Do something for me. Right now, in front of your computer screen.
Take a deep breath: inhale slowly, exhale slowly. Relax.
Go back to your very first Bon Jovi concert. The venue, the crowd, the smells, the sounds, and that adrenaline-bursting moment when the band first took the stage.
Do you remember it? Can you feel it?
Close your eyes, and go back. Relive it.
Clear your mind and focus on as many details from that first time as you can. Stay in that moment as long as you want, but at least until you've completely immersed yourself in the memory.
Why did you become a fan in the first place? Was it any of the members' good looks? The thrill of the music? Or were you not even a fan before you were dragged to a show, fell in love with the live experience, and were hooked? What's your story?
Everyone has one. And it's the reason, to this day, that you still listen to their music, still count down the days to a concert, still cry when your favorite song comes on just as you're feeling lower than dirt. It's the reason you're reading this blog.
It is simply uncanny what four men with instruments can do in a person's life. When I heard my first Bon Jovi song, I had absolutely NO clue what my life would be like 11 years later. And 7 years after joining the fan club, it's even more surreal. I've already reminisced about the friends I've made and the experience I've had before. But there is a purely "me" factor, too. My heart, my soul, my very being. Those four men with instruments have dug their way into every fiber of who I am, grabbing hold of my very core - and I know without a doubt that I can never let them out. And I don't want to.
There is a literal truth to the saying, "Being a Bon Jovi fan is not just a hobby, it's a lifestyle." You sign into the fan boards every day, read blogs, check up on the band's latest comings and goings, assign Jovi songs as your ringtone, decorate your home with memorabilia, travel crazy distances to see them live, meet new people, then travel to see them when they've become friends, and make memories that literally last a lifetime. It's truly a way of life!
But sometimes we overdo it. In our excitement, we load up on so many live shows that we get sick of them. We overplay the CDs until they're worn thin, scratched and battered. We literally turn against songs (ahem, Who Says You Can't Go Home) because we're so sick and tired of the same chorus and melody over and over and over again. (Although in the case of Who Says, I blame Jon for overdoing it. lol) We lapse into periods of "Jovi dieting", where we purposely set aside the CDs, change our ringtones, and choose not to add another show to our already packed lineup. We even welcome a hiatus in touring, because we want to refuel our excitement gauge. And that's okay! Give it a few weeks' rest and refresh.
But when it has gone too far, total and complete burnout is possible. A complete numbing to everything Bon Jovi sets in - the live shows are bland and unexciting, the music is old, permanently worn thin, and meaningless. And the most dangerous of all - the politics and economics of the Bon Jovi enterprise - have jaded us beyond redemption.
Hopefully this won't happen to you. But I've been chatting with some of my friends lately who are either bordering on complete burnout, or have already crossed the line. And it honestly breaks my heart. There are many reasons for burnout besides just overdoing it, of course. But overdoing it is the easiest and quickest path.
Don't let yourself get that way. Especially lately, the politics has poisoned the Bon Jovi world.
We all need a little cleansing every now and then. I for one do not EVER want to lose the magic I still find so thick in the air at every concert, the thrill in my stomach whenever a Jovi song comes on in the grocery store, the tears that pour from my depths when I feel low and "shattered and bruised" and Jon Bon Jovi sings lyrics straight to my heart. The larger than life, higher than the sky sense of immortality when a song like Love's the Only Rule courses through my body. I refuse to lose that. I want the sheer, pure goodness worth its weight in gold to flow through my blood until the day I die.
People say I'm naive. I'm a young fan, so I'm still high on the Jovi fever.
That may be true, but I won't pretend I haven't overdone it a few times. I've "Jovi dieted". And I firmly believe that anyone who once adored the band can find that magic again, if you know where to look.
So do something for me - actually, for yourself - this weekend. Set aside some time and watch a video or DVD - An Evening With Bon Jovi, or Access All Areas, or Live From London. Something from as early in your Jovi journey as you can. Lie on your bed, close your eyes, and listen to old albums for a little while. Dig out old tour scrapbooks. Watch the original music videos. Do something that "takes you back" to when you first became a fan - the stronger the deja vu, the better. Let yourself be absorbed by the memories, the nostalgia, the feelings you had all those years ago. Refresh your Jovi meter - look inside yourself and remember why you became a fan in the first place.
No matter what your "status" is - still ridiculously excited about everything related to the very mention of the band, or completely burned out - try it out. Let your heart take control, and take yourself back to whatever memories you have - concerts, friends, dinners or parties where you laughed so hard you cried. Everything Bon Jovi brought to your life.
Hopefully it will renew your sense of faith. And if not (which I hope is not the case), at the very least you will have reminded yourself that there WAS a reason why you spent all those years devoted, and how it changed your life - probably for the better. It wasn't a waste.
Do you remember it? Can you feel it?