Sunday, June 9, 2024

Track by track thoughts on Bon Jovi's Forever

Black and white photo of Jon Bon Jovi standing on a busy street with his back to the camera. The back of his jacket reads "Bon Jovi Forever".
Bon Jovi's Forever album cover

Bon Jovi's latest album Forever dropped on June 7 and I've listened to it quite a few times in the last two days. My pre-ordered CD from Japan also arrived this weekend so it was great timing.

Obviously the album is still a shiny new toy, but here's my initial take on each track (with lyric videos where available). Feel free to add your own thoughts, including completely disagreeing with me

Legendary - written by Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Falcon & John Shanks

 "Legendary" was the lead single so I've written about it already, but I didn't post the lyric video at the time. My thoughts haven't changed too much -- I like the song without being blown away by it, and it does still make me happy to see Jon looking happy. (The demo version actually sounds better though, but more on that further down.)

We Made It Look Easy - written by Jon Bon Jovi, Ryan Tedder, Andrew DeRoberts & Nick Long

A look back at the early days of the band. I really like those high backing vocals in the chorus -- is that Everett Bradley? There are no personnel credits listed in the liner notes as far as I can see, so I'm just going by the sound of the voice. Glad Shanks didn't write this, lol... oops, am I letting my snark out?

Living Proof - written by Jon Bon Jovi & John Shanks

Already wrote about "Living Proof" as well, and I'm still digging it. Wish it'd been the first single now, since "Legendary" seems to be the one that's getting played whenever Jon does promo for the album -- and I think it would've been more interesting for casuals and randos to hear this instead. And yes, Shanks co-wrote the song... but I'm not that perturbed about his songwriting, really. It's his influence over the Bon Jovi brand that's the issue; his writing is fine in itself.

Waves - written by Jon Bon Jovi, John Shanks & Jason Isbell

My ears really perked up when I first heard this. Cool sound, great lyrics. I'm not overly familiar with Jason Isbell's body of work, but if that's his contribution, they should write with him more.

Actually, this would also be a more interesting single choice than what they usually go for, but it won't happen because no one in the Bon Jovi camp cares for my brilliant ideas, lol.

Seeds - written by Jon Bon Jovi, Ryan Tedder, Sean Douglas & Michael Pollack

Jon said "Seeds" is probably his favourite song on the album. I like this one too, it's got a catchy little poetry to it.

Kiss the Bride - written by Jon Bon Jovi & Billy Falcon

This one is pretty gooey. But most wedding songs are written from the point of view of the couple, so it's sweet that Jon wrote one from the father of the bride's perspective for Stephanie. Just not really something I'm likely to gravitate to ordinarily. I do prefer "I Got the Girl", which was written for a then-five-year-old Stephanie... speaking of which, do Jesse, Jake and Romeo have songs written about them?

The People's House - written by Jon Bon Jovi

This song wouldn't sound out of place on a much earlier album. Like, say, something from the 90s? A tick from me.

Walls of Jericho - written by Jon Bon Jovi, John Shanks & Philip Lawrence

This was the other track (after "Waves") that I immediately wanted to play again when I heard it. I also totally want this to be a single, and know it almost certainly won't happen. But the song rocks, it's rousing, it's anthemic, Jon sounds great, and the only thing that would make it better is a guitar solo.

I Wrote You a Song - written by Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Falcon & John Shanks

It's a good thing that Ed Sheeran is probably the least likely artist to go around suing people at the moment, because this song has "Thinking Out Loud" all over it. I'm going to assume it was accidental, lol.

Living in Paradise - written by Jon Bon Jovi & Ed Sheeran

But befriending and collaborating with someone is also a good way to avoid getting sued by them, haha. 

Funnily enough, I've seen every Ed Sheeran concert in Perth so far, including a gig at the Riverside Theatre, where he was literally tuning his own guitar between songs. (Less than a year later, he played two sold out gigs at Challenge Stadium and has just gone upwards from there.) I don't know if my Ed attendance record will continue, but I'm a big fan of his acoustic songs and what he does with the loop station, while not being as keen on some of his big poppier stuff. I like "Living in Paradise" though -- it's good, solid power pop.

My First Guitar - written by Jon Bon Jovi

Jon wrote this about buying back his childhood guitar. I like the verses more than the chorus, which feels a bit melodramatic somehow, but it's alright.

Hollow Man - written by Jon Bon Jovi

Jon's always sounded good on these pensive acoustic songs. Some fans hate them, and you obviously don't want the whole album full of them, but they suit where he's at in his life right now and feel genuine. The masturbate line made me laugh (or smile), which I guess was the point, ha.

That Was Then, This Is Now (Japanese bonus track)

My Japanese is very rusty but I don't think the Japan CD listed the songwriter(s) for "That Was Then, This Is Now". It contained the same album booklet as the Australian CD (and I'm assuming other markets), but included an additional insert in Japanese. This insert had what appears to be an introduction of the band's history by music writer Masa Ito, and the Japanese translation of the lyrics.

Anyway, really cool sounding, wistful rock song that coulda/shoulda made the album proper, but whatever. I've felt that way about other outtakes before. Jon clearly ain't gonna listen to my awesome advice, as we've established. 😉

Legendary demo (Japanese bonus track)

Not drastically different from the version that made the cut, but I just like it a lot better. It sounds less polished, but in a good way. It feels more real, not so much like Jon sitting in a studio with John Shanks, crafting what they think a Bon Jovi single in the 21st century is "supposed" to sound like.


Very early days, but I love the album overall. Yes, Shanks' fingerprints are on it (I should probably make peace with that) but Jon can still write a great song. He sounds pretty good if not amazing, though obviously he's not going for crazy high notes. 

But I'd love the rest of the band to have more direct input. My main gripe with current Bon Jovi is that it seems to be the JBJ + Shanks show, when you have these other awesome musicians at your disposal. Give them the freedom to be as brilliant as they can be, and I have every faith they will be.

Maybe on the road or on the next album. But for now, we've got Forever and I'm happy with it.

Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊
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1 comment:

Thanks for giving me your time.