3 decades of rock, in convenient bite-sized pieces


We interrupt this blog...

The holiday, plus a sudden change in back-to-school plans (heading back a day early, have to rush packing) have caused me to take a couple-day break in updating

I should be back on the second, I might do a couple-song update to make up for the absence. Maybe not. We'll see.


#12 - Last Cigarette

Artist: Bon Jovi
Album: Have A Nice Day
Other Versions: None
Era: Current "power pop rock"


I hate trying to categorize songs with labels like "pop" and "rock" because I always wind up with this long string of words that probably doesn't mean anything to anyone else. Oh well, it's the best I could do.

I've had trouble picking a favorite song from this new cd. I don't think there's anything on there I really don't like, although there's two or three I'm pretty indifferent to, and there's a lot I really like. I think I've referred to this as my favorite more than any of the other "favorites", though, so let's go with that.

When they put the samples up on bonjovi.com shortly before the album release (they had all of "HAND", all of "Last Man Standing", and about 30 seconds each of the rest), I hated this. They just had the chorus and it seemed like the most irritating repetitive shit they've ever done. I was actually disappointed with most of the samples, worried for what the cd would be, but I hated this with a passion.

Then I listened to the whole thing, and holy crap. Yes, the chorus is repetitive, yes Jon's voice approaches that kind of nasally territory it gets to sometimes, but goddamn is this a fun song. I love the beat, I love the lyrics, I love the subtle keyboard work in the chorus that just builds the mood, I love the little break-away Brian Wilson thing they do.

This is the first song David has a writing credit on since (I believe) In These Arms from Keep the Faith, and man am I glad to see him writing again. Bon Jovi / Sambora is most fans' songwriting team of choice, but a lot of my favorites are Bon Jovi / Bryan (or, if you go by the first cd, Bon Jovi / Rashbaum). The only exception I can think of are the two songs he has a credit for off the box set I don't like that much ("Flesh and Bone", "Ordinary People"). I think when Jon and David write, there isn't that seriousness that Jon and Richie have, that "look we can be deep and meaningful" thing. The stuff David co-writes is usually really fun, and this is no exception.

Within three days of owning HAND, I knew all the words to this song. That's how much I listened to it and how much I love it.

My Rating: 10/10


#11 - Nobody's Hero

Artist: Bon Jovi
Album: 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong (Disc 4)
Other Versions: None
Era: don't know for sure, but it's probably best placed in the 90s "moody rock" category soundwise


This is how to do a "post-hair metal power ballad" ballad. It's one of those songs that when I hear it I just have to stop and listen to it and then listen to it again. It's a reminder that Bon Jovi really do have substance, despite the constant effort to dismiss them as fun fluff.

Jon and Richie harmonizing is a beautiful thing, especially when it's so bare-bones. This is a vocal song - not a capella, but the focus is very strongly on the vocals. Which is a good thing, it keeps this song from being too overblown. The lyrics are intense, too much instrumentation and it would be, well, too much (redundancy is cool).

I tend to focus on the instrumentals in Bon Jovi songs, mostly because David's my favorite and I like to pick out the piano/keyboard stuff and marvel once again at how talented he is. I didn't notice it in this song, I still don't really notice it. Jon has so much emotion and then when Richie comes in with that harmony that is always so so gorgeous, it just kills me (in a good way). This is probably the most openly emotional Bon Jovi song, the most bare-bones "this is how I feel" song - and that's saying a lot, because they have a lot of really good "heart on my sleeve" songs.

The only problem I have with this song isn't even about the song, it's that on the box set it's got the demo of Livin' on a Prayer attached to the end as a bonus track, so when I listen to it if I'm not paying attention or not near enough the cd player or computer to skip over that to the end I'm forced to listen to a song I find "high end of average". That might be a good trick to keep people from knowing there's a bonus, the attachment, but it's irritating for me loving the song so much and having to deal with the burden of a song I'm not particularly thrilled with. Small price to pay for Nobody's Hero, though. It's simply a beautiful, gut-wrenching song.

