Thursday, April 23, 2020

Doing what you can in the time of coronavirus

From his home studio, Jon Bon Jovi performed "Do What You Can" in its entirety for the first time as part of Jersey 4 Jersey on April 22 -- a night of Jersey stars coming together to benefit the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund:

Inspired by life in COVID-19 lockdown, "Do What You Can" has had an intriguing journey. It kicked off in March when a photo of Jon washing dishes at the JBJ Soul Kitchen was posted to Instagram with the caption, "If you can't do what you do... do what you can."

A post shared by Jon Bon Jovi (@jonbonjovi) on

That became the hook of a new song that Jon debuted a few days later. He sang a verse and chorus and invited fans to add their own verses telling their own stories:

Selected fans' verses have been played by Jon and shared on Bon Jovi's social media channels in the weeks since.

Here's Jon singing verses by Adriana, Geoffrey, and Bryce:

And Jon at the keyboard singing verses by Kristen, Maritza, Tanya, and Luca:

Jon also showcased video performances from Clint, Eleven, and Andre:

Others have contributed their own verses, and at a time when we need the world to come together (but not physically), it's pretty cool to see the power of music, social media and technology at work.

Even though I didn't immediately rush over here to blog about it, I felt a sense of pride in Jon that I hadn't felt in a while. Not that I was ashamed of him or anything. But just like Bon Jovi has changed, so I have I. I still love them (and by extension Jon) and I'm sure I always will, but they're not the singular focus/obsession they were when I started this blog as a teenager.

Anyway, the pride I felt was because there was something raw and honest about "Do What You Can". At least I thought so, and it's my blog. 😉

We've previously heard two songs from Bon Jovi 2020 -- "Unbroken" and "Limitless" -- and I haven't loved them. I've kind of felt like they were trying too hard and not really hitting the mark. (Both the original and the Invictus Games Choir version of "Unbroken" are supporting good causes though.)

But "Do What You Can" feels real to me. It feels like a guy from New Jersey, looking at what's happening around him, and expressing himself through song. It may not be the greatest song ever written. And sure, his voice isn't what it was. It didn't matter. It was the right song at the right time, when I was looking for a spark of hope amidst the confusion and uncertainty. And that's ultimately why I keep coming back to Bon Jovi -- when I've needed them, they've had the right songs for me.

Speaking of the power of music... my last few posts have alluded to the fact that I'm playing catch-up on this blog, and one thing I didn't post at the time was this Chicago singalong of "Livin' on a Prayer" in March, inspired by Italians in isolation singing on their balconies:

It's testament to the endurance of that song. And who doesn't feel better when they're cranking up or belting out "Livin' on a Prayer"?

Back to more recent history, Jon closed Jersey 4 Jersey with an acoustic rendition of "Livin' on a Prayer" that felt appropriate:

We're living in tough times. And we're doing what we can to get to the other side.
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