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Don't stop believin: Journey songwriter says music took him full circle to God

Jonathan Cain, left, and Steve Perry
by WorldTribune Staff, September 1, 2022

Jonathan Cain, who wrote some of the most iconic songs in the catalogue of rock band Journey, said his father, a devout Christian, encouraged him to pursue music and that the profession would allow him to establish his own 'walk with Jesus".

“My father, he always said, every time I had something great happen ... ‘This is just a stepping stone to something greater, child.’ [And I would ask], ‘What do you mean Dad, [by] just a stepping stone?’ My dad wasn’t impressed. He goes, ‘This isn’t it. There's something else coming,’ ” Cain said in an interview with the Christian nonprofit I Am Second.

With his father's words fresh in his mind, Cain joined Journey in 1973, serving in various roles including keyboardist, guitarist, vocalist — and songwriter.

Before joining Journey, Cain said he had contemplated giving up music. Early in his career, he said he struggled to pay his bills as he pursued his dream.

“I had to call [my father] and I hated asking him for money. But, I said, ‘Dad, I just wonder, should I give up on this music dream and come home to Chicago and forget about it?’ ” Cain recounted. “And there was silence for a minute. And then [my father] said: ‘John, this is your vision. No. You're not coming home. Stay the course. Don't stop believing.’ ”

Soon after the talk with his dad, Cain said he put pen to paper, immediately writing what his father had told him in a small lyric book. The words later became the basis for the 1981 hit song, “Don’t Stop Believin.' ”

“It wasn't until five years later, [Journey lead singer] Steve Perry looked at me and said, ‘You got another song?’ And I said, ‘Well, let me look in my book.’ And sure enough, there's what Dad had said,” Cain said.

“I wrote a melody to have 'a city boy and a small town girl on a midnight train going anywhere.' I came in the next day, and it was history. I believe that is what got us into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ... Thank you, Dad.”

Decades after its release, "Don't Stop Believin" became the best-selling digital track from the 20th Century, with over seven million downloads.

Years after "Don't Stop Believin" was released, Cain's father passed away and Cain said he recalled hearing the voice of God as he was weeping at a piano and realized that he should have been thanking God for his music.

“I didn't think I would be able to carry on. I always wrote for him. … I said, 'Everything I did, every note I played, I can trace back to my father.’ And then, God, His voice came to me. … ‘No, John, it has been Me. It's Me, John. It's always been Me through him. But, I am the source. I am where it comes from,’ ” Cain said.

“And I went, ‘Oh man. How did I miss that? … So You were the Guy in the room when I wrote ‘Faithfully.’ ‘I'm forever yours, Lord, faithfully,’ ” said Cain, citing the lyrics to another iconic Journey song.

While most known for his work with Journey, in 2016, Cain released a Christian album, "What God Wants to Hear", with songs that focused on his journey of faith.

"God has provided true musical and spiritual restoration," said Cain in an interview with The Christian Post at the time. "Journey will continue to tour and I hope the Lord will inspire me to continue to make new music again with this iconic band of rock and roll. For now, I remain His humble servant and continue to serve Him in my new ministry."


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