Journey’s Any Way You Want It: A Rock Anthem That Stands the Test of Time

by Alex Harris

8th July, 2024

Journey's Any Way You Want It: A Rock Anthem That Stands the Test of Time

Released in February 1980, Journey’s Any Way You Want It has become a quintessential rock classic that continues to captivate audiences decades after its initial debut.

This energetic track, featured as the lead single from the band’s sixth studio album, “Departure,” showcases Journey’s signature sound and has left an indelible mark on the music landscape.

Journey Departure album cover
Journey Departure album cover

The Birth of a Classic

Any Way You Want It emerged from a creative collaboration between Journey’s lead singer Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon.

The song’s genesis can be traced back to a pivotal moment in July 1979, when Journey was on tour with Irish rock band Thin Lizzy across the United States.

During a stop in Miami, Perry and Schon found themselves in the company of Thin Lizzy’s charismatic bassist, Phil Lynott.

This chance encounter would prove to be the catalyst for the creation of Any Way You Want It.

Lynott shared his approach to songwriting, particularly focusing on the interplay between guitar and vocals in a call-and-response format.

Inspired by Lynott’s technique, Perry and Schon began working on the song while travelling on the band’s tour bus.

With Schon on acoustic guitar and Perry providing vocals, they crafted the foundation of what would become one of Journey’s most beloved tracks.

The Making of “Any Way You Want It”

Once the basic structure was in place, Journey headed to the studio to bring Any Way You Want It to life.

The production process, helmed by Kevin Elson and Geoff Workman, involved some creative problem-solving that contributed to the song’s unique sound.

Initially, keyboardist Gregg Rolie used a Mellotron for the track. However, when the instrument proved to be defective, co-producer Geoff Workman came up with an innovative solution.

He decided to double the Mellotron’s sound with Rolie’s regular organ during the final mixing stage.

This ingenious fix resulted in the distinctive keyboard effect that adds depth and character to the song’s arrangement.

The final product is a testament to Journey’s musical prowess. Neal Schon’s guitar work drives the song forward with catchy riffs and melodic hooks, while Steve Perry’s powerful vocals soar above the instrumentation.

The rhythm section, anchored by Ross Valory’s steady bass grooves and Steve Smith’s dynamic drumming, provides a solid foundation for the track.

“Any Way You Want It” Lyrics That Resonate

The lyrics of Any Way You Want It are straightforward yet effective, capturing the essence of passion and freedom in relationships.

The chorus, with its catchy refrain “Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it,” became an instant sing-along favourite for fans.

The verses paint a picture of a vibrant, free-spirited woman who “loves to laugh” and “loves to sing.” 

This character embodies the song’s theme of embracing life and love on one’s own terms.

The pre-chorus builds tension with its repetitive “all night, every night” lines, leading into the explosive chorus that releases that energy.

In the second verse, the narrator reflects on personal growth through love, stating, “I was alone; I never knew what good love could do.” 

This adds a layer of depth to the song, suggesting that the freedom to love “any way you want it” can be transformative.

The bridge section, with its repeated “hold on” refrain, adds urgency and intensity to the track before launching back into the familiar chorus.

Throughout the song, the interplay between Perry’s vocals and Schon’s guitar riffs exemplifies the call-and-response technique that inspired its creation.

“Any Way You Want It” Impact and Legacy

Upon its release, Any Way You Want It quickly gained traction on the charts, peaking at number 23 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

However, the song’s true impact would be felt in the years and decades that followed.

Any Way You Want It has become a staple of classic rock radio, ensuring its place in the cultural zeitgeist.

Its infectious energy and memorable chorus have made it a go-to choice for various media, appearing in films, television shows, and commercials.

The song’s popularity has only grown over time, featuring in diverse contexts from the 1980 comedy “Caddyshack” to more recent appearances in TV series like “Glee” and “Better Call Saul.”

