Saturday, February 25, 2012

Song #135 of 9999 - Who's Crying Now by Journey

Song #135 of 9999

Title: Who's Crying Now
Artist: Journey
Year: 1981
Album: Escape

Tonight, I thought I'd write about an unsung hero. Occasionally, a band has to make a personnel change and the results can have a significant impact. Sometimes for the better (goodbye Pete Best, hello Ringo), sometimes for the worse (so long David Lee, hello Sammy). Journey made two major changes in their early years that transformed them from Santana Lite to Gods of the Power Ballad. The obvious change—bringing Steve Perry to the band as the primary singer—was significant and completely altered their sound. But it was the addition of keyboardist Jonathan Cain that catapulted them to superstardom.

If you were never more than a casual Journey fan, you may not even know who Jonathan Cain is. Cain played with John Waite in The Babys, co-writing several of their hits. When The Babys toured with Journey as an opening act, Cain caught the attention of the headliner and soon replaced original singer/keyboardist Gregg Rolie. With Journey, Cain wrote or co-wrote every one of the band's biggest hits, including "Don't Stop Believin'," "Open Arms," "Faithfully," and "Who's Crying Now."

Even though the other songs I mentioned were bigger hits, I chose to feature "Who's Crying Now" because it's an excellent example of the band and the engineer Mike Stone working together to create a really slick pop song. The arrangement is so full and lush. You can hear the acoustic guitar during the chorus and the vocal harmonies shimmer at the end of the chorus. Every bass and drum fill is rhythmically coordinated. There's a cool little synth string descant in the second half of the second chorus. I love the sound of the bass which is equalized in a way that keeps it from getting lost among the left hand piano. Perry turns in a smoky vocal performance and Neal Schon's outro guitar solo is restrained and melodic. A perfect recording of one of Journey's best tracks.

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