Flashback: Journey Learn ‘The Road Ain’t No Place to Start a Family’
Journey were just six days into their U.S. tour in support of 1981’s Escape when keyboardist Jonathan Cain began feeling homesick. The previous year he’d quit the Babys to replace founding keyboardist Gregg Rolie in Journey, and on the strength of singles like “Open Arms,” “Who’s Crying Now” and “Don’t Stop Believin'” they were headlining arenas on a tour that would keep them on the road for a solid year. The band bus was somewhere between Portland, Maine and Saratoga Springs, New York when Cain began pouring his heart onto a napkin, beginning with the lines, “Highway run into the midnight sun/Wheels go round and round, you’re on my mind.”
“I wrote rest of it down, almost frantically. I’d never had a song come to me so quickly that it was anointed, supernatural,” he told SongFacts. “Literally, in 30 minutes I had written that song. I had the napkin in my pocket and I put it on the piano. I had a big grand piano there by the orchestra. I played through it and I thought, ‘Man, this is good.'” He called the composition “Faithfully.”
There are few rock cliches more tired than a successful band complaining about the rigors of the road via song, but “Faithfully” also had a strong message of love and family at it’s core. It found a huge audience once the group released it as the second single from their 1983 LP Frontiers. They promoted it with a video that showed the weary band bussing all over the country. Some scenes showed frontman Steve Perry with a mustache and others showed him clean-shaven, so they filmed a bit where he shaved it so nobody would be confused. Moments like drummer Steve Smith awkwardly carrying a baby onto a plane while Perry sings the immortal line “they say the road ain’t no place to start a family” may seem a little cheesy today, but next to earlier, cringe-inducing Journey videos like “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” the thing is practically “Thriller.”
The back-to-back success of Escape and Frontiers made it seem like Journey would be one of the most dominant bands of the 1980s, but Steve Perry took a long break after the 1983 tour ended and when the group resumed three years later he insisted they part ways with Smith and bassist Ross Valory. Then after just one final tour, he split the band up and, despite spearheading the 1996 reunion LP Trial by Fire, hasn’t played live with the band since a 1991 one-off tribute to Bill Graham. The group struggled with a series of replacement singers in the early 2000s, but once they found Arnel Pineda on YouTube in 2008 everything changed and suddenly they were back to headlining arenas.
The group is touring this summer with Def Leppard even though guitarist Neal Schon got into a very public spat with Jonathan Cain last year. Among other things, he was furious that the keyboardist took much of the band to the White House to meet President Trump. Cain’s wife Paula White (a televangelist who recently took heat for asking her followers to send her a month’s salary) serves as Trump’s unofficial spiritual advisor. Cain and Schon haven’t made peace, but they’re still able to walk onstage every night and play their old hits. And no matter what happens, they’ll never play a single show without “Faithfully.” That highway will run into the midnight sun forever and ever.