dull the popularity of “Separate Ways.” The song remains one of Journey’s definitive tracks and ranks as their sixth most played song in concert, according to Setlist.fm.

In 2022, the melody again gained fame when it was used in the trailer for the popular Netflix series, Stranger Things; “Separate Ways” resonates with a new generation of fans again.

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