Jon Bon Jovi said this troubled modern era required a more focused turn toward political songs. But, he added, the newly released Bon Jovi 2020 isn’t the first time his band has touched on current events.
The album was actually finished and ready for release when coronavirus quarantines began, giving Bon Jovi plenty of time to rethink its tone and content.
“The new year came and we’re getting ready for a release and a tour, and the seriousness of COVID set in,” Bon Jovi told Rolling Stone. “Not only did it make sense to postpone the album, but for me to consider what else was going on.”
He started with a deep realization about himself – “because if I’m not the poster boy for white privilege, then who would be?” Bon Jovi mused. “An older, white, affluent guy, who by happenstance, if a policeman is pulling him over, it’s probably to tell him to jump into the escort to the stadium. You know what I mean?”
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He returned to Bon Jovi 2020 in a more reflective mood. “There was a certain wryness in that title,” he said. “It was going to be an election year. I thought it would make a hell of a bumper sticker, probably sell some T-shirts. But as the writing process had taken hold, I started to realize that the songs that were rising to the top were the more topical ones.”
Bon Jovi argued, however, that this was nothing new. He pointed to earlier tracks like “Runaway,” “Keep the Faith” and “Dry County,” all of which dealt with societal issues. “So there were songs throughout the catalog that would touch on those things,” he said. “But no, there’s not a record that’s like [Bon Jovi 2020]. That record had to come from the 58-year-old guy, not the 21- or 25-year-old.”
Still, he’s prepared for any criticism that might follow, calling it “inevitable. What can I do? Edit myself so that I’m out there just to be shilling a song? If I’m doing that at this point in my career, who am I? It was far more important to me to make a record that had something to say than it was for me to try to rewrite ‘Bad Name’ 36 years later. I would have no interest in writing that song now. But God knows we wanted to write it then.”
In the end, he feels like Bon Jovi’s die-hard fans are ready to share this latest journey. As for the rest? “If you’re going to be that cruel to say, ‘I’m going to go burn their records because he opined,'” he said, “then you never liked us anyhow.”
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