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Bon Jovi: Bounce. Universal, September 2002. Get the CD from Amazon.com, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.co.uk. Bounce is the eighth studio album of Bon Jovi. It is largely rocking and the ballads are without kitsch. In short: Bounce is totally convincing and strongly recommended! The following lines have been taken from the official Universal Music press release:
BOUNCE is a journal kept by the band of where they’ve been this past year, a diary of what they’ve witnessed and what they’ve felt. There is harshness and tenderness in the lyrics. There is strength and grace in the music. Invigorated by the success of CRUSH, Jon and Richie had begun the songwriting process for the next album and were working in New Jersey on new songs when the world stopped turning on September 11th. The songs Jon and Richie composed in the days after the tragedy were heavy-hearted and cathartic. But as the weeks and months passed, what Jon and Richie (and so many of us) felt in the aftermath morphed from a profound sadness into a determined resolve to live life to its fullest. It was these feelings that moved the songwriting process forward. The songs on BOUNCE each stand on their own but when the songs are presented together as a whole, they create something greater. Like a Seurat painting, up close, the record is a combination of intricate elements, many layers and many textures. But step back and look at the painting as a whole, and it is a work of art that lends itself to rediscovery and contemplation upon each viewing. And in the case of BOUNCE, upon each listening.
The album BOUNCE kicks off with the song UNDIVIDED. This song is the one most directly influenced by the events of September 11th but, rather than dwelling upon the horror, it celebrates the silver lining the black cloud of 9/11 offered us.
UNDIVIDED speaks to the oneness of everyone, not just one city, or one country, but the entire world. No man is an island - we are all part of the greater world that is humanity. We are stronger together, than apart.
EVERYDAY is the first single from the album and reinforces the need to live each day to its fullest. The lyrics acknowledge the harshness of life but encourage listeners to brush themselves off, get back up on their feet and get on with life. The video for EVERYDAY reinforces this global message (as well as the international superstar status of BON JOVI) by setting the band’s performance at the Very Large Array (VLA) in Socorro, New Mexico. The massive radio antennas in the background seemingly transmit the band’s performance to locations around the world and we witness people from all corners of the planet watching this broadcast. (The band’s performance was filmed in July; there are two secondary film crews, about to complete their worldwide treks, capturing real footage of people watching BON JOVI live).
HOOK ME UP, a great rock song, has a deeper message when one understands the lyrics within the proper context. The song was inspired by a newspaper article about a young Palestinian man in occupied territory, trying desperately to make contact with people via an old, beat-up ham radio. He was trapped in a small corner of the world, amidst horrible events and all he longed for was communication, a connection with the outside world and other people. With that situation in mind, the song was written from the young man’s perspective, as if in a bunker, desperate for contact with others.
ALL ABOUT LOVIN' YOU is the classic Bon Jovi love song. It’s simple and endearing in its message. In the wake of the events of September 11th, many people rediscovered what was truly important in life. And appreciating the love of another has always been at the top of that list… but many people needed reminding. This song puts priorities where they belong.
BOUNCE, the album title track, is a declaration of strength and defiance. Initially, it had referred to the city of New York, and the United States as a whole, but also to the band’s perseverance over a twenty year career. However, the song, as well as the album title, is open to interpretation by the listener. Whatever it is that you believe in, stick to it. Don’t let others veer you off your chosen path. Determination. Gumption. Spirit. These prevail.
MISUNDERSTOOD is a song for every guy who’s said the wrong thing (or failed to say the right thing) and had to face up to the fact. Written upon his return home from a long stretch of time away on location, Jon acknowledged there were portions of his personal life he’d neglected and wrote this song as a mea culpa. The intentions are always good, but the delivery sometimes poor. This is the everyman’s song – it’s for every guy who has been in the doghouse. Jon noticed that in current popular music, there existed a dearth of real story-telling. The singer/songwriter was as popular as ever but the epic stories told by Billy Joel or Elton John through song were missing. Jon set out to write songs in that vein.
JOEY takes us on a journey through the life of one character who befriends a simple-minded young man. With an intentional tip of the hat to Elton John’s “Levon”, JOEY allows Jon to climb into another’s shoes and tell a story through that character’s perspective. A window into one person’s world told through song.
RIGHT SIDE OF WRONG is a modern-day Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid… good souls involved in wrongdoing but with hearts in the right place. There is an intentional movie feeling to the song. The music and guitar solos help to drive the story and the ending is left open. Again, an intentional nod to the storytelling songwriters that have inspired the band.
The acting world and the magic of movies has had a significant impact on the songwriting of this album. YOU HAD ME FROM HELLO has obvious movie overtones. The phrase, coined by Cameron Crowe in his movie Jerry McGuire, was a beautiful sentiment. Fleshed out, the song is an ode to a committed relationship. The song honors the ability of someone to constantly see something new and beautiful in the one they love.
THE DISTANCE is written in a cinematic style. The music serves as a score to the lyrics, which begins as an establishing shot and the “camera” draws closer into the story as the song progresses. The message reiterates the passion one feels when there is a goal in sight and the determination shown when striving to reach that goal.
OPEN ALL NIGHT, too, has its origin in the acting world. Jon Bon Jovi appeared on Ally McBeal for nine episodes as the character Victor Morrison, a plumber/babysitter/jack-of-all-trades at the home of the title character. While the storyline, especially the romance, took a very long time to evolve onscreen, Jon admitted that, had it been real life, he would never have allowed it to take so long – it would have happened or he would have moved on. The song OPEN ALL NIGHT is, in essence, Victor’s dialogue with Ally, had Jon written the teleplay.
The band worked incredibly hard these past few years, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. And that’s a feeling everyone can relate to. When you’re world-weary, you need someone or something to breathe the life back into you and allow you to appreciate the world again. LOVE ME BACK TO LIFE is a plea for that nurturing. - Sheet music by Bon Jovi.
Bon Jovi live in Times Square, September 5, 2002. Photograph Copyright: Universal Music. - Sheet music by Bon Jovi.