Homebound Train (1988)
One name, one proper noun – sums up why love this song and include it in essential Bon Jovi deep tracks: Richie Sambora. From the bluesy guitar notes that both open and close this song like perfect bookends to hard driving rhythm guitar to the blistering, extended solo – this song reigns supreme in the Bon Jovi canon. This song has more uncomplicated, but heartfelt lyrics – just a man who has been away from home for a long time and who is extremely anxious to get back to his woman. It is the music that makes this song really stand out. The entire band is musically ‘felt’ in the song. Sambora’s hard driving rhythm guitar is accompanied by drums that are being played just as hard. The solo trades bars with Bryan’s keyboards and there is even a strong bass solo by Alec John Such. This is one of the band’s rock songs that is a bit harder and one that I considered one of their most perfect rock compositions. The only thing that I do not like about this song is that is ends.
Bonus: Dry County (1992)
I had to sneak in one non-’80s song only because it is my all time favorite Bon Jovi track. Despite all of the great songs that I love, this one always wins out as my favorite – hands down, no question, no wavering, #1. What does it is that this is a complete rock song. The band is not worried about popular subject matter or making it fit into a certain length. This song is not meant for the radio, rather it has a higher purpose that bands are not always allowed to strive for unless a certain level of success has been achieved. This song is written in a first person narrative about a man who has left his home and family to chase the dream of wealth in the oil fields of the South. The story is a sad one. By song’s end, the speaker is contemplating suicide, “If I could choose the way I’d die / Make it by gun or knife / ‘Cause the other way there’s too much pain / Night after night after night.” He, like many others, is chasing a dream – a dream of the riches that are to be had in the oil wells. What he does not realize is that there is not enough to go around for everyone who is flocking to the South. Things dry up, “Now the oil’s gone / And the money’s gone / All the jobs are gone / Still we’re hangin’ on.” Perhaps due to the harsh economic conditions, there is a strong vein of Christianity in this song. This is not the only Jon Bon Jovi penned song that contains this, but this song is full of it. Phrases like, “Praying for some holy water”, “To wash these sins from our hands”, “‘In the blessed name of Jesus”, and “We are all God’s children” dominate this song and give it a strong religious undercurrent. The man is working hard, but he is finding it impossible to make a life from the dust. This song has an absolutely wonderful solo by Sambora that drives home the desperation of the man’s situation. This song is a different one for Bon Jovi. It is a brave song that defends the common man while at the same time drawing attention to the bleak cards that he has been dealt. The video for this song includes a written component that make the theme impossible to miss. I applaud the creativity and bravery of this song. Best Bon Jovi song EVER!
These are some great songs that surely lit your Bon Jovi fires. Next week I feel compelled to continue with more Bon Jovi. I will feature five tracks from the box set 100,000,000 Million Fans Can’t Be Wrong released in 2004.Follow @returntothe80s