Sunday, October 18, 2020

That Jon vs Richie thing again...

I wasn't even going to touch this one with a ten-foot virtual pole at first. But then people in my life, who aren't really Bon Jovi fans but know that I am, started bringing it up and asking for my thoughts on the matter. To the point where it started to feel odd that I wasn't saying anything when I have an entire blog dedicated to Bon Jovi.

So here goes.

Ahead of the release of 2020, Jon was interviewed via Zoom by Thomas Moser from Rock Antenne in Germany. Here's the interview:

At around the 9:50 mark, Jon was asked if he had any regrets in his career, to which he replied there were very few because even bad things had led to other good things. But he did say this about  Richie Sambora, which has been plucked out and republished elsewhere:

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't wish that Richie had his life together and was still in the band. And yet, you know, in a weird way it's because of his inability to get it together anymore that we went on and wrote This House Is Not For Sale, and it was a very strong record, and that I'm able to write songs like this. Maybe we would've gotten lazy. Maybe we would've been... I don't know where we would've gone. But through all that pain and heartbreak came this."

The reason I wasn't going to blog about it initially is that... I kind of put all this to bed a few years ago. I like Bon Jovi. I like Jon. I like Richie. I make no apologies about that.

I don't subscribe to the view that Bon Jovi is dead because Richie isn't there. Or that Richie was the One and Only True Talent of the band. That's pretty disrespectful to David Bryan and Tico Torres, who are still there as original members, and Hugh McDonald who's been around longer than Alec John Such was. 

But neither am I going to dismiss Richie's hugely important contributions to the band. Richie co-wrote some of my favourite songs of all time, songs that made Bon Jovi what they are. His guitar work and harmonies define a lot of what people recognise as Bon Jovi. So of course it's different now that he's gone.

Richie's pals came out to defend him and get stuck into Jon, including former Fox and NBC News anchor Megyn Kelly:

"I was in a dire situation with my family and I had to make a tough decision and I did and I'm sure people weren't happy about it"

Look, I personally don't buy the "I left to spend time with my daughter" story. Because a) you can do that without leaving your band in the lurch on the day of a concert, and b) for most of 2013, Richie was still talking about rejoining the band later in the tour. So I think spending more time with Ava ended up being a wonderful by-product of not being in Bon Jovi anymore rather than the reason. But I'm glad Ava seems to have turned out really well.

Is Jon seeking attention for his new albums by bringing Richie up? Perhaps. But I liked This House Is Not For Sale, especially "Living with the Ghost" (which is about Richie's departure, so obviously it couldn't have been written without it). And I think some of the songs on 2020 are the best material that's been released under the Bon Jovi name in maybe 20 years. Sure, it's a Jon-centric record, and probably not what they'd be releasing if Richie were still writing Bon Jovi songs. But it's a good album. Well, I think so, anyway. So I think Jon might actually be right about that particular silver lining.

And I'm eye-rolling pretty hard at all the keyboard warriors fawning over Richie's parenting while bringing up Jon's daughter's overdose at college. Like those same people wouldn't have been taking cheap shots at Richie's mug shot appearance after he was caught driving drunk with his then-10-year-old child in car.

But as I said before -- I like both Jon and Richie. Neither is by any means perfect, but their music is a part of me. I love the latest Bon Jovi album and I'm keen to listen to Richie's next solo album. I'd love some sort of a reunion someday, but I don't expect it to happen, and I'm okay with that.

P.S. I reckon the Rock Antenne interview with Jon was pretty good. That's probably been lost in all this drama. Another good one is the interview Jon did with GQ Magazine recently, where he talks about the making of 2020, the campaign against him in Buffalo, and patriotism.

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Friday, October 9, 2020

JBJ on the Rich Eisen Show

Jon Bon Jovi recently phoned into the Rich Eisen Show, where he talked about NFL, the 2020 album, the Soul Foundation and Soul Kitchens, and the late great Eddie Van Halen:

Rich Eisen is a sports broadcaster, in case you're wondering why so much of the interview is dedicated to Jon's relationship with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. American football happens to be my least favourite football code (sorry not sorry ðŸĪŠ), but the interview was cool.

