Song of the day 9/16

Posted: September 16, 2011 in J.C. Personal
Tags: ,

This song today comes to us from the home of “Buzz” Aldrin, Gary Brackett, Danny DeVito, Damon Lindelof, Ricky Nelson, Kevin Smith and John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. also known as Jon Bon Jovi. I am, of course, talking about New Jersey. Interestingly, (okay, maybe it’s not really interesting) none of the cast of Jersey Shore was born there and while I would LOVE to see the celebrities above spend the summer in a house together, my ideas for television shows are rarely produced. Featured in the movie “Young Guns” the song is “Wanted Dead or Alive” from Bon Jovi’s third album, Slippery When Wet. Released in 1986, the “Wanted Dead or Alive” single contained “Never Say Goodbye” on the “B” side and went to number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. This marked the first time a “hard rock” album had 3 singles in the top 10.

The song is Bon Jovi’s tribute to the heroes of the old west, likening the life of a touring rock musician to that of an outlaw. Loved and hated by many (or wanted dead or alive), Bon Jovi and the song’s co-author Ritchie Sambora paint a picture of themselves as outlaws that ride into town, take the money, women and booze and are gone before sun-up. Obviously inspired by Bob Segar’s “Turn the Page”, “Wanted Dead or Alive” was the first song on what was to be Bon Jovi’s Old-West themed album, this project never materialized.

Bon Jovi owes a portion of their massive success to MTV’s embrace of their camera friendly looks, hometown persona, and concert footage music videos. The video for “Wanted Dead or Alive” was shot in black and white and shows exhausted band members on the road from city to city. It was filmed during the band’s 1986-1987 world tour.

The song has been used in several television shows and films, from Deadliest Catch to Miami Vice, the song is even performed in the 80s soundtracked musical Rock of Ages. Even more have referenced specific lines from the song, “Wedding Crashers” and “American Dad” to name just a couple.

The song does a great job of combining the glamor of the outlaw cowboy with the contemporary idea of the rock star life, but it does not ignore the toll such a lifestyle can take on someone. The opening lines: “It’s all the same, only the names change. Every day, it seems we’re wasting away” allow us to see the road weariness and the fear that a musical act will be replaced by the next big thing.

Whether you love them or hate them, there is no doubt that “Wanted Dead or Alive” belongs high on a list of great power ballads from the 80s and while I can’t identify with having seen a million faces, I’m read by a handful people, hope this one rocks you all.

See ya on the “B” side.

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