Sunday, May 5, 2024

Thank You, Goodnight: a Bon Jovi fan's reflections

Promotional picture for Thank You Goodnight: The Bon Jovi story.

Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story
dropped a little over a week ago -- it was waiting for me on Disney+ in Australia when I got home on a Friday night. 

Now, I didn't try to rush out and be the first to write about it because:

a) "breaking news" isn't my vision for the blog -- and there are plenty of other fans, podcasters, etc. covering that ground;

b) I didn't want to just binge all four episodes right away at the expense of being able to process what I was watching;

c) I do have other things in my life, including needing to be awake and alert for Saturday morning commitments, instead of being tired and distracted by thoughts of Bon Jovi.

So I watched it over a few days, chatted to some people about it, and then came back here.

What do I think?

Honestly, I love it. Is it perfect? No, but it was enough for me. Is it very Jon-centric? Sure, but the elephant of the decade (Jon's voice) was a key factor in Bon Jovi's success during their prime, and is integral to any future they may have.

At times it was quite heartbreaking to see his struggles with his voice laid bare. I mean, we've all heard it. I've blogged about it. Other fans have talked about it. News articles were written about it on that rough 2022 tour. But we also saw him being aware of it and trying to do something. We saw the other guys on stage trying to pull him through and support him.

As for Richie Sambora... well, I'm really glad he's in the documentary. I think he still has a massive chip on his shoulder, but I also completely understand him feeling pushed aside by John Shanks during the What About Now sessions. An album which, given what transpired afterwards, I don't think I've listened to since 2013.

Speaking of which, Shanks comes across kind of badly in his interview -- his little smirk and chuckle about being the guy between Jon and Richie made me uncomfortable. It could've just been nervous laughter, of course. I giggle when I'm nervous, and since I don't know Shanks at all, I can't possibly say he had any malicious intent. But yeah, it just didn't look that great.

There are plenty of fans who simp for Jon or Richie, think the other is the devil, and had already made up their minds long before this documentary aired. Nothing about it would've changed their thinking. But most of the criticisms levelled at one man could easily apply to the other. They both have rock star egos, they both twist or embellish details to make themselves look better, they're both stubborn AF. Like seriously, bros, you were both in your goddamn 50s when all this went down... be better!

But I'd love to see Richie back in the band, Phil X as the "other guitarist" and Shanks just... not? I don't hate the guy. I mean, he came on board to produce Have a Nice Day, an album that probably saved my life when I was a teenager. But it seems weird for him to have had this much influence over the band -- and particularly Jon -- for such a long period of time.

Speaking of guitarists, Bobby Bandiera should've been interviewed. He was around for almost a decade, from the Have a Nice Day tour until the end of Because We Can tour... and I think he'd have had some interesting things to say about that time, if he was willing to share.

Before anyone else brings it up, long-time manager Paul Korzilius wrongly claimed the 1995 "Live in London" shows were the last shows at Wembley Stadium, but I'm very confident he just misremembered, and there was no deliberate lie there. (Probs could've been fact-checked in post-production though.)

Super cool to hear a decent sounding recording of "Cadillac Man" from the archives. Here's a performance of this underrated song, from Osaka in 1991 -- how freaking good:

So yes... in summary, I enjoyed the documentary. Wouldn't have hurt to hear a little more from the rest of the band, past and present (though Alec John Such passed away before he could be interviewed). And it might have been a bit tighter with less previous footage woven in (e.g. from Access All Areas and When We Were Beautiful). But all in all, it was worth watching. For me, at least.

I know there are a lot of folks for whom Bon Jovi ended when Richie left, or when they "went country", or "got too commercial" or whatever.

There's an Australian band that I used to absolutely love, and a big part of that was their long-term lineup (which wasn't the original lineup, but the one I got to know on tour over about 10 years). Now that lineup is no more and I find myself just not being able to get excited about them, not going to their live shows anymore, etc. There were many times I thought that could be happening with me and Bon Jovi, but... no, not yet anyway. They're my band. They're still my band. Even as they are now, not quite where I want them to be. I guess that's the realisation I got from Thank You, Goodnight. The heart and dagger tattoo on my back is forever -- literally, but also figuratively.

Have you watched Thank You, Goodnight yet? What do you think?

PS. I have not forgotten about Richie's new music. It's cool that he (or his new marketing/PR person?) realised that there's a lot of renewed interest in him thanks to the documentary, and he should totally take advantage of it. I'll make a separate post for the new tunes.

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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  1. Good Morning from the state of Minnesota USA! I’ve followed your blog for a while & was curious to hear your thoughts on the documentary. I agree with everything you said - and agree about the song needing to get PhilXed! 🙂 I did have a couple questions I thought you might have some insight on.
    1. Why couldn’t Hugh tell anyone that he played on the first few albums? Why was that kept a secret?
    2. Richie…..I thought when he was at the arena with the band & flew home from there or am I remembering that wrong?
    3. Just a general observation….could Jon please get rid of John Shanks & actually use Phil X guitar skills???? The songs are all starting to sound the same & if I hear that same guitar riff & a bunch of whoa whoa whoa’s my head might explode! 🤯
    Thanks! 😊

    1. Hey there! I'll do my best.

      1. I'd say it's just because Hugh was a session musician and Alec was the official bass player who was in all the pictures and would be playing the parts on stage... so no one wanted to ruin the magic. If you look at the liner notes of the earlier albums, they do thank "Huey McDonald" but don't say why.

      2. If I recall correctly, everyone else flew in the day before from the east coast, while Richie was supposed to arrive from LA on the day of the show.

      3. I'm with you - Phil getting the chance to cut loose and actually show off what he's capable of would add a really awesome rocking element to the band.


Thanks for giving me your time.