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Thursday, October 8, 2020

Beautiful Drug on Ellen

Bon Jovi beamed into Ellen for a socially distanced performance of "Beautiful Drug", which I assume/hope is the next single from 2020. Greg Mayo filled in for David Bryan on keys:

I wish "Beautiful Drug" had been the lead single. Having said that, the fact that the first two songs I did hear from 2020 were very uninspiring to me, and I now absolutely love the album, is testament to how strong the other tracks are. In my humble opinion, of course. Obviously if you hate the album, you'll disagree with those sentiments. 🙂

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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Bon Jovi on the socially distanced Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Bon Jovi's 2020 album promo continued on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, with Jon chatting to Colbert via video. 

Jon talked about working the JBJ Soul Kitchens and food pantries during COVID, being mentored by Sister Mary Scullion, his Catholic upbringing, and quarantining with his family:

And of course, they discussed about the new album:

The band then socially distanced to perform "Do What You Can", with Greg Mayo again filling in for David Bryan:

I really enjoyed the interview, actually. It seemed fun, relaxed. And in "Do What You Can", Jon appeared more animated than he has in some of other performances where the band has been playing to no one.

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Monday, October 5, 2020

2020 deluxe version + GMA, iHeartRadio

In what seems like a weird move, a deluxe version of Bon Jovi's 2020 album has been quietly released to download and streaming services three days after the standard version came out. In addition to the 10 tracks on the original version, the deluxe edition contains three bonus tracks:
  • "Do What You Can" - duet version with Jennifer Nettles
  • "Shine"
  • "Luv Can"
The latter two were already on the Japanese edition of the album. I had ordered a CD from Japan but it'll take a while to ship to me so I'm very happy to be able to get the tracks in the meantime.

"Shine" and "Luv Can" have been circulating online for the last couple of days, so the sudden release of the deluxe album might be in response to that. Or maybe it was planned. But hey, I would've liked a 12-track album in the first place. 😉

Anyway, there's obviously a new album to promote, so I'll be posting some of that on this blog over the coming days/weeks.

Here's Jon's interview with Good Morning America, where talks about 2020 and collaborating with Jennifer again, among other things:

And here's Bon Jovi's performance on the show of "Do What You Can", with Jennifer Nettles joining remotely and Greg Mayo filling in for David Bryan:

Jon also joined Jim Kerr on iHeartRadio to celebrate the release of 2020. The segment featured an interview with Jon interspersed with recordings of recent live performances. It included the live debuts of "American Reckoning" and "Beautiful Drug", as well as "Do What You Can", "It's My Life", and "Livin' on a Prayer":

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Friday, October 2, 2020

Bon Jovi 2020 is out now

A month out from the US election, on a day that the incumbent tweeted that he had tested positive to COVID-19... Bon Jovi: 2020 was finally released and you can download or stream it now.

Bon Jovi 2020 album cover featuring a photo of Jon wearing sunglasses

I mention elections and presidents because the album cover was inspired by a shot of John F. Kennedy, and the album title partly inspired by the fact that it's an election year in America. Funnily enough, I never mentioned the cover on this blog even when 2020 was originally meant to come out in May. It's a cool photo of Jon, though I'm not sold on it being the album cover... I guess I'd prefer something a little more abstract. Or band-oriented. But hey, we all know Bon Jovi is Jon's ship, so whatever.

Now onto the music.

It's early days but I am really loving 2020. I know it polarises people when Jon "gets political" or "tries to be Springsteen"... but screw that. Besides, much of the world is pretty effed in 2020 and if you're going to call your album 2020, you might as well make it a little time capsule of the world as it is. 

When "American Reckoning" dropped, I had discussions with a few people about whether or not it was too on the nose. Certainly, there's no mistaking what it's about. But I actually like that Jon got specific. There are plenty of generic Bon Jovi songs already ("Have a Nice Day" was supposedly a sneaky diss track aimed at George Bush, but you'd never know it).

My first-impression faves from 2020 are "Beautiful Drug", "Story of Love", "Lower the Flag", and "Blood in the Water".

But I'm digging the album as a whole. Considering I was very lukewarm about "Unbroken" and "Limitless", the rest of it has ended up sounding pretty damn good in my ears. I could be getting caught up in the moment, of course. But as of 2nd October 2020, I approve. 👍

What are your early impressions of the album?

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