While fans might wish the Sopranos could go on and on and on, at least one of the 11.9 million viewers of the show’s Sunday finale felt the controversial ending hit the right note.
Former Journey frontman Steve Perry co-authored the 1981 song “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which provided the soundtrack for Tony Soprano’s final HBO moments. He talked to PEOPLE.com about holding on to the feeling.
PEOPLE: When did you get the request to use the song for the finale?
Steve Perry: A few weeks [ago]. I needed to know how this song was going to be used. I didn’t want the song to be part of a blood-bath, if that was going to be the closing moment. In order for me to feel good about approving the song use, they had to tell me what happened. And they made me swear that I would not tell anybody. The song use actually just got approved last Thursday.
Was there any even implied threat that you’d get whacked if you told anybody the ending?
(Laughs.) Yeah, Tony was gonna whack me if I talked. No, I didn’t get any life threats. But I had to keep it quiet. I had friends that were really upset at me. They knew I knew.
Where did you end up watching the show?
I watched it here in my house in Del Mar; I’m just north of San Diego. On my flat screen, yeah. Hi def, by the way. (Laughs.) Actually, I was home alone that night.
What was it like from your couch?
I loved when Tony is going through the little jukebox at the table. They stayed really tight on Tony Bennett, and I thought, “Well, there it is, Tony would play Tony Bennett.” He presses the buttons and the next thing you know a Journey song starts. But the tension was insane. I’m getting worried that he’s being whacked. And then they cut back, and Tony looks up and it goes black. In my opinion, he sees his daughter, but I guess we’ll never know the ending. But the point of the song playing is that you just don’t give up, life goes on even if you’re the Sopranos. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living. In the midst of his turbulent life and everything, there’s always this sense of family and this sense of dreams and hopes for some kind of normalcy – some kind of don’t-give-up, don’t-stop-believing feeling. I actually shouted “All right!” at the end.
What’s the reaction been?
The phone has been ringing off the hook and my email has been on fire. One friend e-mailed me, “Congratulations. The end of the entire legacy of the Sopranos ended with your song.” What bigger honor is that?
Have you gotten a call from The Simpsons or anyone else with a show about to end?
You know, South Park might be next.