I haven’t posted a blog entry since Valentine’s Day, so it’s appropriate that the very next one should be about Jon Bon Jovi.
Oh, he wasn’t my first celebrity crush. And I admit that when he first hit the scene I was devoted to Eddie Van Halen. But Jon (and his band) quickly won my heart. And there’s a reason I’m talking about this now.
This past Monday I saw Bon Jovi at the RBC Center in Raleigh. It had been close to 18 years since the last time I saw them. Ages ago. And I was quickly reminded of that fact.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I first heard the single “Runaway” on a New York radio station, WAPP the “Apple”, when it still played rock and before Bon Jovi received national airplay for the song. Bon Jovi wasn’t even a band at the time–Jon recorded the song himself during breaks from cleaning the floor of his cousin’s recording studio. It was 1983, I was about to enter high school, and it was a hot and muggy summer of realization.
Not really. But I knew right from the start that I was not the kind of girl Jon Bon Jovi was writing songs about. He was hot and sexy; I was young and pudgy. But I loved him. And I loved that song. Not as much as my friend Jennifer Moschetta loved it, but damn close.
Jennifer accompanied my family on our annual vacation to the Jersey Shore (dude, totally another blog post–not getting into Snooki and The Situation now); for more than a week, our group, which consisted of my parents, my mom’s friend Charlotte, her son Richie, and his friend Anthony, Jen and me, listened to us play “Runaway” over and over on my tiny electric blue Panasonic portable cassette player. I mean, we had to rewind EVERY time but luckily it was a cassingle. Still–devotion.
Jen and I bonded that week, particularly in the face of the consternation we seemed to inspire in everyone else with our focused devotion to Bon Jovi. Come on–most brilliant song ever! Only because we hadn’t heard Livin’ on a Prayer or Bad Medicine yet.
Fast forward four years. I’m in my freshmen year of college at Syracuse University. The boys are coming to the Carrier Dome, Skid Row in tow. Oh yeah, we’re goin’, baby. I’m fairly certain I cut class to get in line for the bracelet…but I have one prominent memory from that moment: the local TV station came by to film a segment on the crazy college kids waiting in the cold for tickets, and they interviewed some guy about three people down for me. The reporter asked him one of those stupid journalist-type questions (as a former journalist, I’m allowed to be disdainful–it’s all about getting the quote): why would anyone wait in line for a concert ticket? He replied with full-on sarcasm: “Jon Bon Jovi is the poet of our generation. Come on, who else could write: ‘Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame; you give love a bad name.'” The guy had a point.
So we all stood in the cold. And we got tickets. We ended up sitting near each other at the show. As usual, Bon Jovi sounded great and Jon’s cheekbones were out in full force. So was his chest hair, but that was a different time. But for three hours one night, we were all friends, singing along, banging our heads, fists in the air. Bon Jovi RULED.
A few summers later we were at the Orange County Speedway, me and friends I had gone to high school with, sweating it out to Jon and the guys and noticing how suddenly there were kids and grandmothers surrounding us. It didn’t matter. We were all Bon Jovi fans. That was all that mattered.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, I turned 40. And Bon Jovi was coming to the RBC Center in 2011. I didn’t care about looking like a desperado. I grabbed my bestie Heather and we invested in the cheap seats (hey, we’re happy that Bon Jovi commands $150 to $400 for floor seats, but we’ve got mortgages and our parents weren’t financing the trip, y’know?). We scored third tier, first row, the two seats off on their own at the end of the aisle. We were happy no one would sweat on us.
What an incredible night! So much fun–danced and sang to the point where four days later, my throat still hurts and my shoulders and neck ache. But here’s the unbelievably cool part.
Before the show, I tweeted about where we were. A few minutes later, a guy in Argentina, a RABID BJ fan, tweeted and asked me to tweet the set list as the show happened. I started doing so, right from when they ripped into “Blood on Blood,” and instantly gained new followers, from around the country and the world, who loved the band, weren’t at the show and wanted to know everything that was happening.
And I’m not exaggerating when I say “EVERYTHING.” They wanted to know if Jon and Richie used two mics during one song, if Jon wore leather pants and if Richie wore a hat. No, I’m not making that up.
Being an old-school fan, I knew the old stuff but once in awhile got stumped by the new stuff. My new Twitter friends quickly informed or corrected me. It was a little scary, but very fun.
Heather and I took a bunch of pictures, mostly of each other, and laughed our throats raw. Heather wants me to mention the usher that stood in front of us the entire show who continuously blinded us with her mini flashlight that she insisted on using like a laser pointer to call out people in our section that weren’t behaving themselves. Luckily, I kept Heather from going all redneck princess on her ass.
After the show, Heather and I hiked about two miles through red mud to my car. We sat in the traffic back-up to leave the show for about 30 minutes, and I made her freeze because I put the top down. She made me laugh so hard that not one, but TWO, men commented on my great laugh.
It was an awesome night. Twenty-six years later, Jon is still hot, and he’s still bringing me closer to my friends.