My Rating: 10/10

Edited 3/25/06: Added lyrics


#10 - In These Arms

Artists: David Bryan, Bon Jovi
Albums: Keep the Faith, On A Full Moon, Lunar Eclipse
Other Versions: The Bon Jovi version is the original, so I guess that makes David's an "other version"
Era: 90s "moody rock"


I had a massive internal battle trying to decide whether to talk about both versions of this song at the same time or separately. I pick the songs by scrolling through my "Every Bon Jovi And Members of Bon Jovi Solo and Cover Songs Ever" list and picking one at random, and today it landed specifically on David's version. So I couldn't decide whether to just talk about David's - which I like better and have more to say about and will babble forever - and wait for the group's to come up some other day, or to tackle both at once.

Both at once won, mostly because a good chunk of what I have to say about either version comes from comparison to the other, so it just makes sense to do them both now.

I heard David's solo version before the Bon Jovi one, and for a while I blamed the fact that I liked his much better than the group's on the fact that I was more used to David's. But that isn't it. I also blamed it on the first Bon Jovi version I heard being a live video from Yokohama with really poor sound quality, but that went away when I finally got KTF and listened to the song from there.

In These Arms is a passionately desperate plea for someone to come back. None of that passion and desperation come through in the BJ version - well, I shouldn't say none. Jon's KTF-era voice always had a passion to it. It's a lot more upbeat than I think this song should be, it's got this kind of dancey beat and cheerful undertone and that completely undermines the words. David's is powerful and with just the piano it avoids the trap of the guitar and drumming making it sound happier.

David has my favorite voice of anyone in the band. He's my favorite overall, actually...so maybe I'm biased. Or maybe I'm biased because I almost always like ballads better than other music, and David's is much more of a ballad. Or maybe David's is actually better and there's no bias at all.

There's one part that sells David's for me over anything else: the "your clothes are still scattered all over this room / the whole place still smells like your cheap perfume / everything here reminds me of you / there's nothing I wouldn't do" part. Jon sounds pissed when he's singing that, David just sounds absolutely desperate. Which I think is the main difference overall between the two - Jon either sounds like he's not really into it or he's angry, he's singing "please come the fuck back, I kind of miss you" while David is so passionate throughout the whole thing - he's singing "Oh God please come back to me, I'm dying without you".

The BJ version is one of the rare cases where the tone of the song doesn't match the lyrics - I think they've done it a couple other times, the "Last Man Standing" from Have A Nice Day springs to mind (they decry "pop-rock junk" with a song that is quintissential pop-rock) - and I hate that, because I'm a sing-along kind of person, thus I listen to the lyrics at least as much as the overall tone of the song and when they don't match I notice that. It's a fun song if you don't really listen to the words, but that's the best it's got going for it.

My Rating: 6/10

The David version is just amazing. It was the second time I heard David sing (first being "Memphis Lives in Me" from the box set) and it floored me more than the first. You can feel the hurt in every line of the song, and you can hear it echoed in the way he plays the piano, and it's just beautifully heartbreaking. Someone once told me I could compare my love of David's work to S&M sex - the reason I like David is because when he's singing you can feel his pain and that just intensifies the whole experience. It's a gorgeous song, one of my all-time favorites.

My Rating: 10/10

Edited 3/25/06: Added lyrics


#9 - Edge of a Broken Heart

Artist: Bon Jovi
Album: 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't be Wrong (Disc 3), Disorderlies Soundtrack
Other Versions: None (there is a Vixen song with the same name but it's a different song)
Era: mid-80s "hair metal" period


I'm not gonna lie, I was disappointed to find this wasn't a cover of the Vixen song - or vice versa. Vixen often gets called the "female Bon Jovi" so I just assumed it was natural for them to cover each other. Oh well, I was wrong.

This is one of the wholly unremarkable box set songs I keep forgetting exists until it comes up with Media Player on random. I like it, it's fun and it's got that edge their early 80s stuff lacked, and apparently it's a big hit live. I've never seen them perform it, can't judge myself, I'm going off the little booklet that came with the box set. Stellar dvd, by the way, even if most of the footage of them actually doing stuff is straight from Access All Areas.

Nothing really stands out about Edge - it's good, but not phenomenal, it's fun, but there's a lot more fun songs, it's got passion but doesn't even come close to the power ballads in that regard. Good, not great - entirely average.

