Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bon Jovi Problems

Eventually we all become our fathers. Hopefully that is not a bad thing. In my case it is a gift—and it is a curse. Careful consideration and thought is not an often practiced art these days, as any short stint listening to “Top 40” radio will prove. It is hard to hear a single song without wondering how artists these days manage to become popular with some of the nonsense they are putting out. Maybe kids are telling the truth when they say they don’t listen to the lyrics.

I remember a day in the late eighties when I walked into my room to find my dad holding a piece of paper out at me. “What is this?” Turns out, I had written down the text to a popular Bon Jovi song. (I actually did listen to the lyrics, even then.) I told him what it was. “That is the stupidest thing I have ever read.” Sad thing is he was probably right… up to that point anyway.

Songwriting can be done in several ways. You can write very clear lyrics that mean exactly what you want to say. What you have to say better be good, though, because people are going to get it. Or, you can be very cryptic and write with imagery that could mean several things so that anyone listening can attach whatever meaning they want to you song. Then there is the Bon Jovi way of song writing. Write things that sound very deep and meaningful, but that at a second glance are really quite silly.

The latest song, “We Weren’t Born To Follow” is just such a song. It sets out to be a deep song about history, the human race, and people who make a difference in the world… individualism. Sort of a “do your own thing because I’m telling you to” song. Sort of like the teenager who wants to “be their own person” by being exactly like every single one of their peers.

The chorus really sums up the problem. In one line it says “Get up off your knees,” presumably because religious types are mind numbed robots following a leader—not individual enough. But then the very next line says “You gotta hold on to what you believe.” Which is it, guys?

Sometimes I wish I could just enjoy a song without having to think about it.

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