Jonathan Cain's New Journey Memoir: 10 Things We Learned - Rolling Stone
Home Music Music News

Journey Keyboardist Jonathan Cain’s New Memoir: 10 Things We Learned

The co-writer of “Don’t Stop Believin'” explains that whole “South Detroit” situation and details the dissolution of the original band in his book

10 Things We Learned From Journey Keyboardist Jonathan Cain's Book10 Things We Learned From Journey Keyboardist Jonathan Cain's Book

Jonathan Cain's book 'Don't Stop Believin': The Man, the Band, and the Song That Inspired Generations' shines a spotlight on Journey.


Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain first got the idea for his book Don’t Stop Believin’: The Man, the Band, and the Song That Inspired Generations (in stores May 1st) while traveling around the country on one of the band’s many long tours. “I’d be on the bus a lot with [Journey bassist] Ross [Valory] and often I’d just start reminiscing about my life,” he says. “I’d talk about growing up in my Italian neighborhood and going to Dick Clark shows and listening to Wolfman Jack. I think it was Ross that said to me, ‘You should write a book.'”

Cain thought that was a splendid idea, though he didn’t quite realize how much work it would take. He began writing the book on his own laptop, starting with his earliest childhood memories, but eventually grew frustrated. He estimates that he re-wrote the first chapter alone eight different times. “I realized my grammar wasn’t so good,” he says. “I can write a song, but actually putting in the punctuation marks and knowing where to put the quotes? I had to learn all that stuff.”

He eventually was teamed up with novelist Travis Thrasher, who turned out to be an invaluable resource. “He re-organized it all and put things in their proper places and showed me where I was missing things,” says Cain. “It was about 500 pages when he got it and he said, ‘Let’s get to the essence of the thing.’ He showed me how to outline. I really owe him a lot.”

The book begins with a pivotal moment in his life: the day in 1987 that Steve Perry decided he no longer wanted to be in Journey. “In less than a year, my band would be over, my marriage would disintegrate, and, worst of all, my father would pass away,” he writes. “The year ahead would be one of the toughest I would ever have to endure.”

It then goes back to Cain’s childhood in Chicago, his early success as the keyboardist in the Babys, joining Journey in 1980, co-writing “Don’t Stop Believin'” with guitarist Neal Schon and singer Steve Perry, and the long, difficult road toward rebuilding Journey in the aftermath of Perry’s departure. It’s packed full of info that will be new even to hardcore Journey fans. Here are 10 things we learned from the book.

1. Long before Cain was famous, he attended the premier of American Graffiti.
Afterward, he mingled with the cast at Ernie’s Steakhouse in Century City. “I see the director, George Lucas,” Cain writes. “I hear he’s a graduate of the University of Southern California and quite the up-and-coming filmmaker. I recognize Opie Taylor from The Andy Griffith Show, though Ron Howard is now a young man. … I sit down next to someone who introduces himself as Harrison.”

2. Bruce Springsteen inspired some of Cain’s early songwriting in Journey.
“I felt we could take a page from his songbook and write songs about the working-class lifestyle, singing about the very issues they were thinking and dreaming about,” he writes. “Springsteen had given us permission to write about the street life, something that hadn’t been done much before.”

3. Neal Schon wasn’t initially thrilled when Cain and Perry began writing ballads like “Open Arms.”
“After we played [that song] to the band, Neal looked dumbfounded,” writes Cain. “‘Where are we supposed to play on this?’ he asked. “Into the awkward silence, Steve Perry said, ‘We’ll find the right arrangement.'” Perry was confident we could turn it into a rock anthem and began suggesting ideas for when the bass and drums could come in. I asked Neal to play the opening theme with me. The song started to grow wings and fly.”

4. The phrase “Don’t Stop Believin'” is something that Cain’s dad said to him on the phone one night in the 1970s when he was frustrated with his life and career.

He scribbled it down on the last page of his spiral notebook and found it when Journey was writing songs for 1981’s Escape. “I came up with a cool chord progression and and started humming the lyric ‘don’t stop-believin’-hold onto that feeling’ over the changes. I didn’t know what the other lyrics were yet, but I planned to show the guys the idea anyway.”

5. The infamous “Don’t Stop Believin'” lyric “born and raised in South Detroit” came to them very quickly.
Initially, Steve Perry tried “born and raised in Detroit,” but Cain felt it needed another syllable to flesh it out. He suggested “South Detroit,” though Perry wondered aloud of such a place even existed. “Heck if I know,” Cain said. “If it sings well, I say let’s move on.” No such place exists because “South Detroit” is Canada.

6. Steve Perry broke the news to Cain and Schon that he was done with Journey after calling them to meet him near San Francisco’s Richardson Bay.
“Guys, we’re done,” Cain remembers Perry saying. “We can’t get any bigger. If we keep going, we’re going to end up some classic rock nostalgia band. We’ll end up just being a memory – a shadow of what we used to be.” Cain was absolutely crushed. He’d been in the band a mere seven years. “Steve eventually walks away towards his car, leaving Neal and me near the shore,” he writes. “As we stare out at the water, I see the city by the bay. It feels like a stranger.”

7. Perry begged the band not to tour without him after a severe hip injury made it impossible for him to perform in support of the group’s 1996 comeback LP Trial By Fire.
“Do whatever you guys need to do, but don’t call it Journey,” he said. “Call the band something else. Anything. Don’t fracture the stone. I don’t think I can come back if you break it.” Perry has held true to his word by not singing a note with them since they began touring with a new singer in 1998.

8. Cain had major doubts about hiring new Journey singer Arnel Pineda after Neal Schon discovered him on YouTube in 2007.
“Initially, the thought of Arnel singing with us made me hesitant,” he writes, “wondering what our fans in places like Raleigh, North Carolina, and regions in the middle of Texas might think. I feared the twisted mentality that went, ‘That’s no Steve Perry – he’s Asian.'”

9. He randomly met his wife Paula White – who serves as Donald Trump’s spiritual advisor – on a Southwest Airlines flight to San Antonio, Texas.
He had no idea who she was, but they started talking when a book dropped out of her bag and he picked it up for her. “The likelihood of Pastor Paula White being on a Southwest flight was highly improbable, just like Journey,” Cain writes. “She had needed to get a flight to San Antonio for some time, and a seat just happened to open up on our plane that very day.”

10. White played an instrumental role in Cain’s spiritual awakening, which has caused no small degree of conflict within Journey.
“I told her how deep I used to feel in my relationship with Jesus,” he writes. “I told Paula I hadn’t been to church for many years, and how hungry I was for my faith to return.”

In This Article: Journey


Powered by
Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.