My Rating: 5/10

Edited 3/25/06: Added lyrics


#8 - I'll Sleep When I'm Dead

Artist: Bon Jovi
Keep the Faith
Other Versions: None
Era: 90s "moody rock" period


Keep the Faith was Bon Jovi's first "I swear to freaking God we're not hair metal PLEASE don't dismiss us as fluff. Look, we even cut our hair! Well David and Richie didn't, and Tico's is still to his shoulders, but C'MON don't we look serious now?" album. I think most Bon Jovi fans tend to be a little blind to that idea - that the album's motivation wasn't simply to be good music for all to enjoy. As much as they like to pretend they weren't, Bon Jovi were really the forerunners of 80s cheesy pop metal..."hair metal", "poodle rock", whatever. Anyone who looks at the lavender spandex, the three-foot hair, who listens to the high-pitched metal screams and say with a straight face and full conviction that "they were never cheesy hair metal", they're pretty delusional.

This isn't a knock on the band, I just think they tend to assume that if they admit to being that cheesy fun pop metal they get accused of being, people will immediately ignore the substance they had. The only real difference between Bon Jovi and Poison is that Bon Jovi knew when the 90s hit and grunge came around they better get moody fast. Not that I doubt the artistic integrity of Keep the Faith and These Days - I'm not trying to imply they didn't in any way feel what they were writing. They were getting older, their lives were changing, they were coming off a four-year break and lives developing independently of each other. I just refuse to believe it's entirely coincidental that when grunge came, their mood and what they wanted to look like just happened to match with the shift in society.

I sound like I'm bashing them, I know. I'm not - I don't think it's a bad thing they recognize the times and can change with them without losing their essential "Bon Jovi-ness". It's just one of those things I feel needs to be said that doesn't get said (right up there with "a synthesizer does not mean the music is bad, please stop knocking your first two albums"). If Bon Jovi didn't know how to shift without losing their essence, I wouldn't be listening to them right now because, being born in 87 as I was, I would have missed them entirely, so I really can't be that bothered that they do that. I also think people might take this as me accusing them of "selling out", which I don't. I actually use this song as an example of them not "selling out" when others accuse this of being a "we just want to make money and not be has-beens" album.

Rambling aside (I promise I won't do that everytime a KTF or These Days song comes up), this is the hair metal leftover. It's fun and happy and lacking in seriousness and is an excellent party song, as well as an ideal live song. It's a concert staple and it's not hard to see why - it's so high-energy and the drum beat is really easy and fun to clap along to. It's good to get people involved, get them moving.

It's got some really cute lyrics (yes, 90s Jon, I am accusing your 90s lyrics of "cuteness") - "drive you wild 8 days a week" being one of my favorite lines, partially because I like listening to people who are hearing this for the first time go "wait...that's not right".

My (not particularly) funny story about this song: the first time I listened to the KTF album was on an extremely long (6 hour) car ride. I kept dozing off, and this was one of the songs I slept through. Obviously we have a difference of opinion as to when is the appropriate time to sleep!

That gets less amusing every time I tell it and it wasn't that funny to begin with. Consider this the official death of the "sleeping through the I don't need sleep song" story. Good freaking riddance.

Anyway, I really love this song - despite the irresistibility of the clappy drumming which causes people to look at me funny when I'm listening to my headphones and clap clap clap clapclap clapping. It's fun, always puts me in a good mood, and it lightens up a fairly heavy album without sounding out of place.

My Rating: 9/10

Edited 3/25/06: Added lyrics and video


#7 - Back Door Santa

Artist: Bon Jovi
Album: A Very Special Christmas
Other Versions: Jet, I know there's more but none I know off the top of my head
Era: Christmas

This is my favorite Bon Jovi Christmas song. By far. It's my favorite non-traditional Christmas song, as well. I love it so much.

The concept amuses me - a Christmas song about a man-slut, I don't know why it wasn't made sooner.

The lyrics are cute, if a little dated. "If the kids come home, I give 'em a few pennies so we can be alone". No modern kid would be kept away long for three cents.

