journey`s don`t stop believin`
LEGENDS n SONG STORIES D BRFAKOUTS
Jonathan Cain (at center in
photo at left) is opening a
new recording studio, Addiction Sound, in Nashville
in 2012. Learn about his solo
career and charity work at
THE JOURNEY OF
Don't Stop Believinn
BY JONATHAN CAIN
THREE DECADES INTO ITS RELEASE, JOURNEY'S'DON'T STOP BELIEVIN'"
seems even more popular than when it hit radio airwaves in i981. From shows
like G/ee to the Broadway musical Rock of Ages to almost any jukebox in
any bar, it feels like it's everywhere. This is the story of how it went from an
unfinished chorus l'd penned at home to the song we all know today.
Not long before joining Journey, I was struggling
in the music business in Los Angeles, without
a record deal, aqrd I a taken a break from music.
But my father always believed I would succeed,
and would regularly say 'Jon, don't stop
believing" on the phone to me from Chicago.
So I wrote that down, and started working
as a chorus. When Journey's
keyboardist Gregg Rolie left the band, they
me to join and contribute material to finish up
at first, with just a driving eighth-note figure
throughout. My original chorus looked like Ex.l.
[Lead singer] Steve Perry liked the chords so
much that he wanted to use them for the entire
song, breaking them down to sing the verses
over. So we started exploring the chords, and
Perry said to me, "Instead ofjust playing chords,
theEscape album. I brought my chorus in, and
that's where it all began.
The original chorus included the chords,
melody, and the lyrics "Don't stop believing, hold
on to that feeling." I didn't knowwhat the next
line was going to be at that point, but I knew.
the melody would go up at the end to complete
give me one of your rolling, signature piano riffs."
the phrase. The bass line was also different
we needed to make the verse stand out. So we
just left the band the Babys, where our song
"Turn and Walk Away" had a rolling piano intro.
Perry was looking for something that captured
that side of my musical personality, so I broke
the chords up into an eighth-note riff. Because
we had the same chords for verses and chorus,
disguised the chords in the arpeggiated piano
everyone lmows today. Perry and I loved classic
soul artists like Marvin Gaye, who could write great
songs with just four chords repeating over and over
again. That was the goal we set for ourselves.
Perry then said "Let's keep the chords, but
come up with a different bass line." The goal
was to make each section of the song unique. So
Iguitarist] Neal Schon started experimenting
with the bass line, and came up with a new one
over my moving piano part, which he showed
to [bassist] Ross Valory. Ross had a unique bass
sound, almost like a cellist. He tweaked his amp
and added a flanger to get his parts to really
bark. The piano and bass parts together are
shown in Ex. 2.
Perry then started looking for a melody to
sing over the verse that would take the same
chords into more soulful territory. We hadn't
crafted the lyrics yet, but he was humming what
would eventually become the song's soaring
melody. It sounded great to all of us.
Next, he decided we'd play another verse.
While we played the chords as the re-intro to
the second verse, Neal started playing what
would become his signature, sixteenth-note
"going down the train tracks" descending
guitar arpeggio, which he played double-time
over my eighth-note piano part.
After the second verse, the song felt like
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a standard IV
chord on the B-section, Neal had the idea to play the V chord over the IV
bass note, rocking back and forth between that and the II/ chord. I doubled
Neal's guitar part on keyboards, using an ARP Omni string patch through a
Roland Dimension-D chorus. Perry picked up on Neal's alternating chordal
figure, eventually using the same melody notes for the B-section lyrics
"strangers" and "waiting." This added an element of tension and release,
it needed to go to the M chord. But instead of just playing
and can be seen in Ex. 3.
The next day, after we d decided on an arrangement, I went to Steve
Perry's house and we worked on lyrics. He sang and played bass while we
listened to the tapes from the daybefore. I said, "This sounds like a train
going down the tracks." Perry agreed, and we started looking for clues to
tell the song's story. I said, "I love the song'Midnight Train to Georgia.'
What if this is the midnight train going anywhere?" We knew we were on
to something. Later, Perry and I would craft the B-section lyrics out of our
time spent cruising the Sunset Strip in L.A., with its endless menagerie
of wandering souls. I'd think, "Where did all these people come from, and
what the hell are they doing here?" They would eventually become the
"streetlight people" in the chorus, completing the song that changed the
course of my life forever.J)
l'm embracing the new Roland V-Piano Grand on
Journey's current Eclipse tour. l'm also playing the
new Jupiter-8O, which is an amazing synth. Those two
keyboards have just been tremendous. Having them
on tour has made things much easier on everyone.
We're more of a rock band now, and using my Fazioli
acoustic piano on stage has become almost
impossible. lt was hard to get the piano up in the mix,
and it was howling in the P.A. as well. The V-Piano
solved all of that. Now, the Faz will have a permanent
home in my new studio.