Writer(s): Jonathan Cain (see lyrics here)
First Charted: April 15, 1983
Peak: 12 US, 15 CB, 5 GR, 4 RR, 24 AC, 36 CN, 5 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 278.85 video, 165.06 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Classic Rock magazine’s Paul Elliott called this the greatest power ballad ever recorded. Dave’s Music Database won’t go quite that far, but it does rank as one of the top 20 power ballads of all time. It also ranks as one of the top 30 love songs of all time. Nate Larson of HuffPost ranked it the seventh-best love song of all time. WK
Journey’s own “Open Arms,” a #2 hit from the year before and a song which also makes both Dave’s Music Database lists, is one of the songs that carved out the template for power ballads in the 1980s. During the 1970s, groups like Journey, Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Foreigner built loyal followings with constant touring and a presence on album-rock radio. All four then experienced the biggest hits of their careers in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s with slower-tempo love songs – the kind that evoked stadiums full of rockers to lift their lighters in synchronicization.
Keyboardist Jonathan Cain wrote the song about the challenges of being a married man on the road with a rock band. Appropriately, he wrote the song while the band was on tour. He jotted down the initial lyric “highway run into the midnight sun” on a tour bus while headed to Saratoga Springs, New York, and finished the song the next day in just a half hour. He said, “I’d never had a song come to me so quickly.” WK The band performed it for the first time at the Sarotga Performing Arts Center. WK The eventual video for the song featured footage of the band on the road and onstage.
When Prince recorded “Purple Rain” in early 1984, he called Cain because he was worried the chord changes were too similar to “Faithfully.” Prince played the song for Cain, saying “I don’t want you to sue me.” Cain reassured him it was fine and said, “I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.” GG
First posted 7/7/2022; last updated 12/26/2022.