Many of you who read my blog know me personally and therefore know about my past. For those of you who don’t know me, however, let me fill you in– I used to be addicted. No, not to drugs. Certainly not to helping. But I was very much addicted to Bon Jovi. I’ll let that sink in.
I didn’t like to use the words “addiction” or “obsession” when referring to my love for the Jovi. I’d insist that I was merely enthusiastic or a dedicated fan. But the truth is, I was a high-functioning, “Livin’ on a Prayer” belting, a “steel horse” is a TOUR BUS-ing Jovi Head for many years, starting at the young, impressionable age of 10. Bon Jovi was to me what coke was to Drew Barrymore.
My dad was my primary enabler. Every Christmas, birthday or Boxing Day, he’d shower me with Jovi memorabilia. Vintage Bon Jovi records? I’ve got all of ‘em. Every unofficial bio in existence? Check. Jon and Richie “action figures”? Uh, yep. Those too. And I don’t just own all their studio albums. No, I own 130+ Bon Jovi CDs including singles, imports, live discs, and remasters. I bet you had no idea.
That’s because my love for Bon Jovi has died down in recent years. This is for a number of reasons, but I’d say the fact that their last good album was 11 years ago has something to do with it. Okay, arguably none of their albums were good. I NEVER SAID THEY WERE THE BEST BAND IN THE WORLD, PEOPLE. They were just my favorite. I feel the need to explain the fact that I know they’re by no means musical geniuses, because I’ve often been judged harshly due to the fact that Bon Jovi was my #1. There’s another demographic I can think of that many people rightly believe shouldn’t be judged based on who they love, so WHY SHOULD I BE ANY DIFFERENT?
I wonder how many followers I’ll lose because I got all tongue-in-cheek and compared my strife to that of the LGBTQQRSTUVWXYZetc. people out there. And for getting all hyperbolic with the ever-changing acronym. But I’m getting off-track.
Bon Jovi did actually have a few good albums. And even on the not-so-good albums, there were some gems. Their 1995 release, “These Days,” was so un-Jovi that you probably wouldn’t be able to guess the band’s name if it were withheld. So, by “un-Jovi,” I mean musically complex, lyrically interesting, and kind of depressing. Incidentally, “These Days” is my favorite Bon Jovi album.
As I grew up, my love for the band progressed from decorating my homework with “Bon Jovi Rocks!” to keeping a Bon Jovi journal with a detailed discography, collection of press clippings, and lyrics from every album to, much further down the road, deepening indifference. I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I felt as if I was having an identity crisis. If I admitted I no longer had the same affection for the band as I once had, did that mean the person I was for almost 10 years meant nothing? Did I even know who I WAS anymore? This was perhaps the low-point of my addiction. The fact that I was concerned that I wasn’t addicted enough.
I got to meet the band when I was about 12 or so. By “meet,” I mean stammer when the really short drummer Tico offered to sign my shirt, be rejected by the keyboardist David who WOULDN’T sign my shirt, and feel like I could die of happiness when I got a wave, smile and “hello” from the uber-hotties Jon and Richie from a distance. (The humor in the fact that I was so obsessed with dad-aged rockers does not escape me.)
The high point of my Bon Jovi career, however, came during the phase in which my love had already started to dim. In 2009, my dad and I got media passes to the Les Paul tribute in Cleveland just a year or so before the legend himself died. Richie performed at the concert, and we sneakily made it into the after-party simply by acting as if we belonged there. Lo and behold, there was Richie (and Slash, but who cares about Slash?) lounging behind a velvet rope. Though I was a Jon girl in my younger years (the guy’s got a killer smile. And hair. But we make fun of his hair.), I eventually came to realize that Richie was the true talent. His voice is just better! And the guitar! So my dreams were about to come true. After a glass of champagne, I felt comfortable enough to chat politely– and like a sane human being– with Bon Jovi’s tour manager. WHO THEN SO WONDERFULLY INTRODUCED ME PERSONALLY TO RICHIE SAMBORA. YES, INDEED. WHAT WAS I EVER THINKING WHEN I SAID BON JOVI WASN’T MY FAVORITE ANYMORE? THIS IS RICHIE SAMBORA, AND HE IS HERE, AND SO AM I. AND NOW WE ARE FRIENDS.
I got to have an actual conversation with Richie, and though short, it was almost exactly what I hoped it would be for all those years. And by “exactly what I hoped,” I mean I said things with coherence. I may or may not have cried afterwards (don’t judge me) and deemed my life downhill from that point on.
Thank God that’s not actually the case, because peaking at 19 would suck. And despite how easy it is to make fun of Bon Jovi (and despite the fact that they gouge their fans’ bank accounts for even the nose-bloodiest of seats), I have to keep a special place in the back corner of my heart for giving me music to love, concert experiences to cherish, and “Wanted Dead or Alive” to sing for the 8th grade talent show.
When they’re live in D.C. next Sunday night and I’m at home eating leftover Valentine’s Day candy, maybe I’ll blast a little Slippery When Wet. And play some air guitar. And tease my hair.