A nice, praising article about the boys for once - enjoy!
Is It Time to Stop Making Fun of Bon Jovi?
by Marc Spitz December 14, 2010, 3:52 PM
Then: poodle-haired lite-metal punch line. Now: Beloved—and highly profitable—entertainer.
“Stevie Ray Vaughn is dead and we can’t get Bon Jovi near a helicopter? Come on, folks. ‘Get on that helicopter, John. Shut the fuck up and get on that helicopter! There's a hairdresser in there. Yeah, go ahead in there, yeah, yeah!’”
The comedian Denis Leary spoke—or, rather, shouted—those words nearly 20 years ago, when it was easier to lump New Jersey’s other favorite sons together with other poodle-haired, smugly grinning, lite-metal acts such as Dokken, Cinderella, Poison, and Ratt. That Bon Jovi survived the alternative-rock meteor shower that killed off most of their 80s peers can be attributed to luck or karaoke, but shouldn’t we finally give the band themselves some credit for the Springsteen-level success they are now enjoying in middle age? With the recession making Tommys and Ginas of all of us, Jon and Richie feel somehow more necessary than they did back when they were still writing songs about Diane Lane. This week, Billboard announced that, for the second time in three years, Bon Jovi was the most profitable touring act in the world, edging out McCartney, U2, The Eagles, The Dave Matthews Band, and such respectably heavy rockers as Metallica and AC/DC. These guys are even outselling Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas.
In September, Bon Jovi was nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, putting them in the company of critical darlings like Laura Nyro, Tom Waits, Dr. John, and the Beastie Boys. They may not get in (in which case they will also be in good company, alon gside Roxy Music, T. Rex, The Smiths, and Sonic Youth—but don’t get me started on a Leary-style rant), but for many fans it’s a major step towards righting a weird injustice. If you are asking how this happened, just go to the set list. Or, the next time you’re in your car, driving really fast, pull up “Runaway” (and dig the Morrissey-like falsetto at the end) or “You Give Love A Bad Name.” How about “I’ll Be There For You” or (once you’ve parked) “Born to Be My Baby”? Bon Jovi speak the truth—“Sometimes when you’re alone, all you do is think!”—and in a Ponzi-scheme world, this has real value. The Jov can be facile at times (“Have A Nice Day” is supposed to be ironic, right?) but they believe they’re being profound, and that keeps them from getting lazy. Certainly not onstage where they tend to sell even the most pat sentiments.
The most appealing thing about this band, though, is the size of their heads. They are low-maintenance heroes, and I’m pretty convinced their stature is down to tenacity and not some elaborate marketing campaign to get people like me to write words like these. (I could be wrong, but you gotta believe, right?) I once interviewed them for Nylon magazine. It was one of those terrible situations where the Q & A and the photo shoot are done at the same time, which usually finds the writer waiting for hours while trousers and split ends are discussed by the stylists and the photographer. Not at a Bon Jovi shoot. They walked right in, Jon ran a hand through his hair, shook his head out, and said, “O.K., let’s go.” Later, he shrugged as he told me, “It’s just genetics.” I’d never seen anyone less affected, much less a major rock star.
It’s a little odd to proclaim affection (and respect) for Bon Jovi, since what I do for a living is completely irrelevant to them. I occasionally contribute to the music magazine Uncut and I read all of the expensive English music mags and papers (Q, Mojo, the N.M.E.), which essentially dictate what bands we are supposed to like (even the ones that come from America), and I cannot recall a single feature on Bon Jovi … ever. (Please correct me if I’m wrong here.) And yet, when they play over there, it’s cricket fields or Wembley Stadium. I know some of those in attendance must be rock writers in disguise. I once got a text from a very influential music journalist who was standing on the side of the stage during a Bon Jovi show out in Jersey. It was a gush; the kind of thing you can’t tweet if you want to keep your job.
But slowly, with every passing honor and record set, the secret is getting out.