Livin' on a Prayer
"Livin' on a Prayer" is Bon Jovi's second chart-topping single from their third album Slippery When Wet. Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, and Desmond Child, the single, released in late 1986, was well received at both rock and pop radio and its music video was given heavy rotation at MTV, giving the band their first No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and their second consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit.
|"Livin' on a Prayer"|
|Single by Bon Jovi|
|from the album Slippery When Wet|
|B-side||"Wild in the Streets"|
|Released||October 31, 1986|
|Length||4:11 (album version)|
4:23 (Rock Band 2 edit)
5:07 (DualDisc remix) 5:16 (Crossroads re-record version)
|Bon Jovi singles chronology|
The song is the band's signature song, topping fan-voted lists and re-charting around the world decades after its release. The original 45-RPM single release sold 800,000 copies in the United States, and in 2013 was certified Triple Platinum for over 3 million digital downloads. The official music video has over 640 million views on YouTube as of January 2020[update].
Jon Bon Jovi did not like the original recording of this song, which can be found as a hidden track on 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong. Lead guitarist Richie Sambora, however, convinced him the song was good, and they reworked it with a new bassline (recorded by Hugh McDonald uncredited ), different drum fills and the use of a talk box to include it on Slippery When Wet. The song spent two weeks at number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, from January 31 to February 14, 1987, and four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, from February 14 to March 14. It also hit number four on the UK singles chart.
The album version of the song, timed around 4:10, fades out at the end. However, the music video game Guitar Hero World Tour features the song's original studio ending, where the band revisit the intro riff and end with a talk box solo; this version ends at 4:53. The original ending is also playable on the similar video game Rock Band 2, though edited in this case (thereby eliminating the talk box solo at the end). The version included on the 2005 DualDisc edition of Slippery When Wet has an extended version of the original ending, with a different talk box solo playing over the riff (possibly taken from an outtake of the song); this version, which fades out at the end like the standard version of the song, ends at 5:06.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks – in which New Jersey was the second-hardest hit state after New York, suffering hundreds of casualties among both WTC workers and first responders – the band performed an acoustic version of this song for New York. Bon Jovi performed a similar version as part of the special America: A Tribute to Heroes.
In 2006, online voters rated "Livin' on a Prayer" No. 1 on VH1's list of The 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s. More recently, in New Zealand, "Livin' on a Prayer" was No. 1 on the C4 music channel's show U Choose 40, on the 80's Icons list. It was also No. 1 on the "Sing-a-long Classics List". After Bon Jovi performed in New Zealand on January 28, 2008 while on their Lost Highway Tour, the song re-entered the official New Zealand RIANZ singles chart at number 24, over twenty years after the initial release.
Australian music TV channel MAX placed this song at No. 18 on their 2008 countdown "Rock Songs: Top 100". In 2009, the song returned to the charts in the UK, notably hitting the number-one spot on the UK Rock Chart.
In 2010, it was chosen in an online vote on the Grammy.com website over the group's more recent hits "Always" and "It's My Life" to be played live by the band on the 52nd Grammy Awards telecast.
In the Billboard Hot 100 Anniversary 50, "Livin' on a Prayer" was named as 46 in the All time rock songs. After the song was released for download, the song has sold 3.4 million digital copies in the US as of November 2014.
The song, including its original ending, is also playable on the music video games Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2. The song was re-worked and made available to download on November 9, 2010 for use in the Rock Band 3 music gaming platform to take advantage of PRO mode which allows use of a real guitar / bass guitar, and standard MIDI-compatible electronic drum kits / keyboards in addition to up to three-part harmony or backup vocals.
In November 2013, the song made its return to the Billboard Hot 100 at number 25, due to a viral video.
The song reveals two characters, Tommy and Gina, a working-class couple who struggle to make ends meet. Tommy loses his job as a dockworker due to a strike while Gina works at a diner as a waitress. It was inspired by real-life events that Jon Bon Jovi and songwriter Desmond Child experienced. Jon Bon Jovi had an acquaintance who was a star baseball player in his school and wanted to be a professional baseball player only for his girlfriend to inform him of her pregnancy wherein he gave up the ambition and took up a job in a factory. Desmond Child was a taxi driver in New York while his then-girlfriend, singer-songwriter Maria Vidal, worked as a diner waitress, similar to Gina in the song. The owner and employees of the diner called Vidal as Gina due to her physical resemblance to Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida.
"It deals with the way that two kids – Tommy and Gina – face life's struggles," noted Bon Jovi, "and how their love and ambitions get them through the hard times. It's working class and it's real… I wanted to incorporate the movie element, and tell a story about people I knew. So instead of doing what I did on 'Runaway', where the girl didn't have a name, I gave them names, which gave them an identity… Tommy and Gina aren't two specific people; they represent a lifestyle."
Bon Jovi explained that he "wrote that song during the Reagan era and the trickle-down economics are really inspirational to writing songs". Tommy and Gina are also referred to in Bon Jovi's 2000 single "It's My Life".
The music video was filmed on September 17, 1986, at the Grand Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California and was directed by Wayne Isham. It all starts with a silhouette of the band walking down the hall and it features shots of the band rehearsing, filmed in black and white, then playing in front of a crowd, in color.
In the beginning of the video, Jon has a harness attached by professional stunt coordinators and stunt spotters, and during the final chorus, he soars over the crowd via overhead wires attached to the harness.
This section needs additional citations for verification. (August 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Bon Jovi have themselves reworked the song several times, including an acoustic live version that served as a precursor to the MTV Unplugged series and a re-recorded version of the song, "Prayer '94," which appeared on U.S. versions of their Cross Road hits collection.
