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Keep The Faith

Some of my most vivid early childhood memories are of Bon Jovi VHS tapes.

Mostly I watched them. Sometimes I played with them. Sometimes I simply laid them on the floor and admired them.

Those memories hit me as I started watching the new Bon Jovi docuseries. I knew they were there, I suppose, but I hadn’t paid them any mind for a very long time. And then, suddenly, I was watching fuzzy footage of men with silly hair and tight pants, and the past became present.

I had a lovely time afterwards, headphones on, listening to a smattering of their greatest hits, and belting along amidst gleeful laughter.

I still know the words. The inflections, the emphasis, the best times to breathe. Stored in some place beyond awareness.

By the time I hit adolescence, Bon Jovi had been relegated to the realm of Guilty Pleasure, to such an extent that I never even thought to indulge. I was too busy earning the street cred of liking ‘real music’, chasing whatever the fuck I thought that meant around, perhaps based too heavily on the opinions of older boys in black t-shirts.

It took me until my early to mid twenties to finally let myself relax and just like all the things I liked. But by that point I’d forgotten all about Bon Jovi, and was focused on exploring all these musical genres I’d never even dreamed of before.

It was my son that first brought me back.

He was immediately obsessed with Livin’ On A Prayer. As any self respecting five year old should be. And so I said “well, if you like this, you’ll probably like this” and played him You Give Love A Bad Name. And he did. And then we went on a tour of various rock songs of the era. But those were the two that stuck.

As a result, one day Spotify said “well, if you like those, you’ll probably like this” and played me It’s My Life.

I knew the song well, because it was circulating at the time I spent way too much of my days flicking between the handful of ‘alternative’ music channels available on TV, but I’d been reticent about enjoying it at the time.

That day, though, driving home from dropping off my son at his dad’s, I heard it anew.

And I didn’t belt along in between gleeful laughter, I belted along through sobs.

I’d given so much of my power away in the years preceding. Lost so much of my fire. My fight. And here was Jon Bon Jovi teaching me how to claim it back. And, for whatever reason, I believed him more than I’d believed anyone else.

I put the song on repeat and went for a forty-five minute detour until the catharsis was through with me.

Fast forwarding to watching the documentary, it felt like parts of me I’d long-forgotten came racing back. Rather than a letting go of pain this time, it was a welcoming of joy. But it also let me make a conscious connection, that my breakthrough in the car that day had not, because it fleshed out the context of who this band was and is.

Having watched it, I now know I deeply admire Jon Bon Jovi. I believe him to be an excellent role model. I recognise him as someone with many attributes I hope to progressively acquire. Regardless of what I think of the music he’s driven into creation, I’m grateful he exists and has lived his life in the way he has.

I also believe his music is infused with everything he is. And that I was lucky enough to absorb some of it as a malleable growing human. Lucky enough to enjoy the sound of something infused with grit, self-belief, integrity and vision.

I don’t know if I’m going to find myself listening to their albums again now, or digging into the regions of their back catalogue that I’ve never traversed. But I am thankful that Bon Jovi is stored within me, in some place beyond awareness. It was probably one of the things that gave me a chance. Gave me something to try to get back to, even when I didn’t know it was there.

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