The lyrics are very heartfelt. You have, "Every heartache's a blessing/ Every knockdown was a start." I know you touched upon this with the album title, but did you intentionally set out to make a record that was so intensely personal?Read the full interview here.
What I found, interestingly enough, through the ups and downs of my life over the past decade since I made my other solo record, and all the stuff that I've gone through in my life over the past decade – this record is basically about my stuff. And what I really found out is that my stuff is pretty universal. The stuff that I've gone through isn't that alien. The stuff that I've gone through, anybody can go through in their lives and they probably will. Ups and downs and things like that. So I really felt like everybody can relate to these lyrics and make them their own. At the end of it, when I looked back on it, that's really what I've found.
You're exactly right except, perhaps, for "Seven Years Gone" because of the specific number of years. That one's about your ex-wife?
About seven years ago, life for me started to take kind of a little bit of a dip. I was getting divorced, my father was dying of cancer at that point in time, so things were definitely at a transformative period in my life. And then all of the sudden, I looked up, when I started writing this record, and I said, "Wow! Seven years gone!" It really went by very quickly. I started to think about the transference of time. My God, it's like, all of the sudden, I've been in this business for 30 years now and all the amazing stuff that's happened to me. So I guess it was kind of a reflection on all that kind of stuff, and I think anybody can relate to that.
You know what else I found during the making of the record? Pain and struggle are necessary, and challenging situations like that are necessary, for you to actually find your freedom and move on. The essential message of this record is freedom. A song like "Taking a Chance on the Wind" – about "Raising my flag/ And taking my chance on the wind" – it's all about risk. But, it's like, people ask me, "Why'd you make this record, Richie? Wasn't it a risk to make such a record?" And I say, "It would've been a risk not to make this record." I had to get this stuff out. It was a cathartic thing for me to do this album. And also, just to express my individuality away from the band.
I think that's probably why I went with an independent record company. That's why I went with Dangerbird. All this about "raising my flag" – independence. That's what I wanted, you know? I wanted independence from stuff that I knew before.
Interestingly, Richie was also asked if Hugh McDonald was now part of the "brotherhood" and (not surprisingly) towed the Jon Bon Jovi line.