Journey – Lights

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a big Journey fan. However, I do like some of their earlier music before Jonathan Cain joined and took Gregg Rolie’s place. That is when they turned into a giant radio commercial juggernaut with the album Escape.

This band was huge in my generation. I just never got into them like my school peers…but those earlier songs I liked.

Journey had songs such as Lovin, Touchin, Squeezing, Wheel in the Sky, Anytime, and this one that I really liked. Their first three albums had a prog-rock sound and didn’t contain any chart hits. The three singles from Infinity reached the lower half of the Hot 100.

This song peaked at #68 in the Billboard 100 in 1978.

From Songfacts

This is about San Francisco, the “City by the bay.” Journey formed there and became popular in that area before hitting it big. If you haven’t seen a sunset in San Francisco you don’t know what you’re missing. 

This was one of the first Journey songs featuring lead singer Steve Perry. He was accepted into the band after the group’s manager listened to his audition tape for only 15 seconds.

Even though this is about San Francisco, it was written in Los Angeles, where the band had relocated. Steve Perry explained in an interview with Joe Benson of Arrow 93.1 FM: “I had the song written in Los Angeles almost completely except for the bridge and it was written about Los Angeles. It was ‘when the lights go down in the city and the sun shines on LA.’ I didn’t like the way it sounded at the time. And so I just had it sitting back in the corner. Then life changed my plans once again, and I was now facing joining Journey. I love San Francisco, the bay and the whole thing. ‘The bay’ fit so nice, ‘When the lights go down in the city and the sun shines on the bay.’ It was one of those early morning going across the bridge things when the sun was coming up and the lights were going down. It was perfect.”

Perry finished writing the song with Journey guitarist Neal Schon, who says they “banged it out in about 20 minutes.”

All three songs grew in popularity over the years, with “Lights” and “Wheel In The Sky” played at just about every Journey concert.

Infinity was the last album with drummer Aynsley Dunbar, who was kicked out for “incompatibility” and replaced with Steve Smith.

In 2017, Neal Schon started dedicating this song to Steve Perry at Journey concerts, telling the story of how they wrote it together. This was an olive branch to Perry, who was furious when the band moved on without him in 1999 when he was unable to tour. A reunion seemed inevitable, but Perry never returned to the band.



When the lights go down in the city
And the sun shines on the bay
I want to be there in my city
Ooh, ooh

So you think you’re lonely
Well my friend I’m lonely too
I want to go back to my city by the bay
Ooh, ooh

It’s sad, oh there’s been mornings
Out on the road without you
Without your charms,
Ooh, my, my, my



Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

20 thoughts on “Journey – Lights”

  1. Totally dig that tune – the harmony singing is just perfect! I actually like both the pre-Jonathan Caine and post-Jonathan Caine phases of Journey. I think Steve Perry, an insane vocalist back then, had an even bigger influence on the band’s sound than Caine. BTW, some of the band’s very early stuff pre-Steve Perry isn’t bad either.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m a big fan of Gregg Rolie…that is probably it. I do like Steve’s vocals though… I do know they were all over the radio after Escape. It was a huge album…. Wheel in the Sky I like also.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I dig Gregg Rolie as well. I actually hope seeing him in early June together with Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band. So far it looks the gig is still on – keeping fingers crossed. I’ve never seen Ringo and I’m a huge Beatles fan, so it kind of is a must!

        I also saw Rolie in 2016 when Carlos Santana brought back the Classic Santana Band, recorded Santana IV, and supported the album with a tour. A few gigs were double headers with Journey, and I was fortunate to catch one of them. To say it was awesome would be an understatement!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I saw him also with Ringo in 2012! I hope it is good by the time the concert comes around…you will really like it. I’m a huge Beatles fan as well ever since I was 8 years old in 1975.
        I think he sang Evil Ways….those All Star bands are fun concerts. You get your moneys worth.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ringo always gets great musicians with his All Starr Band. In addition to Rolie, the current lineup includes Steve Lukather, Colin Hay, Warren Ham, Gregg Bissonette and Hamish Stuart. Yeah, man, I hope it’s happening; or in case it won’t they reschedule rather than cancel altogether!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Me also…you will really like it.
        I had a surprise on mine…It was Ringo’s birthday and his brother in law came out and played…Joe Walsh on one song.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m with you on the non Journey fan deal. I will tell you though Schon did an album with a band called Hardline back in 92. The record was called Double Eclipse and tanked but that was due to the music climate in the early 90s. Schon also did that Hagar album in 85 with Hagar called Through The Fire. That album I swear has the best playing of Schon’s career as he doesn’t have to be worried about getting drowned out by Cains sappy keyboards.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you… Cain to me brought them down in my opinion. I still like the Gregg Rolie era…Now Cain helped make them filthy rich but it wasn’t for me.

      Schon is a hell of a good guitar player. I’ll take a listen at that Hagar album…thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pretty good song, like many of theirs. Man, history is funny…only got to #68 on charts but today I would wager it’ s among the 40 most played songs from that entire year on Classic Rock stations.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is a mantra quality to this song, where your mind would be blown if you were listening to this while watching a San Fran sunset. I like all of the songs you mention in your post, which tells me I like Journey better than I thought I did. I like “Oh Sherry” also. Journey played at one of our summer (outdoor) festivals one year and we had close seats. It wasn’t Steve Perry singing, but it was still good.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love Journey, older stuff & new. I had a box set of all their music at one time, going all the way back to unpublished sessions with Prairie Prince before he left to be with The Tubes.

    Rolie had a decent voice but, I always preferred Perry. I can’t argue about Rolie versus Cain. Either work for me, though, I really liked Cain in The Babys.

    Loved Schon’s ‘fro in that video. And, it appears that there has been some trouble with original bassist Valory and Steve Smith:


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