In a new White Chair Film released by global storytelling organization I Am Second, keyboardist and songwriter for rock band Journey, Jonathan Cain, explains how his relationship with his father, through the transcendence of his Heavenly Father, influenced the lyrics for the rock ‘n roll hit, “Don’t Stop Believin’”, “Faithfully,” “Open Arms,” among others.
Growing up, Cain’s father was an instrumental figure in his life, encouraging him that the best was yet to come in his life. Cain survived two near-death experiences when he was young including a school fire when he was in the third grade that killed nearly 100 of his classmates. These experiences rattled his still-developing belief in Jesus Christ.
“My father saw my sorrow right away and led me straight to music,” said Cain. “He told me, ‘Son, your life was spared for something greater and that must be music.’”
Cain’s father enrolled him in a music school where he embraced his dad’s vision, leading to years of honing his craft. In his twenties, he found himself financially struggling and was ready to give up. He called his father who said three words that Cain will never forget: “Don’t stop believing.” He wrote his father’s advice in his lyrics notebook, not realizing those words would change his career forever.
Not long after, Cain joined the band Journey and was tasked with writing a song for their new album. He looked through his lyrics notebook and found his father’s inspiring words. He wrote a melody for them, teamed up with his bandmates to complete a full song, and the rest is Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame history.
When his father passed away, Cain wasn’t sure how he would carry on.
“I always wrote my songs for him,” he shared. “Everything I did, every note I played, I could trace back to my father. One day, as I was weeping at the piano, I sensed God saying to me, ‘No Jon, it was me. I’ve always been the source. I’m where it comes from. You please me with your music.’ I thought, how did I miss that?”
Cain realized there was someone else in the room when he was crafting the lyrics to his famous songs including, “Don’t Stop Believin’” “Faithfully,” “Open Arms,” and “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).”
Suddenly Cain saw the lyrics differently. They had a new meaning. Following years of admiring his father’s steadfast faith in Jesus and wanting to impress him with his music, Cain realized his father’s influence in his life represented the love, guidance and inspiration of his Heavenly Father.
“That moment opened my eyes to the transcendence of a Heavenly Father reaching down to his son through his natural father. I know where it all comes from now.”
Today, Cain continues to tour with Journey and leads worship at his church. He aims to encourage others to press on toward their biggest dreams and never stop believing.
To watch the exclusive I Am Second film, visit iamsecond.com/film/jonathan-cain.