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Bon Jovi - Wanted Dead or Alive

: music, June 25 2023

Not easy to write about childhood heroes, oh boy, where to start. How about the goosebumps on every play, or the avalanche of memories, or all the stupid things said and done, while "Wanted Dead or Alive" was basically the theme-song on the background. If I have to name one track, to describe the glorious 80s, that would be it. Bon Jovi hit a ton of popularity with the "Blaze of Glory", but I find WDoA much more fitting - both for the western style movies and the band itself. It was a love at first listen for me, and I will keep it close to my heart until the very last day.

It's all the same, only the names will change
Every day, it seems we're wastin' away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I'd drive all night just to get back home
I'm a cowboy
On a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted dead or alive
Wanted dead or alive
Starting a bit melancholic, the song describes the life of the band members and a parallel to the wild west gunslingers. So is the tone - a slow acoustic guitar, a memory for all the "country roads" and cowboys out there. Jon finds close similarities between both worlds - quick fame, girls, drinks, money, a little bit of envy and hate.
Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days
The people I meet always go their separate ways
Sometimes you tell the day by the bottle that you drink
And times when you're alone, well, all you do is think
I'm a cowboy
On a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted (wanted), dead or alive
Wanted (wanted), dead or alive
Oh, and I ride
#Yes, here you put the most epic guitar riff ever!#

I guess they felt very lonely on the road. But that was the day-to-day of a glam-rocker. Back then they earned respect by live-performances and concerts, involving non-stop travel. Never settle, never home - the price you pay. It was worth it. You achieve unique creativity under heavy circumstances. The second verse gazes into the endlessness, as the cowboy realizes his fate is to keep on "riding", forever. The "steel horse" allegory seamlessly connects the two worlds - the wild west past and the machine present.
And I walk these streets, a loaded six-string on my back
I play for keeps 'cause I might not make it back
I've been everywhere, still I'm standing tall
I've seen a million faces and I've rocked them all
'Cause I'm a cowboy
On a steel horse I ride
I'm wanted (wanted), dead or alive
Although the hardship, you never give up, accepting your fate and pressing on. You know it is not "might" but "for sure" not making it back, but that's alright - heroes don't make it old.
With "Wanted Dead or Alive" Bon Jovi hit the zenith of their hard-rock/glam-metal career and start slowly to (I would not say "descent") shift to a more country-rock, commercial sound. The song is written in 1986 as part of the "Slippery When Wet" - a massively successful masterpiece. There are 2 videos - the original one with a footage of the 86-87's band tour, and another one from 2001, which sounds so frail and slimy, I would rather erase it from my memory. I would give a special credit to Richie Sambora, not only for being a co-writer and amazing guitarist, but for the excellent back-vocals (and hat), without which "Wanted Dead or Alive" will just not be the same.