I love the guitar parts in this song, to the point where I tend to sing along with them instead of the vocals sometimes (there's only a couple songs I do that for, the keyboards in "Runaway" being all I can think of right now). Actually, once I had a bit too much "Christmas spirit" and tried to sing the guitar parts at the same time as the vocals. That didn't turn out too well.

I can't really define the appeal this song has for me - it's fun and it's a lot more "rock" than most Christmas songs, but there's a lot of fun rock Christmas song. Whatever it is, I tend to rock out to this in December, January, August, whenever. Good good song.

My Rating: 10/10


#6 - Blue Christmas

Artist: Jon Bon Jovi
Album: A Very Special Christmas 5
Other Versions: Elvis (original), Willie Nelson, countless others
Era: Christmas

"Did he just say 'Make it sexy.'?"

I played the live video of this for a friend of mine, that was one of two reactions she had (the other - "Wow, Bill Clinton kind of looks like an idiot").

love this song. My favorite just-Jon Christmas song, by far, and my second favorite of the Bon Jovi Christmas collective. Jon sings like he's trying to seduce the audience but he still manages to capture the depression of the song.

My sister is a big Elvis fan and says she doesn't like it because "he's trying too hard to be Elvis". I disagree with her for a couple reasons. One, if you've ever heard Jon and Richie doing Suspicious Minds with Willie Nelson, THAT is Jon trying too hard to be Elvis (near the end of the song he tries a full-on Elvis impersonation and it's not pretty). Two, she just hates covers of Elvis in general, I've heard her criticize them before for the singer not trying hard ENOUGH to be Elvis. So take "he's trying too hard" with a grain of salt.

Jon has an amazingly versatile voice, although his range has diminished with age. Listen to this right after "Runaway", where he gets ridiculously high-pitched near the end and still sounds good, for the ideal demonstration. He sounds good high, he sounds good low, he just plain has a good voice.

This is my favorite version of this song, it's well-done and Jon is at his seductive best. You'd be hard pressed to find another song where he sounds like his main goal is to make the entire audience - Bill Clinton included - have sex with him, without sacrificing any of the song itself. Good work.

My Rating: 10/10

#6.5 - R2-D2 We Wish You A Merry Christmas
Artist: Various (inc. John Bongiovi)
Album: Christmas in the Stars: The Star Wars Christmas Album
Other Versions: None
Era: Christmas

I don't like Star Wars at all - well, that's not fair. I don't not like it, I'm just completely indifferent. The only Star Wars movie I've seen is Episode IV and that's only because the guy who was paying for me to get in wanted to see it. So I had no reason to check this out - until I learned this track featured vocals by a young John Bongiovi.

This is Jon's first appearance on a commercial record. This was recorded after his Power Station Years cd, but was released first. He sounds young. The first time I listened to it, I didn't believe it was him - I thought it must have been a mistake, someone told me wrong.

It's him, alright, just a young him. This song is crap - the lyrics are cheesy but not so-cheesy-they're-awesome, the little surrounding skit is dumb, and the kids who sing the chorus have extremely irritatingly high-pitched voices.

But I can't stop listening to it, and I can't get it out of my head. I don't know why.

My Rating: 2/10

And as a special Christmas Eve treat, for your downloading pleasure:
R2-D2, We Wish You A Merry Christmas


#5 - Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Artist: Jon Bon Jovi
Album: A Very Special Christmas Live
Other Versions: Hanson, U2, Death Cab for Cutie, Mariah Carey, Cher, Phil Spector, probably several others I'm missing
Era: Christmas

I haven't listened to this song in a little under a year. Sometime between last Christmas and this Christmas I lost the cd it was on, and haven't been able to track it down for a refresher course. So bear with me, I'll do my best here.

There's two things I really remember about Jon's version of this song - he didn't sound as passionate as he does in his other Christmas songs, and near the end his voice got borderline nasal and started to grate on my nerves a bit.

This is a fun song, and it manages to be happy while talking about loneliness and longing which is odd but it works. I wish I still had his version of it to listen to to go a little more in-depth with this, but sadly I don't. Maybe next Christmas I'll find it and be able to do a "new and improved" Baby Please Come Home review. If I do track it down, I'll expand on this a bit.

