Why Neal Schon Was ‘Afraid’ of Journey Classic ‘Open Arms’
Journey guitarist Neal Schon recalled being “afraid” of the power ballad “Open Arms” and said he was “out of place and wrong” about the single which held second place for six weeks in 1982.
Vocalist Steve Perry and keyboardist Jonathan Cain wrote “Open Arms,” but when they pitched it to Schon while the band were working on their 1981 album Escapethey didn’t get the reaction they were hoping for.
“I was actually disturbed — I was a little scared of the song, to be quite honest,” Schon admitted in a recent AXS TV interview, available below. “I was always the rocker in the band, and so I thought it was really sweet. And I think the way I described it to Jonathan and Perry, when they brought it in, I kind of felt like said, ‘Are you guys kidding? It’s like Mary Poppins!'”
Schon said he had trouble finding a solo for the piece. “I was very frustrated with that, and they were frustrated with me,” he recalled. “And they were like, ‘Man, why don’t you play something really simple? Play the simplest thing you can think of. So, I thought I was a little smart…I just played something that I thought was stupid. They all jumped for joy after I played, and they said, “That’s perfect! Sometimes you just don’t know!”
When Journey embarked on their next tour, Schon couldn’t wait to introduce “Open Arms” to their fans. “I dreaded it,” he said. “We played it the first time, and the audience went crazy. And I was stunned. I was happy, but I was blown away that I was so out of place and wrong about the how people would perceive it, you know. And so, I then turn to Steve and say, ‘I think they love it, man!’ He looked at me like he wanted to chop my head off!”
Journey released their 15th album, Freedom, earlier this month. They have a handful of shows in the United States and Mexico on their itinerary through September.
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