Article by Pablo Fernández from Barcelona/Sunday, April 21st 2019
Anyone looking for the reasons for Bon Jovi′s commercial success, I think he will not have much difficulty finding. Jon Bon Jovi himself - or Bongiovi, who is the real last name of the singer and the undisputed leader of the group - confirmed the obvious: ′There are artists who forget that their first obligation is to entertain their audience. Townshend was one of those and so They finished The Who. Next year I will make records that will sell more millions, I can buy two mansions instead of one. ′
Bon Jovi published his self-titled debut in 1984. Van Halen reigned on the charts and a whole legion of ′hair metal′ bands were on the scene. From ′Slippery When Wet′, published just two years later, they managed to sell more than 14 million copies worldwide and not in vain, almost twenty years later, they said that they owned ′the most numerous fan club in the world.′
′A skilled businessman,′ was defined by an intelligent journalist. ′The star itself is nothing more than a fiction ... -said music critic Rolf Ulrich Kaiser. The listener is tried to lose himself in an illusion, which, however, only lasts three musical minutes ... He must not possess ′world′, but must be as vain and simple as possible to seduce the listener and get him out of the real world ... ′. In fact, ′Jon had a picture that was too good and beautiful to look real,′ as English magazine Kerrang would say about him !.
It is no accident that the image of this type of artist, delicately modeled by other businessmen, catches the illusions of thousands of fans. They are all professionals and do their job very well.
Paradoxically, however, the time comes when that star has to leave the stage where he has been playing his role as superman among fireworks and find himself, with the eternal and distressing doubt of which mansion to spend the night . ′When you finish a tour ... it is as if you close a chapter of your life, and you feel a kind of inner emptiness very strong. You need something to believe in, something to cling to′ ... ′In a world that doesn′t give you anything, I need something to believe in, ′he said commenting on his song′ Something to Believe in. ′
Although this daring singer with aspirations to the cinema constantly uses religious terms in his songs - I mean terms such as ′believe′, ′faith′, ′miracle′, ′prayer′, ′sin′, etc., these are completely empty of its original sense. Undoubtedly, his vocabulary also suffers the influence of the decadent Christianity in which he has grown up: In ′Blame it on the love of rock and roll′ he sings: ′Then they took me to a preacher who they saw on television / He said that for a Little donation, my soul could be saved / I told him, I don′t think a preacher, I′ll be back another day ′,
′Hey, God, there are nights when you know I want to scream / In those days you are even harder to believe / I know how busy you should be, but uh, God ... / Do you ever think of me ? ′, also sings in that′ Hey God ′, very much like′ Dry County ′from his previous album. Commenting on the song in the press, he once said: ′I can′t understand how you can walk down Manhattan Street 57 and step over an uncle who is sleeping on the street without caring about anything. When I see that scene I think, may I be the one in that situation tomorrow? Why does America have to have blunders like that? Sometimes I can′t help feeling guilty ′.
Listening carefully to one does not know very well what he really cares about all this social problem: if it is his personal security - ′can I be tomorrow who is in that situation?′ -he said- or that person himself that he could help. That misery, of which he does well to feel guilty, and why we should all regret it, is however for Jon Bon Jovi one more reason to ask God for accounts - ′Eh God, I′m just a simple man / I have a wife and a family / I almost lost the house. ′
As Rolf Ulrich Kaiser said, in these cases, ′the only thing that unites the singer with the lyrics he sings is the fact that he learns them by heart′. This singer, although as he gets older writes more committed lyrics, becomes proportionately more contradictory as, also over the years, he earns more money. Above all other things, this is what puts him most between a rock and a hard place.
20 years ago, when I started writing the first lines of this article, hundreds of cassette tapes hung on the wall of my room. They were joined by plastic classifiers in rigorous alphabetical order and among them could be easily found groups of that time such as Whitesnake, Skid Row, Poison and of course Bon Jovi. What I discovered in depth in the interviews with Jon Bon Jovi was, therefore, more painful than satisfactory.
All the sources of information that I originally used were printed on paper and when the first version of the article was finally written I started distributing it in different fanzines. The fanzines were photocopied in copy shops and distributed by correspondence or information tables such as the one I presided personally in Madrid, in the Plaza de Tirso de Molina, on Sunday mornings.
When the Libertarian Youth asked us not to distribute them there with threats and burning of some copies I began to consider the communication possibilities I found on the Internet. The online version of this magazine is undoubtedly closely related to this article and to that desire for communication that I have always tried to extend also to those who differed from the opinion of the authors.
′How can you compose compelling songs about losing to the last dollar?′ a journalist asked him on another occasion. With the answer he gave, not only did he not answer the question, but he also demonstrated how Jon Bon Jovi also gives himself that innate mania in reducing everything, be it social concern or existential search, to our own navels . ′My God,′ he exclaimed, ′money does not buy happiness. It does not buy personal fulfillment, it does not get anything other than paying rent.′
Jon Bon Jovi, with his private plane, his Italian ancestry and the vaunted job he had as a young man in the cleaning service, embodies in great detail the dream of many Americans. Homeless people do not fit that dream, make him feel uncomfortable and have no prejudice to close the matter accusing God of what he calls ′scourge.′ Jesus did not have, as his contemporaries tell us, ′where to lay his head′ and that is not why we should assume that it was a scourge. There are more reasons to think that the scourge is really the type of people who like him consumes the highest percentage of resources.
It is not so difficult to replace religion with humanism. It is celebrities like Lady Gaga who more millions of dollars claim to have invested in charitable causes and Jon Bon Jovi has known how to be attentive. His latest invention was Soul Kitchen, a restaurant where the customer decides how much he pays and, if unable to pay, can compensate the restaurant with maintenance. What lifelong meant to have to wash the dishes, Jon Bon Jovi had been able to sell it to the press as a virtuous exercise of solidarity. Anyone who has studied marketing or business management knows the usefulness of Corporate Social Responsibility when it is aired in the media. Curiously, in Jesus′ time, there were also people of relevant social classes who took advantage of their donations for their own benefit: all the Pharisees needed was to make their donations publicly.
′I repeat to you,′ Jesus would say, ′that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God′ (Matt. 19:24). When his disciples, surprised, asked him who could then be saved, ′Jesus watching them, he said to them: For men this is impossible; but for God everything is possible.′ He who thinks he is rich, like he who thinks he is healthy, does not believe he is in need of anyone′s help either. However, we see Jesus Christ, without mansions, without private planes and without fireworks, laughing at that supposed autonomy when he says: ′Because you say: I am rich, and I have enriched myself, and I have no need of anything; and you do not know that you are a hapless, miserable, poor, blind and naked ′(Rev. 3: 5).
′If anyone wants to come after me,′ Jesus also said, ′deny yourself, and take up your cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life because of me, he will find it, because what will the man profit if he wins the whole world and loses his soul, or what reward will man give for his soul? For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will pay each one according to his works. ′