My Rating: 7/10


#4 - Please Come Home for Christmas

Artist: Jon Bon Jovi
Albums: A Very Special Christmas 2, A Very Special Christmas Live
Other Versions: the original is by the Eagles (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong), I don't know the specifics of any other covers but I'm sure they exist
Era: Christmas

This is a dangerous song for me to listen to in public, it has a couple "uncontrollable sing-along" lines, the kind of lines you just start singing when you hear them before you realize what you're doing and where. Examples include the "Tonight, thank God it's them instead of you" line in "Do They Know it's Christmastime?" and "Some will win, some will lose, some were born to sing the blues" in Journey's "Don't Stop Believing". In this song, the intial "Bells will be ringing" line and "choirs will be singing si-ilent night" always get me going, much to the chagrin of anyone within hearing distance.

Man this song is depressing. It's fun to sing, but to sing you have to pay attention to the lyrics and when you do that it makes you sad. But singing usually makes me happy. So it's kind of a vicious cycle I get into with this song. I definitely like this version better than the original - it's more intense, more passionate, you feel like he means it more. Plus I like Jon's voice better.

It's decent - not stellar, but it did manage to avoid the usual cover problems of
a) being a note-for-note copy of the original with no innovation or differences
b) being so different it's terrible
so points for that. And the aforementioned singability. Also the video is the only time I've ever been jealous of a Santa hat, Cindy Crawford, and Jon Bon Jovi all at the same time.

My Rating: 8/10


#3 - O Holy Night

Artist: Richie Sambora
Album: Merry Axemas: A Guitar Christmas
Other Versions: There's a lot, this being a Christmas standard and all
Era: Christmas

I'll start by saying I love Richie's voice. If I were to put the voices of Bon Jovi members in order, it would go David > Richie > Jon. Although I wouldn't replace Jon as the lead singer for anything, it just wouldn't be right without him. So, loving Richie's voice as much as I do, I was thrilled to find out he performed one of my favorite traditional Christmas songs.

I was disappointed at first to discover it's not a vocal version - it's just him playing guitar. I'm not a big guitar fan and I'm a big Richie's voice fan, so to find there was no voice and an abundance of guitar wasn't really what I wanted.

But he won me over! This is really different from any version of O Holy Night I've ever heard. It starts out with this ominous rumbling, then in comes a solitary guitar, and it just keeps building. At one point, there is a synthesizer and guitar playing the melody and another guitar doing its own thing. The instrumental backing gives this an epic feeling that all versions of OHN need.

There are also a couple parts where the epicness dies down, it goes back to just the one guitar and it's still gorgeous. And remember this is coming from someone who doesn't really like guitar.

This is different, and it's interesting and it brings a nice variety to my Christmas playlist. Hated it at first, love it now, can't picture my Christmas music collection without it.

My Rating: 9/10


#2 - I Wish Every Day Could be Like Christmas

Artist: Bon Jovi
Album: A Very Special Christmas
Other Versions: None
Era: Christmas

Day one of the Song of the Day countdown to Christmas (or to the first day of Chanukah if you're Jewish like everyone's favorite permed keyboardist). Recorded for the first Very Special Christmas album in 1990, it is to my knowledge the only original Bon Jovi Christmas song.

This is a nice song, with a nice message, nice music....just plain "nice", I guess. Jon's got his low, "see I am not a high-pitched hair metal singer, just listen how low I can get" voice that I like. There's some strong female backing vocals, and I always like opposite sex backing for some reason. It just makes a nice effect (plus I can pretend it's Tico singing like a girl or something). There's that "nice" again.

I like the pace of this song, it's got some very traditional Christmas song-esque drumming but kicked up a little bit. And the bells are nice (I need a new word). They add this whole sweeping epic quality that matches Jon's low voice really well - that voice is just MADE to slam you with emotion, and it does so very well with the backing of the drums and bells.