In popular cultureEdit
In May 2013, the song was featured in a segment on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. In this segment, a man and his wife were at a gas station when they were suddenly offered a free tank of gas in exchange for singing a song. The husband, Will Sims II, responded by singing "Livin' on a Prayer." The video of the segment went viral, prompting Jon Bon Jovi to record a video personally thanking the couple for having "so much fun" with the band's song.
In May 2019, RocknMob, a group of over 270 musicians, covered the song in Gorky Park, Moscow, Russia. Done as a tribute to BonJovi returning to Moscow after a 30-year hiatus, the European leg of their 'This House Is Not For Sale' tour was launched in Moscow on May 31, 2019. As of June 2019, the video has gotten over 226K views on YouTube.
- Jon Bon Jovi – lead vocals
- Richie Sambora – electric guitar, talk box, backing vocals
- Alec John Such – bass guitar (credited), backing vocals
- Tico Torres – drums, percussion, finger cymbals
- David Bryan – keyboards, backing vocals
Charts and certificationsEdit
Sales and certificationsEdit
- "On this day in 1987: Bon Jovi's 'Livin' On A Prayer' starts a four-week run at No.1". The Hot Press. February 14, 2019. Retrieved September 4, 2019.
- "AllMusic (Bon Jovi charts & awards) Billboard singles".
- Brodén, Victor. "On Bass: The Song Guys". Premier Guitar. Retrieved March 10, 2017.
- Setaro, Shawn. "Inside The Business Of Bon Jovi With Bryan Reesman". Forbes. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
- McDonald, Hugh. "Hugh McDonald Official Website – Discography". Internet Archive. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "RIANZ". Archived from the original on March 17, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
- "More GRAMMY Performers, Presenters Announced". April 30, 2017.
- "Beyonce Swift Boated".
- "It's Only Rock & Roll: Top Billboard Hot 100 Rock Songs". Retrieved January 4, 2020.
- Appel, Rich (November 26, 2014). "Revisionist History, Part 5: Bon Jovi's 'Prayer' Answered, 'Caroline' Is Sweeter Than 'Sugar'". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 26, 2014.
- Kohler, Chris (November 9, 2010). "Bon Jovi Rock Band Tracks Upgraded with Pro Keys, Guitars". Wired. Retrieved November 9, 2012.
- Snider, Mike (June 10, 2010). "Rock Band 3: What's New, What's Notable". USA Today. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
- "The 19 greatest key changes in music history". ShortList. October 1, 2017. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
- Dome, Malcolm (July 2006). "We'll make it, I swear…". Classic Rock #94. p. 45–46.
- "Bon Jovi Calls George Bush as 'lunatic'!".
- "mvdbase.com – Wayne Isham technician videography".
- "Gas Pump Couple Join Leno On 'Tonight' For An Encore [Video]". Inquisitr. The Inquisitr. May 12, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- Bon Jovi, Jon (May 12, 2013). Thank you very much for having so much fun with the song! -JBJ. Johannesburg, South Africa: YouTube. Retrieved August 9, 2018.
- Komonibo, Ineye (December 5, 2019). "The Butterfly On The Masked Singer Was Revealed — & It Was The Show's Most Touching Moment". Refinery29. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
- McDonald, Hugh. "Hugh McDonald Official Website – Discography". www.huey-mcdonald.com. Archived at the Wayback Machine of Internet Archive. Archived from the original on March 2, 2012. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). Sydney: Australian Chart Book. p. 41. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
- "Ultratop.be – Bon Jovi – Livin' On A Prayer" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
- "Radio2 top 30: 7 february 1987" (in Dutch). Top 30. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Top Singles – Volume 45, No. 23, March 14, 1987". RPM. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – Bon Jovi – Livin' on a Prayer". GfK Entertainment Charts.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Livin' On A Prayer". Irish Singles Chart.
- "Nederlandse Top 40 – Bon Jovi" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Dutchcharts.nl – Bon Jovi – Livin' On A Prayer" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
- "Charts.nz – Bon Jovi – Livin' On A Prayer". Top 40 Singles.
- "Norwegiancharts.com – Bon Jovi – Livin' On A Prayer". VG-lista.
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- "South African Rock Lists Website SA Charts 1969–1989 Acts (B)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Bon Jovi – Livin' On A Prayer". Singles Top 100.
- "Swisscharts.com – Bon Jovi – Livin' On A Prayer". Swiss Singles Chart.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- "Official Rock & Metal Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "Bon Jovi Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
- "Bon Jovi Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved November 8, 2017.
- "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles – Week ending FEBRUARY 14, 1987". Cash Box magazine. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Bon Jovi Chart History (Hot Rock Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
- "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved May 22, 2017.
- "Top 100 Singles". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications: 24. January 24, 1987.
- "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – Top 100 End of Year AMR Charts – 1980s". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Jaaroverzichten 1987 (Flanders)" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Top 100 Singles of '87". RPM. Archived from the original on July 13, 2015. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- "Top 100-Jaaroverzicht van 1987" (in Dutch). Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1987" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Top Selling Singles of 1987". Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Top Pop Singles of '87". Billboard.biz. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- "Top Rock Tracks". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 99 (52): 16. December 26, 1987. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
- "The CASH BOX Year-End Charts: 1987". Cash Box magazine. Archived from the original on June 9, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
- "Canadian single certifications – Bon Jovi – Livin' on a Prayer". Music Canada.
- "Italian single certifications – Bon Jovi – Livin' on a Prayer" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved September 24, 2018. Select "2018" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Livin' on a Prayer" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
- "Single Certification List – August 2010" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
- "British single certifications – Bon Jovi – Livin' on a Prayer". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 15, 2016. Select singles in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Livin' on a Prayer in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
- "American single certifications – Bon Jovi – Livin' on a Prayer". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH.