Jonathan Cain Reminisces Steve Perry’s Impact On Journey

In a recent sit-down with UCR, Jonathan Cain, the longtime keyboardist and backing vocalist for Journey, opened up about his relationship with former lead vocalist Steve Perry, the band’s 50th-anniversary tour, and the resounding impact of the hit song ‘Open Arms.’ Cain gave insight into the band’s journey, including the song’s transformation, which was initially met with disinterest by his bandmates.

In the midst of celebrating its 50th anniversary with a tour, Journey, specifically Cain, has navigated a turbulent period marked by a legal dispute with Neal Schon. The band has delivered a successful anniversary tour for their fans, despite their personal and professional ups and downs, as Cain and Perry have tried to show respect for one another.

This was evident in Jonathan’s recent interview, where he recalled the creation of ‘Open Arms,’ a track from the band’s ‘Escape’ album that has since become a beloved power ballad. The band, including members of the Babys, were initially indifferent about the song, but Perry’s vocal abilities breathed new life into the track, and it was the driving force that changed Cain’s mind as well.

Jonathan Cain’s words about Steve Perry follow:

It was Steve’s voice. First, his range and then the ease with which he maneuvered and sold it. I mean, he sold every word. You just believe him. He had this amazing ability to get inside a song and put the right emotion on it – and his read on ‘Open Arms’ is spectacular.

Even [founding manager] Herbie [Herbert] couldn’t deny it. We heard it in the studio, and it was like, ‘OK, it’s huge.’ It was No. 2 for a long time, and then it made the ‘Escape’ album No. 1. It’s been voted the top power ballad in all kinds of polls.”

He added:

“A lot of people get married to it and propose to it, and other things are in the backseat with it. [Laughs] So, I’m proud of that one. It started out as a wedding song for my first wedding, and I hadn’t gotten around to writing the verses. I didn’t know what they were, but I knew I had a melody. Then when I played it for Perry, he just went, ‘Oh, let’s do this. I got this.’ And we did, and that was the beginning of our lyrical partnership.”

The track became a song not only people proposed to and got married to, but it also marked the beginning of the two bandmates’ lyrical partnership. At the time, the song’s success was instrumental in propelling the ‘Escape’ album to number one. Last year, to celebrate its 40th anniversary, the band released a remastered version of the album, giving a new generation of listeners a chance to get to know Journey.