Tuesday, January 18, 2011

We're Halfway There (But It Doesn't Matter, Right?)

The other day, I mentioned that I was drunkenly singing songs on Rock Band 2.  One of those songs was the difficult "Livin' On A Prayer" by Bon Jovi.  People love singing along to this song despite it being VERY high on the difficulty scale for vocals.  If the song were an ice skating routine, one would be eligible for full points if successfully navigating this tune. 

I heard the song again on the radio the other day and it didn't sit right with me.  I was listening to the lyrics and I realized that they made absolutely no sense.  I know that popular music doesn't need to be masterful word-smithing, but it also should at least come close to making sense.  If Bon Jovi wants to make an indie rock album, then by all means reference crazy stuff that only Hunter S. Thompson's corpse can understand, but we're talkin' 'bout POP music right now! 

It starts simply telling the story of two down on their luck folks trying to make it in the world.  Tommy and Gina are attempting to make ends-meat by working at the dock and a diner, respectively.  Tommy's work is tough and Gina works for love... for love. 

Then it switches to Gina saying, "We've got to hold on to what we've got.  'Cause it doesn't make a difference if we make it or not."  For someone working so hard, it seems odd to me that she doesn't seem to think it makes a difference if they "make it."  I get that they have each other, but usually healthy relationships support each others' goals and give each other hope.  If I believed Mrs. B. and I were going to live in a one bedroom apartment for the rest of our lives, I'd be awfully depressed and unmotivated.  It does make a difference whether you make it or not. 

Now, I'm not clear if the next part is still Gina talking or if it switches to Tommy.  They make a point to clarify when Gina starts talking, so I'm going to assume it is still her.  Essentially, she goes from saying "it doesn't matter" to "We're half way there - Livin' on a prayer, Take my hand and we'll make it, I swear - livin' on a prayer." 

Once again, it does make more sense if Tommy is being Gina's rock, but since they make a point to say that Gina is talking, then in the next verse they make a point to say that Tommy whispers, "Baby, it's ok... someday," I'm going to take that as Gina is one crazy lady who thinks it doesn't matter one minute, then swears they will make it in the next breath.  

For a song about hope, this throws some mixed messages the listener's way.  It also is depressing to sing to because those notes in the chorus are next to impossible for normal folks to hit.  Even the recording has a crowd of people in the background helping Jon Bon Jovi to hit the notes.  A community sing-a-long always helps to hit notes, even if a few people in the crowd have to blow out their voice boxes in order to contribute to the cause. 

What did we learn today?  Probably nothing, besides the fact that I don't particularly care for this song.  Even "Don't Stop Believin'" is more tolerable than this jam (the difference is significant, in my opinion.)  Feel free to let me know other songs that don't make sense or annoy you for some reason- rational or irrational, it makes no difference.  Feel free to vent about it- I got your back.


GMoney said...

And another thing, if they've got each other and that's a lot for love, why does Gina dream of running away? I think that Gina is bi-polar. Jack and Diane have a far more stable co-existence.

What does Richie Sambora repeating his "WHOA-OH-OH" portion have to do with anything?

I don't care though, it's a fun song and Bon Jovi is alright in my book.

Tony B. said...

I'd rather listen to Huey Lewis & the News- at least "Hip To Be Square" coherently lines out how to sell out rather than doing it with lyrics that don't actually make sense!