Book Review of Jonathan Cain: Don’t Stop Believing: The Man, the Band, and the Song that Inspired Generations

Book Review of Jonathan Cain: Don’t Stop Believing: The Man, the Band, and the Song that Inspired Generations

A Journey Tell-all?

Has keyboardist/songwriter Jonathan Cain written the tell-all Journey book we’ve been waiting for? Do we hear the dirt on Steve Perry and why classic members were unceremoniously dumped? Does Cain reveal how the band felt hiring a singer from a Journey-esque cover band found on YouTube?

Nope.

Not even close.

Now that 90% of you have clicked elsewhere, I’ll continue with the book review of Jonathan Cain, not the band Journey.

Children Leaping to Their Death is a Shocking Way to Begin a Book

The story of Cain’s presence in his youth at a tragic school fire is incredible. As you can imagine, that event influenced much of his life and looms as a shadow over much of the book.

I found myself immediately sympathetic to his young self and enjoyed how he slowly reveals the musician career he cobbles together.

His attempts as a solo artist in the Jonathan Cain Band are historically noteworthy. Touring, record releases, and appearances on the Dick Clark’s American Bandstand did not lead to large-scale success.

It was his time in the Babys with singer John Waite that furthered Cain’s education in how rock music of the late 1970s was a business. Even though the band was generating concert and record sales, the group was never able to make a profit and ultimately collapsed.

Fortunately, he had been seen by members of Journey, and he soon received an offer to join the band. The group was already a major act, and Cain now had a worthy team to present his songs to.

Titles like “Open Arms,” “Faithfully,” and the world-smashing “Don’t Stop Believing” were brought to life during his formative years with the band and the members rose to dizzying heights of success.

Jonathan Cain Falls Short

Cain’s book has two serious shortcomings. First, in his attempts to make this a book about his life, rather than about his band, he overcompensates. He was a member of the biggest rock band of his era and yet has almost nothing to say about what it felt, smelled, tasted, or sounded like at the time. He just glazes over the years with lightest touch. Surely, the band was more interesting than he is sharing, and that fact drastically reduces our ability to trust him with regards to all other content in the book.

Second, we get it Cain, you like God. He’s your guiding light. Cool. But after you remind us of this fact dozens of times in the later chapters it serves no purpose but to flout your own insecurities. Readers who support your religious views will not be more convinced by your repetition, and meanwhile you’re turning off anyone who might have been swayed your direction.

Conclusions

I wanted to love this book. I really did. And for the first half I thought I might. But you blew it Jonathan Cain. By the time the book ends, you present yourself as unreliable and downright suspicious. You happen to sit next to a minister on a plane and fall in love. And this makes your previous transgressions seem acceptable because that was always God’s plan for you? Really? I suspect a few trampled-over people in your past would place the choices you made higher in the mix.

So, I am left with the rather mundane conclusion that I merely “like” this book. That’s really a kiss of death in a review. If I jump and shout from an extreme point of view, that tends to elicit a response from both sides of the fence. Those who agree with my opinion may read the book simply to find a reason to support their preconceived views. And those who think I’m a raging nut bar might do the same.

But to say the book was basically an “okay” read? Now what do you do? There’s no strong incentive to find out for yourself if I’m right or not. Well, there you have it–that’s the book Jonathan Cain gave us. He should have just as well titled it, “Don’t Stop Meh.”

He started off with a great intro. The first verse showed promise. But the hook in the chorus was totally, completely, yawningly…average.

Ultimately, I believe he is better than that. For him to willingly come up short is a crime against his talent and fans. I find that rather disgusting. He could have taken a lesson from more forthcoming rockers like Glenn Hughes or Ozzy.

I rate the book 2.5 stars out of 5. If you want to check it out for yourself, click here to purchase a copy.