Bon Jovi did big business at the box office this year. During the turmoil of Sambora’s departure, Jon Bon Jovi said that he is not beholden to anyone and that the show will go on. This view point was even more evident when the final Australian leg of the tour was renamed to “Because We Did” from “Because We Can”.
I remember watching them at the recent Sydney show and thinking, man it would be so cool if they brought some of their more obscure songs and made a real night of it. The running time for the show was just over two and a half hours. So I started thinking about some semi-obscure tracks. Then again, are there really any obscure Bon Jovi tracks. Of course everyone knows the singles and even some of those songs have now slipped into obscurity and the radio platforms never go deep enough when they curate their playlists.
THE HARDEST PART IS THE NIGHT
Written by Jon Bon Jovi, David Bryan and Richie Sambora. It is from the “7800 Degrees Fahrenheit” album released in 1985.
What makes the track is the synths however there is still that Richie Sambora grit with some tasty virtuoso guitar work in the metallic interlude and solo section.
And let’s not forget the harmonies. This is what the album experience is all about. I’ve never heard “The Hardest Part Is The Night” anywhere else except in my own comfort. Then I saw a live performance video clip of it on the “Breakout” video and it cemented itself as a favourite. Yes, we live in a world of Top Forty charts that focus on the songs that moguls believe are hits however ask anybody and they will tell that the non-hit tracks from an album had as much impact as the “hits”.
“Your just a pawn in a losing game
You lose at life it aint no game”
This theme of working hard and still struggling in life would be done to multi-platinum success with “Livin On A Prayer” and “Born To Be My Baby”. This is where it all started. The main character is battling to succeed however he is just a pawn in a losing game.
“Stay alive, the hardest part is the night”
This is when you lay in bed and you just can’t sleep. Things at work could be worrying you, financial matters could be worrying you, health issues could be worrying you. This is when we contemplate, in the night, laying there in the dark.
The hardest part is the night, as we torture ourselves mentally.
Listen to how Sambora plays the Chorus riff. It is a technique that he will employ again in “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “I’d Die For You”.
It is up on YouTube on various channels. The “LoveYouAlec” channel has 192,509 views. The “bonjovi608” channel has 51,236 views. Numerous other channels also have different versions up.
What do the YouTube stats tell me? It is telling me that the song is slowly slipping into obscurity. Even though it has a small fan base that connects with it, compared to other numbers that Bon Jovi are achieving, this song is in the nose bleeds section of the stadium.
SHOT THROUGH THE HEART’
From the debut album released in 1984. “Runaway” took most of the glory as it became a radio staple however to me “Shot Through The Heart” was the reason why I got into Bon Jovi. They even used the title in the “You Give Love A Bad Name” chorus. When I first heard “You Give Love A Bad Name” I came in halfway through, so I thought the song was called “Shot Through The Heart”, so when I went to purchase the album, I saw the “Slippery When Wet” album first and it didn’t have a song on it called “Shot Through The Heart”. I picked up the debut album and saw it on there, so I purchased that instead.
It was written by Jon Bon Jovi and Jack Ponti. Jack Ponti was the guitarist in the band “The Rest” that also featured a very young Jon Bon Jovi on vocals. Despite having some serious endorsements from Southside Johnny and Billy Squier, the band failed to obtain a recording contract and split up. Is the song a leftover from those days?
In an interview with The Aquarian website, this is what Ponti had to say on “The Rest”.
“It was too much time spent on the edge of making it that lead to the frustration and ultimate breakup. It was an important part in the development of my career and Jon Bon Jovi’s career.”
In a separate interview on the Dry County website, this is what Ponti had to say about “Shot Through The Heart.”
“Jon and I remained friends after the Rest. He came over and said “I want to write a song with the title, Shot Through The Heart”, so we did. He was getting songs together for his demo. I know it was over 29 years ago because my wife was pregnant and my daughter is 29. It was written in NJ of course, Toms River to be exact. I think the hook was stronger than on the record, but it’s fine. It’s an important song for both Jon and me in many ways. All your songs are like your children.”
Jack Ponti of course would go on to write with a string of other artists and went on a platinum/Grammy winning home run multiple times.
The track has this infectious piano riff. As the track soldiers it becomes more powerful, especially during the chorus. Again Sambora goes to town in this song, showing his melodic chops.
When you go on YouTube and search for “Shot Through The Heart” the first video that comes back is the official clip of “You Give Love A Bad Name” that has 42,667,226 views on the Bon Jovi Vevo channel.
However, the song “Shot Through The Heart” from the self-titled debut album has the following numbers on different user channels. User “Chris R” has the song at 355,075 views. User “bobjovilover98” has the song at 182,818 views. User “bobsnidery” has the song at 219,479 views. User “xxis16” has the song at 157,683 views. User “ichigo6232” has the song at 123,763 views. User “The Music4Life01” has the song at 148,540 views. It total, 1,187,358 views.
