Story/song analysis: Shot to hell song

Analysis of a song

. . . . . . . The song “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi is pure Joi-zee. New Jersey suffuses it, lights it up like neon, and informs it. And what is New Jersey? It’s a blighted urban wasteland that lives in the cold glorious shadow of Manhattan, New York. Newark and Camden are leftovers of the early 20th century when manufacturing was king. Now, in an era of content creation, they’re nothing. There’s a lesson there.

. . . . . . . The beginning is 100% synthesizer. The “whoa-oh-wuh-oh” robotic voice complements this synthesizer segment nicely. {cont.}

. . . . . . . Then we begin with the lyrics, with a violin backdrop. We’ve traversed the distance from post-modern to classic in a single fell swoop.

. . . . . . . Jon Bon Jovi’s voice is middle-of-the-road pop-rock. There’s nothing particularly unique or hardcore about him, yet within the structure of this song it works. Why is that? Because this is a song about the everyman. A man whose union has deserted him, whose job has been withheld from him, whose very livelihood is threatened. In it we see ourselves if we’ve ever been vulnerable and alone. An everyman rocker singing about an everyman hero has a kind of synchronicity to it. And his routine sufferings find expression in rock music’s growlings.

. . . . . . . Jon Bon Jovi is like Enrique Iglesias in that he substitutes passion for singing excellence. Both singers have adapted themselves for the genre they work on in.

. . . . . . . When Bon Jovi sings “Whoooooaaa” in a long diving swoop, he spikes the energy level of the song to new levels. And therein lies the success of the song: it’s all about energy and life versus the entropy of death. At Bon Jovi’s current age I don’t think he can do his source material justice, but I’m sure he’s still wailing it out for the crowds.

. . . . . . . What ultimately makes the song work is the lyrics. It’s a story-song. There aren’t too many of these in the annals of pop, which is surprising, considering they’re among the easiest songs to write and the most rewarding to sing. The audience loves them.

. . . . . . . That last paragraph is what I want you to take away from this analysis. When you write your music, aim for one of the forms that pleases the audience the most. It’s like writing in a pro blog — you’re appealing to the audience member and trying to hit his sweet spot. It’s the process that produces the results; and the results are tremulous and tender.

Story: On the Jersey Docks with a meat hook

Colossal-Man slowly strode through the meatpacking warehouse, chilled temps, pain in his left ankle where the little lady stabbed him, and swung the meat hook.

13 thoughts on “Story/song analysis: Shot to hell song

  1. I used to try to appeal to an audience. But these days – now that no one gives a crap about what I compose – I do what I like! Being the only one who hears it I can say I get 100% audience appreciation. (Incidentally I got partially addicted to the Enrique Iglesias song you posted recently – I didn’t know it before).

    1. What I try and do is write TWO POSTS and post the “popular-sounding” one above the one that appeals to me. That way, there’s something for “them” and something for me.

        1. I wouldn’t worry too much about trying to appeal to people. There’s always an audience for yourself, so long as you go from site to site and keep commenting. Keep commenting and drawing curious people to your site. It’s mostly a matter of persistence combined with hit-and-miss luck. Even if you don’t get someone from another site’s commenting section, the WordPress Reader will deliver some people into your evil little hands (mwa ha ha ha) and you can do with them what you will.

  2. this is a terrific analysis of a song I admire hugely; writing pop songs is tough; I spent a few years trying my hand at it: hey, how hard can it be? I asked; I write poetry, anyone can write a pop song; wrong ….

    1. Yeah, pop songs are so hard to write that most groups are lucky to have a one-hit wonder under their belts. The Beatles were a lucky streak, while Elvis kept producing HITS because of his HIPS. You wanna be popular, be cute with the chicks.

        1. John, have you had many heat waves this year in Oz? It’s been unseasonably hot in Vancouver, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. (It’s probable we live on opposite sides of the same vast ocean, me on the East side, you on the West.)

  3. I do find it strange that my two most earnest commenters are both from Oceania, John from Australia, Bruce from New Zealand. What are the odds and why is this?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

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