Jonathan Cain recalls helping take Journey “to the next place” with 1981’s ‘Escape’ album

Sony Music Entertainment

Journey‘s classic seventh studio album, Escape, was released 40 years ago this past week.

The chart-topping record was Journey’s first album to feature keyboardist Jonathan Cain, who left The Babys to join the band, replacing founding member Gregg Rolie.

Cain immediately began collaborating with Journey’s main songwriters, frontman Steve Perry and guitarist Neal Schon, and wound up co-writing all of Escape‘s 10 tracks.

“They wanted me to help change their sound,” Cain tells ABC Audio. “They wanted me to help take Journey to the next place.”

Cain says he developed a synergy with Perry and Schon in the studio that reminded him of the chemistry The Beatles had.

“We knew our roles,” Jonathan notes. “We knew when to step in, when to kick back.”

Reflecting on Escape‘s musical diversity, Cain notes, “It’s a menagerie of pop and rock…[A]ll the influences…kind of stewed together. And the critics really kind of dismissed it…but it had a way of selling, and kept selling.”

That menagerie included Journey’s first three top-10 hits — “Open Arms”, “Who’s Crying Now” and “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which peaked at #2, #4 and #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively.

Cain says he’d written most of “Open Arms” before joining Journey, and then enlisted Perry to help finish the lyrics.

Jonathan recalls that when he presented the pop ballad to the band, “they looked at us like we were Martians,” but “when [Steve] sang it, it was extraordinary.”

Then there was “Don’t Stop Believin’,” which while it wasn’t Escape‘s biggest chart hit, it’s become Journey’s signature song.

Cain says he remembers musing with Perry about Journey one day having a transcendent anthem like The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” and with “Don’t Stop Believin’,” “40 years later, I think we have one. What a blessing.”

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