It was good to see the song get some concert time during “The Circle” tour.
It’s written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora and it’s got this heavy blues rock swagger that just makes it connect.
On “Slippery When Wet” it all came together for Bon Jovi and suddenly they were playing arenas and in some cases stadiums. Then with New Jersey, what can I say. If you were in Australia in the summer of ‘88, “New Jersey” played from every car and every house window. This song came from left field. It was on “New Jersey” released in 1988 and sandwiched amongst all the top 10 singles in “Bad Medicine”, “Born To Be My Baby” and “I’ll Be There For You.”
The track is good but the magic is at the three minute mark when it goes into this Elvis Presley meets James Brown meets Rolling Stones vibe. The guitar drops out and it is the bass and drums that keep the groove going and Jon does a few voice impersonations, while Sambora keeps it funky and they build up the song again when Jon keeps singing “Here I Come”. The interlude is filled with church organ and harmonica lead breaks.
On “The Circle” tour, “Homebound Train” came back into the mix with Richie Sambora on vocals. It is a fitting tribute as Richie is the main creating force on this song. Go on YouTube and watch the band have some fun rocking out to it.
“When I was just a boy
The devil took my hand
Took me from my home
He made me a man”
It’s that whole Robert Johnson legend again. It’s also playing on the term that “Rock N Roll” is the devils music. Listening to the music and letting it take you away. The power of music when done right.
STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN
It’s got this “Rock N Roll Aint Noise Pollution” style intro. This song was released as a bonus track on the Australian version of “Keep The Faith” along with the very U2ish sounding “Save A Prayer”. It is another song written by the Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child song writing team
“I been waiting
Standing in the dark of hours
Trying to find the faith and the power
To get back home to you”
It’s got that loneliness vibe that we all feel when we get homesick. “Starting All Over Again” was written after the marathon “New Jersey” tour that more or less happened straight after the marathon “Slippery When Wet” tour.
Jon really throws his voice out in this song and it nails the emotion perfectly. You feel the pain of the constant album/tour cycle that he was on since 1983 to 1990.
“Do you remember
Remember the odds we were given
When we had nothing
And we thought that was living”
Once Bon Jovi made it, the haters came out. When everything gets bigger, the hate is bigger. For a musician to make it in the music business, the odds are really stacked against them.
First and foremost, back in 1983, bands needed to get that record deal to get their music out. So, getting signed is one obstacle. Then once you get signed, it doesn’t mean the record label will give you the all clear to go in and record. They could reject all the demos. That is another obstacle. Once you make a record, it doesn’t mean that people will hear it. That all depends on marketing and word of mouth recommendations. That is another obstacle. Once people hear it, it doesn’t mean that they will like it as all art is subjective. That is another obstacle.
Bon Jovi by album number three overcame all of these obstacles and created a fan base that borrowed from all kinds of genres. When you think of cultural icons, Bon Jovi (the band) is one of them. You also need to remember that just because Bon Jovi had a record deal, it didn’t mean that he had money. When Richie and Jon started to write songs for Slippery When Wet, they were still living with their parents and owed their record label $500,000. Like the lyric states “When we had nothing and we thought that was living.”
“Here’s to our old friend
Who helped us get by
Here’s to the dreamers
May dreams never die
If we believe
We can keep the good times alive”
Let’s have a drink in celebration to all of the people that assisted and let’s have another drink to all the people that are trying to make it. In a way, “Don’t Stop Believin”. If YouTube is a sign of virality then this song has none. Like “The Hardest Part Is The Night” it is slowly being forgotten. For a lot of Bon Jovi fans, they haven’t even heard it.
THE RADIO SAVED MY LIFE TONIGHT
Another tune written for the “Keep The Faith” album that never made it. It is written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora.
It’s got that major key vibe and it connects with my youth as a regional city kid with dreams. Putting on the radio to listen to the latest in rock. To buy all the music that I like was expensive, so I always purchased blank cassettes and kept my finger ready on the record button to record the latest song.
The radio gave me and many others the freedom and the opportunity to enjoy the music that we liked. This was before advertisers and shareholders strangled it to death by creating playlists based on who pays the most.
“I tried to sleep but in my mind I heard that song
Like a friend in need, the melody keeps me hanging on”
I always went to sleep with music roaming in my headspace. Once a melody captures the imagination, it is forever engraved. This song is vintage Jovi. That is when music works best. When the artist reveals all their insecurities and lets us know that they may not be exactly just like us, but they’re just as screwed up. We are all flawed. The most famous rock and metal stars are messed up like all of us.
The days of the past are gone. The hopes and dreams of youth are also gone, however, the music from the past still lives on. It is our soundtrack.