It's a good, mellow, emotional Christmas song, which is really all I can ask from a Bon Jovi Christmas song (except that high-pitched voice, I love that voice)

My Rating: 8.5/10


#1 - Livin' on a Prayer

Artist: Bon Jovi
Slippery When Wet, Crossroad, One Wild Night (live), This Left Feels Right (acoustic remix f/ Olivia D'Abo), 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong (hidden bonus track)
Other Versions: Live w/ Jennifer Nettles (CMT Crossroads performance), Unplugged (VMA 1989 performance)
Era: Late '80s, the "hair metal" period

Lyrics (TLFR)

The "big one" - first number one single, recognized almost universally, the song that has become synonymous with Bon Jovi.

With good reason - LOAP and BJ have a lot in common. They have a multigenerational appeal - young and old alike know and love this song. College students blast it at their frat parties, junior high kids hear it at their dances, 45-year-old women crank it up in their cars and remember that time in '89 they flashed a roadie to get backstage.

Prayer set the theme for almost every Bon Jovi song since then - that "never give up" chips-are-down optimism that shows up practically everywhere in their lyrics. It shows up all over the place on their albums - "Lie to Me" from These Days is about Tommy and Gina, the characters were mentioned in the 2000 hit "It's My Life", and the titular phrase shows up on Have A Nice Day in the song "Novocaine". Livin' on a Prayer made Bon Jovi big, and they use it whenever possible to help keep them big (I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way).

And I don't like it.

Well, that's not true. I like the song fine - it's probably in my top 25 "sing at the top of my lungs with my fist in the air" songs, and the acoustic versions are gorgeous. What I don't like is how the song has gotten so big it has dwarfed a lot of Bon Jovi's better work.

Livin' on a Prayer is not Bon Jovi's best song, in my opinion. Hell, if it had been me on the infamous Pizza Jury, I probably would have gone with Jon's instinct and kept it off Slippery. It's not their best hit, it's just plain not top-tier work. They can be so much more interesting musically, so much deeper lyrically. But no one cares because, heck, it's a fun song.

I live in a dorm, and the wall above my bed is covered (literally) with Bon Jovi pictures. When people come in and see that, they immediately ask for LOAP. Not You Give Love A Bad Name, not Wanted, not It's My Life, it's ALWAYS Prayer. That's a big reason I'm so bitter about this song, I think - I get sick of it fast.

But it's fun and it's catchy, an ideal karaoke song, an ideal frat party song, an ideal "relive the 80s" song, and it's the definitive Bon Jovi song, so I can't be too angry at it.

My Rating: 8/10

Edited 3/25/06: Fixed the "Last Cigarette"/"Novocaine" mix-up, added lyrics and video

And so it begins...

I'm the kind of person who isn't really happy without some kind of project to do. I'm also the kind of person who gets pretty obsessed with whatever happens to be making me happy at the moment.

Right now, Bon Jovi is my obsession, thus Bon Jovi Song of the Day is my project. Every day (ideally, although I'm sure there will be days where I just can't do it), I will pick a Bon Jovi song (or a Jon Bon Jovi solo song, or a David Bryan solo song, or a Richie Sambora song, or Bon Jovi covering another song...you get the idea) and write about it.

I'll talk a little about the song objectively, a little subjectively, whatever. Some of them will come with the inescapable rant or ramble, of course. And if I'm so inclined (i.e. my friends are sick of me talking about Bon Jovi but I still have more to babble about), there will probably be some entries in here that aren't specific song-related, they're just kind of there.

A couple quick clarifications:
- the "artist" line in the initial song info may seem unneccessary at first, but I will be writing about solo works of band members so it'll make sense once I get to Jon and Richie and Dave's stuff
- the "era" line is there because in my mind Bon Jovi has several distinct periods sound-wise, so categorizing a song into a time period will give a better idea of the kind of song it is if you haven't heard it yet (the eras are: early '80s "synth rock", mid '80s "hair metal", '90s "moody ballad rock", early '00s "hard pop", and current "power pop rock"). Songs from the box set are given an era based on any info I have about when it was written or, failing something that easy, what sound category they fit best
- "my rating" isn't necessarily how I feel about the song, it also takes into account the impact on the body of work, how other people feel, and probably some other stuff

And so begins the Bon Jovi Song of the Day project, courtesy of an obsessive fan with way too much time on her hands.