Bon Jovi struggles between depression and resignation in an official advertorial

Bon Jovi struggles between depression and resignation in an official advertorial
Bon Jovi struggles between depression and resignation in an official advertorial

The new Bon Jovi documentary is delicious and serves to understand the sad current state of the band and its vocalist and leader.

«Thank You Goodnight – The Story of Bon Jovi»: 40 years of Bon Jovi in ​​four chapters

It’s nothing new. Already in any video from almost forty years ago, like the one in “Wanted Dead Or Alive”, Jon Bon Jovi He looked into the distance with a lost gaze, as if the entire weight of the world were on his shoulders. The vocalist’s relationship with the massive success of Bon Jovi has always been variable: on the one hand he seemed to enjoy being on stage – at least until a few years ago – but at the same time he seemed to carry with certain difficulties everything that surrounded the other twenty-two hours. in which he was not on stage. In short, something that many artists go through but that, in the case of Jon, always with a camera in front of him over the last forty years, we have been able to observe more closely.

After watching the four chapters of the documentary “Thank You Goodnight – The Story of Bon Jovi“, directed by Gotham Chopra and available in Disney+, one cannot help but feel a certain embarrassment about the vocalist’s physical and mental state. Although the story chronologically recounts the rise to stardom of the legendary New Jersey band, with the classic stories of success and excess and friendship and enmity, it does so by interspersing moments about Jon’s current reality. With a broken voice (“it’s like having an anvil tied to your neck” he describes at one point) after forty years of records, tours and wear and tear, the vocalist faces the maturity of his career – it seemed like he would never grow older but Jon has 62 years old currently – from a comfortable position financially but terrible psychologically. His most precious asset, his voice, has not been with him for a long time. Watching him sing on stage is a continuous suffering because you see that he can’t, even though he tries. At times, his excessive vocal gestures make you think that he has been the victim of a stroke in recent years. But no, it’s all part of his last attempt to get some meaningful note out of a broken voice that prevents him from facing his current songs, which are very vocally restrained, not to mention classics sung with a helium balloon like “Livin’ on a Prayer” either “You Give Love to a Bad Name”.

Maybe it’s time to retire?

Throughout the documentary, interspersed with moments of past glory, we can see Jon trying everything: laser therapy, vocal exercises and re-education of his singing style. Unsuccessfully. His voice seems to have evaporated, especially after 2013. “An organization of 120 people depends on something that he measures very little (his vocal cords),” he says to put things in perspective. Part of the story takes place around fifteen shows that Bon Jovi performs in 2022 and where he has bad nights, some good, and worse nights where he ends up lying on the dressing room floor frustrated and curled up in a ball. In the end, while everyone tries to maintain their spirit throughout the tour, it is Dorothea, Jon’s wife who drops the reality bomb on him after the last show: “you can’t do it, you should think about retiring and stop suffering.” ” comes to tell him who has seen him at his highest highs and his lowest lows. Consequently, the vocalist takes his retirement for granted and faces the risky step that he had been avoiding for a long time because the consequences could be terrible. A surgery that could prevent him from singing again but, if he was successful, could help him regain the necessary vocal ranges. Jon, from lost in the river, throws himself into it and the documentary shows us his painful return to the re-education of his voice. A re-education that bears its first fruits in the band’s new album, “Forever”, which will be released soon. In the air is the possibility that Jon can face a proper tour singing for two hours every night. That is the biggest cliffhanger, not of the documentary, but of the band’s future career.

The abandonment of the blood brother

It’s not just the loss of his voice that has Jon in a perpetually gray and morose state of mind. The departure of Richie Sambora in 2013 was like the breakup of a brotherhood that the vocalist has digested very poorly. “Jon and the band know why I left,” says Sambora at one point without going into details, implying that the story of his alcoholism and wanting to spend time with his daughter was not the only reason, that it also . Flying over the scene is John Shanks. The producer who began working with the band in 2012 and who has ended up taking over the position of the group’s support guitarist on stage for a few years now. Along the way, sacrificed, the vocal and stage chemistry between Sambora and Jon, the key element of the group’s sound. It seems like everyone lives off of Jon and no one wants to tell him what he doesn’t want to hear for fear of losing his salary. The result is a band that, for years, has been swimming in the most insipid rock and a vocalist who can’t stand his ground. The venues, yes, full. But in exchange of what? It’s clear that people will go see anything called Bon Jovi as long as there’s a guy named Jon Bon Jovi with a microphone in his hand. But there are intangibles that made that band something special. And today, those intangibles, that chemistry, are no longer there. One feels sympathy for a Sambora who appears genuine throughout his interventions and who decided to give himself courage and disappear from the band before becoming a wimp who had to laugh thank you to Shanks in the studio.

Of the band’s past, the intervention of a Doc McGhee in a state of grace throughout the documentary is especially revealing. The manager who raised Bon Jovi and burned them through grueling tours that pushed them to the limit offers his perspective on the story. So do key characters like Desmond Child or Jon’s brother, Matt. It is interesting to see how the band made the decision to manage their own affairs once McGhee was taken out of the equation in the early 90s and how some of their most profitable years financially and in terms of popularity came without the classic figure of a manager, but with a very well-oiled team of people behind it and Jon taking the executive lead.

A convenient advertorial

While it is true that the documentary may err on the side of a dramatized advertorial, it offers the clearest vision to date of the band’s machinery, the personalities involved and the cost of certain movements and decisions. And what is most innovative: it shows us a part of the garbage, in a measured and controlled way. Even with everything, the excesses were always carried out by “the others” and never by Jon, who was always worried about taking care of his voice and getting up early to do interviews in each city. It seems that, in a way, the documentary seeks to make a hagiography of the vocalist as someone pure, worried about his voice and hurt by not being able to sing as he would like, who has never broken a plate in his life. His insistence on not becoming the “fat Elvis” at the end of his career denotes a great appreciation for protecting his legacy and public image but also a certain inability to process the frustration that comes with growing older and not having control over something. as elemental as his own voice. It doesn’t matter that he has nothing to prove anymore. A certain narcissism forces him to want to be who he was and his suffering, although understandable, is more of a self-harm.

In short: someone fire John Shanks (a music journalist friend calls him “Bon Jovi’s cancer”), Richie Sambora and Jon go to dinner and make peace, and they give us a stadium tour with pre-recorded tracks. of Jon’s voice and to stop beating himself up. He is 62 years old and has conquered planet Earth, several times. We want to sing “Bad Medicine” and remember when we were young. We would even be willing to pay €120 or €150 per ticket. Someone get on with it, please.

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