This is a guest post by Shannon about the evolution (or devolution as some would argue) of Bon Jovi's music. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!
I was cruising down the streets of my hometown this morning on the way to work, when the song “Novocaine” shuffled up on my iPod. I started singing along and tapping the steering wheel in time to the beat and realized that I had forgotten how much I liked the song. It’s not that I don’t listen to the Have a Nice Day record, but, well, maybe sometimes I don’t really listen to it.
Recently while driving I have been running through my favorite Jovi tunes in my head, trying to pick out which songs are my favorites from which records – I find it impossible to pick just ONE favorite out of the entire Bon Jovi catalogue, so I have to go album by album. Every time I get to Have a Nice Day, however, I can’t pick just one song. Or even two. That’s when I realize that I like the whole record. I mean, I really, really like it.
I like the rockin’ anthemic beat of “Have a Nice Day”. I like the message of “Welcome to Wherever You Are”. I sing along with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”. And it’s possible I was dancing in my chair at work today while blasting “Story of my Life”, but there were no witnesses and you can’t prove anything! *grin* I truly enjoy every song. When it was first released, I remember thinking, “THIS is the Bon Jovi that I know and love!” I am, sadly it seems, in the minority.
Over the years I’ve seen many comments in cyberspace from folks about how Slippery When Wet is the greatest Bon Jovi record of all time and they wish the band would start making music like that again. I don’t disagree that it’s a great record, but the guys were in their 20s when they made that. If they were still writing songs declaring that love is a social disease, I think I’d worry about them. Artists have to grow and develop and change. I still feel that there is a through line in all the Jovi records that lets me know it’s still my favorite band, but each record also changes and I think that’s great.
Initially I planned to write this piece as a defense of the HAND record since I know there are quite mixed feelings about it, but the writing process of this guest blog post changed my mind. I don’t think this record – or any other – has to be or needs to be defended (ok, ok, maybe I need someone to defend This Left Feels Right to me because I pretty much hate that record). Music is so subjective. It’s based so totally on personal taste. Just because I like or dislike something doesn’t mean it is good or that it’s bad. It simply means that my taste and preferences lean in one direction while someone else’s may lean in another.
I don’t expect to ever change someone’s opinion of the band and their music and its evolution; I can only share mine.
I’m a Jovi lifer. I’ve been at the party since the summer of 1984 when one of my two favorite songs was “She Don’t Know Me” (which is a whole other discussion since that’s the only song they’ve put on a record that they didn’t write and I know they don’t have good feelings about it, but I still love it). I’ve always been in it for the long haul and I personally love how their records change.
Would I want them doing all the way country? Of course not! But I enjoyed Lost Highway as something different. (Yes, I freely admit to liking the Lost Highway record and have no shame in that admission.) I also love cranking up Bounce and some of the hard cranking guitar on that record. Slippery flashes me back to the summer of 1986 when I waited soooo impatiently for its release and couldn’t understand why everyone else in the world didn’t feel the same way. 7800 Fahrenheit makes me think of a conversation with my older brother when I bought it in the summer of 1985. He heard the cassette (you know, those things we had before CDs?) playing in my bedroom and came in and stared at me saying, “Do you know what you bought?” Uh… he was not enthused (and I stopped trying to convert him into a fan years ago). But I sure was!
Do I love very song the band has ever recorded? Of course not! If I never hear “Joey” again it will be too soon. There are others, by why dwell on the negative? Someone out there loves the songs I don’t and hates the songs I love.
Circling back around to Have a Nice Day… I am sitting here typing and listening to the record and keep dancing around in my chair, wanting to sing along, but since I’m writing this blog on my lunch hour at work, I have the feeling full on belting out of tunes is likely frowned upon in the workplace. I’ll keep listening and loving though. That’s how I am with this band. I listen to every song and every record and while I might not love it all, I try to appreciate it. I try to enjoy it and if something isn’t my favorite, well, I have plenty of other tunes to jam to.
In the end, I’m simply grateful that the band keeps releasing new records. What About Now isn’t my favorite (another discussion for another day) and I was sick over the situation with Richie (not a discussion I even want to have anymore), but I still found tunes to enjoy on the new record. And if they release things that don’t thrill me on every track, well, I can always go back to Have a Nice Day and crank it up and have a listen.
What do you think of Have a Nice Day or the band's more recent output? What's your favourite Bon Jovi album?
About the Blogger:
Shannon works in higher education in South Carolina and is currently studying conversational French in an attempt not to shame herself greatly when she one day runs away to live in Paris. She has been a Bon Jovi fan since the summer of 1984 when she first discovered the band via MTV and the video for "She Don't Know Me". She first saw the band live in October 1985 in Columbia, SC when they were opening for the band Ratt in support of the 7800° Fahrenheit record after begging her parents for tickets for her 14th birthday. She's seen the band live 7 times (2 times in Columbia, SC - 1985 and 1989; Atlanta, GA in 2003; Charlotte, NC in 2006, 2010 and 2013; and Greenville, SC in 2006) and still gets a little giddy that David Bryan saw her "Happy Birthday" sign in 2006. Another proud moment is that she attended all but the 2013 show with her father, who started going with his teenager daughter to shows to keep her safe, but eventually turned into a big fan who never wanted to miss a gig! Shannon blogs about this and that (though admittedly not a lot about Bon Jovi) at Blonde Ambition (www.bonjovigrrrl.blogspot.com) and you can follow her on Twitter (@bonjovigrrrl), though she makes no promises about the nonsense she might tweet!