Record Deal Quest
Jonathan Cain On A New Journey
Armed with a six-song demo tape just like any other songwriter, Jonathan Cain is looking for a record deal. The only difference is that Cain has sold millions of records as a member of Journey. When Cain first joined the band and added his songwriting skills to every song on the group's next album, "Escape," he vaulted Journey into becoming one of the leading rock groups of the day.
He brought to the sleek hard-rock outfit a sense of grace and subtlety that produced songs such as "Open Arms," the track that probably did more to invent the modern rock power ballad than any other single number. After Journey dissolved, Cain joined his colleague Neal Schon in Bad English, along with another former associate from the Babys, the group he belonged to before Journey, and sold another couple of million records.
But his surprising demo tape features none of the radio-ready hard rock of either previous bands, instead presenting a melodic, almost acoustic and introspective portrait of Cain. "The guy who wrote 'Faithfully,' " Cain said, referring to one of his hit Journey ballads, "I always wanted to find that character. Of all the songs I've written, that one seems to be the most timeless. It speaks to people. I want to recapture that character, that sweetness, that heart that 'Faithfully' had."
Cain built a 24-track recording studio in a building alongside his Novato home, bought the old Trident console from the Record Plant (through which producer Ron Nevison recorded "These Dreams" by Heart and Huey Lewis and the News cut "Power of Love") and began recording last March. Gregg Allman has been working on demos for the next Allman Brothers record at Cain's studio, as has the alternative rock band Honeypot. Cain and Schon even did some overdubbing on old Journey tapes for the new boxed set at Wild Horse Studios, as he calls his place.
"When I wrote 'Faithfully,' it was just me and a Wurlitzer piano," Cain said. "Keith Olsen recorded it for me when I was down at Goodnight L.A. and that has been following me around ever since."
Songs on the tape range from "Distant Shores," a song Cain co-wrote with Robbie Patton before even joining the Babys, to "When the Spirit Comes," a piece inspired by the brief reunion of Journey to play the Golden Gate Park concert last year after the death of rock impresario Bill Graham. "My Old Man" was a song Cain wrote after his father's death, which he sang at the funeral.
"It's a songwriter's kind of record," he said. "I want to get to the point where it's intimate, a one-on-one thing when you listen to it, not to try and blow you over with sound. It's healing music for me. It makes me feel good when I listen to it."
Copyright 1992 The San Francisco Chronicle