Its inclusion in the 2015 film “Pitch Perfect 2” as a multi-language a cappella cover introduced the track to a new generation of listeners.

Most recently, Any Way You Want It has been used in promotional material for the 2024 action-comedy film “The Fall Guy,” further cementing its status as a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences across different eras.

Any Way You Want It Music Video

To promote Any Way You Want It, Journey released a music video directed by Kim Paul Friedman.

The video, which premiered in March 1980, opens with an intriguing scene of a man selecting the song on a jukebox.

As the music begins, the video transitions to footage of the band performing in a studio setting.

The video culminates with a clever reveal, showing that the man at the jukebox is none other than Steve Perry himself, turning to smile at the camera.

This playful ending adds a touch of charm to the visual representation of the song.

“Any Way You Want It” A Live favourite

Any Way You Want It has remained a cornerstone of Journey’s live performances throughout the years.

Its appearance on all four of the band’s live albums—”Captured,” “Greatest Hits Live,” “Live in Houston 1981: The Escape Tour,” and “Revelation on DVD”—underlines its enduring popularity with fans.

The song’s high-energy arrangement and crowd-pleasing chorus make it a natural fit for live shows, allowing both the band and the audience to feed off each other’s enthusiasm.

Whether performed in its original form or as part of medleys (such as the mash-up with “Lovin’ Touchin’ Squeezin'” featured on “Glee”), Any Way You Want It never fails to ignite the crowd.

Exploring the Song’s Meaning

While Any Way You Want It is primarily an upbeat, feel-good rock anthem, its lyrics invite various interpretations.

At its core, the song celebrates personal freedom and the joy of living life on one’s own terms.

The repeated phrase “Any way you want it, that’s the way you need it” can be seen as an affirmation of individual choice and self-expression.

Some listeners interpret the lyrics as a celebration of sexual liberation, while others view them as a broader statement about personal autonomy in all aspects of life.

Regardless of the specific interpretation, the song’s message of embracing life with passion and enthusiasm resonates with a wide audience.

The Enduring Appeal of “Any Way You Want It”

Decades after its release, Any Way You Want It continues to captivate listeners with its infectious energy and memorable melody.

Its ongoing popularity in various media and its status as a live performance favourite speak to the song’s timeless quality.

For those who haven’t experienced the magic of this Journey classic, there’s no better time to give it a listen.

Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the band’s music, Any Way You Want It offers a perfect introduction to Journey’s signature sound and Steve Perry’s iconic vocals.

As we look back on the creation and impact of Any Way You Want It, it’s clear that this song has earned its place in the pantheon of rock classics.

From its inception as a collaboration inspired by Phil Lynott to its continued relevance in popular culture, Any Way You Want It stands as a shining example of Journey’s musical legacy.

So the next time you hear those opening guitar riffs or Steve Perry’s powerful vocals, remember the rich history behind this enduring hit.

Turn up the volume, sing along, and experience the joy of rock and roll—any way you want it.

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Journey Any Way You Want It Lyrics

Intro
Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it

Verse 1
She loves to laugh
She loves to sing
She does everything
She loves to move
She loves to groove
She loves the loving things

Pre-Chorus
Ooh, all night
All night
Oh, every night
So hold tight
Hold tight
Ooh, baby, hold tight
Oh, she said

Chorus
Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it
She said, Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it

Verse 2
I was alone
I never knew
What good love could do
Ooh, then we touched
Then we sang
About the loving things

Pre-Chorus
Ooh, all night
All night
Oh, every night
So hold tight
Hold tight
Ooh baby, hold tight
Oh, she said

Chorus
Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it
I said, any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it

Bridge
She said ohh
Hold on
Hold on
Hold on

Chorus
Oh, she said any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it
(Any way) Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it

Chorus
Oh, she said any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it
Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it

Chorus
Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it
Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it

Chorus
(Any way) Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it
(Any way) Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it

Chorus
(Any way) Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it
(Any way) Any way you want it
That’s the way you need it
Any way you want it

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