Bon Jovi's new album a tale of growth, experience-10.2005
NEW YORK -- Jon Bon Jovi is laughing, really laughing.
The lead singer has just found out that the Bon Jovi fan Web site has put up www.smirkwatch.com, a place for fans to show off their sometimes off-the-wall uses of the not-so-happy smiley face that adorns their new album, "Have A Nice Day." And Bon Jovi can't get over the fact that somebody has tattooed their arm with the album cover.
AP: Are you surprised fans would go to this length?
Bon Jovi: I knew that when we created the logo this is what it could be. This is bigger than the album cover. I think it says a lot. It's not the Kool-Aid man and it ain't a smiley face. He's got a definite 2005 attitude. He's a little more knowledgeable than the yellow smiley face of the '70s that was about peace, love and let's have fun.
AP: So is 'Have A Nice Day' a kiss-off song?
Bon Jovi: It's a social commentary, that's for sure. If you take 'Have A Nice Day' for its literal translation, you would think it was a cheery, wonderful, insert-happy-music-here song. I think it's a little wry, a little more ironic.
AP: How so?
Bon Jovi: The song was inspired by the polarization that I witnessed in our country last fall with what was happening with the election and the war. I couldn't believe I was witnessing what was happening in this country. There was a serious dividing line that was breaking up friendships, and having brothers fighting with brothers and spouses fighting with spouses. But in what I was witnessing, I realized you couldn't be a sore loser and you couldn't be a sore winner. From Nov. 3 on, we need to come together as a country. Forget about being red and blue. It was about being purple. Everybody has to make a series of compromises in order to move on. Ultimately, I was trying to write a record of inclusion. My 'Have A Nice Day' was to say don't judge me. ...It just says I'm simply going to live my life.
AP: There were a lot of reports earlier this year that the label was unhappy with the record and sent you back into the studio. Want to straighten that out?
Bon Jovi: There was one rumor that the record company told me what to do. The guy reported it in the paper and other people picked up on it. The honest to God truth is that I thought the record was done. I went to the record company to meet the latest, greatest regime and played them the box set in October of last year. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was going in to meet them and say 'Here's 38 unreleased tracks for your box and by the way,' when they were jumping up and down, 'here's my new record. Surprise.'
AP: So what happened?
Bon Jovi: It was Christmastime and I went in the studio to listen to the album. As I was listening to it, I thought I cheated a bit. I hurried to finish the record so I could make that presentation (to the label) as a one-two bunch. So then I, not they, said it's not complete, it doesn't tell the whole story. It didn't tell what was going on in my life. So I sat down and wrote a few songs and took off a few songs. And that was it. Not that I wouldn't be open to a suggestion from a record company, if they ever did say anything to me.
AP: There is music on this album that people don't traditionally expect to hear from Bon Jovi. For example, 'Story of My Life.' Was that a conscious decision to depart from the band's rock sound?
Bon Jovi: No. I just felt the track. I just felt the song. I just started strumming away and there it was. 'Story of my life' was one of those that came at the end. And much like a movie or a book, I always feel I need a beginning, a middle and an end to what this part of my life is. So I summed it up in that song and said 'Every day, I'm trying to write it.' It bookends the record.
AP: And with the song 'Bells of Freedom'?
Bon Jovi: It was a very interesting period of growth for me last year. 'Bells of Freedom' came because I wanted to relate the idea that I was looking for anyone to find personal freedom. People have misconstrued it already. They've said it's a Christian song. People have said it's political, it's pro-Bush. No. No. No. This is about inner peace, about reaching that place where you're free.