While the title of Bon Jovi's new album, Bounce, is meant to reflect the strength and resiliency of Americans following the September 11 tragedies, frontman Jon Bon Jovi avoided making it a concept piece in the vein of Bruce Springsteen's The Rising.
"This is not a 9/11 record, but had I not made any reference to what happened on that day I would have been remiss," Bon Jovi said. "I live in New Jersey. The smoke was wafting over my house, the towers were burning in front of me and my community was affected. But I wasn't going to put myself in the shoes of the widow or widower. I couldn't jump on a soapbox or some celebrity 9/11 bandwagon. That would have been crossing the line."
Actually, much of Bounce, which comes out October 8, addresses the type of romantic schmaltz Bon Jovi has written about for nearly 20 years, and some of it was even influenced by the frontman's acting career: "You Had Me From Hello" was named after a line in the film "Jerry Maguire," and "Open All Night" was based on his role in "Ally McBeal" (see "Bon Jovi Album Preview: The Real Meets The Ideal"). The tone and scope of the record, however, were considerably shaped by the world events of the past year.
"What began as a simple collection of pop songs became much more pointed post-9/11," he said. "Because we weren't writing anything for the sake of commerce or fluff. There wasn't going to be 'moon, June and spoon' lyrics or 'shake your booty' stuff. There was going to be some social commentary, and that gave me something to build on and we felt energized."
One of the more socially oriented songs on the record is "Hook Me Up," an uptempo track that builds rhythmically and features one of the band's trademark soaring choruses. The tune is about a boy in the West Bank during the mounting struggle between Israel and Palestine.
"The kid's on a ham radio and he's trying to communicate with the outside world," said Bon Jovi. "It's based on a true story we read in the paper."
The first single from Bounce is the ebullient "Everyday." Bon Jovi wrote the song partially to remind himself that sometimes he needs to slow down and notice what's going on in the here and now.
"Everybody is always striving for the future or living in the past. Who's smart enough to live in the moment?" he asked. "I haven't really learned to do that and sometimes I need to write things down in order to achieve them. I think I became more aware of the need to do that because of fragility of life after that situation [on 9/11]."
Bon Jovi is concerned that if people don't allow what's happening around them to sink in, they'll fail to grasp reality.
"We, as Americans, have all watched wars on television. And when you change the channel it's not there anymore. That seems to be the mindset of a lot of people in America," Bon Jovi said. "You watched the Kuwaiti situation 10 years ago and it looked like a video game. You could change the channel and just watch 'Friends.' This [terrorist attack] is something that hit home for the first time in such a major way that it had to wake up all of us as people to start being aware."
— Jon Wiederhorn, with additional reporting by Iann Robinson