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Jon Bon in the Reader's Digest...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An Interview With Jon Bon Jovi
Rock star Bon Jovi on politics, courage and the urge for scalp massages.

It’s been nearly three decades since Runaway kicked off his career, but New Jersey born singer Jon Bon Jovi still has that boyish grin that broke so many girls’ hearts around the globe. Nevertheless, talking to Reader’s Digest, the father of four reveals that he has outlived the light-hearted dude in the spandex trousers a long time ago. And while he still knows how to rock the masses, the 47-year-old (*March 2, 1962) definitely cares about what’s going on outside the limelight.

Reader’s Digest: You were supposed to take things slow in 2009. Why do we now have The Circle, a complete new album?

Jon Bon Jovi: Because I’m a liar (laughing). But that’s right. The intention this year was to do only two or three songs for a Greatest Hits album. But then came October 2008, the economies of the world changed and a new president was elected in the U.S. in November. So there was a lot of subject matter and we started writing up a firestorm. Before you knew it, not only did we have the songs for the Greatest Hits but we had a heck of an album.

RD: The sound is much different from what you have put out in the last 20 years. There are lots of sonic textures that could be off a Coldplay album.

JBJ: Yet there are the monster anthems, you know, like We Weren’t Born To Follow - if that’s not us, nothing is. It’s a rock album, no question about that, but it also says something: it’s a simpler time where what matters is no longer "bigger, better" and "me, me, me". After eight years of Bush, America finally believes in change again and is ready for a new way of thinking with a new president.

RD: Is that euphoria that Obama unleashed at the beginning of his presidency still out there?

JBJ: It’s not where it was in November of last year. And I’m disappointed by that already because there are those on the other side of the political fence who are so good at causing a firestorm out of nothing and creating fear in the minds of those who aren’t paying very close attention. They can be easily swayed by the media.

RD: Give us an example.

JBJ: The president is trying hard to work on his health care initiative. Millions of people in the U.S. have no health insurance but there’s opposition from special interest groups who make good money with the existing health-care business: Manufacturers of drugs, doctors and insurance companies. And that’s legitimate. What I don’t accept are lies like: "Well, it doesn’t work in Canada or Great Britain.” And even worse is the spin that some of the media are putting on the issue. They go so far as to assert Obama would like to get rid of the country’s elderly people – comparing his ideas to those of Nazi Germany by saying that under his program lives "not worth living” would be euthanized. There are more than a few people in America who believe that’s what the president is trying to do.

RD: Had Hillary Clinton been elected, who you supported during the presidential campaign, would she have faced the same problems?

JBJ: Oh sure! Anybody would have had the same problems. If we had a Republican in there, the left would have gone crazy on it. But that’s the problem with politics. We’ve lost that dividing line that was still there when Kennedy was in office, when they would respect the president even if they disagreed with him. Now it’s got to a point where they would just pick on anything that Clinton or Bush Jr. or now Obama would do. We’ve all lost that great respect we once had for the office and many feel it within their rights to comment or blog about the clothes they wear, their haircuts or whatever else that makes for a good potshot at the president. It’s just crazy.

RD: What is your new single, We Weren’t Born To Follow about?

JBJ: It deals with events like the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran. It’s meant to be an empowerment song for people who are committed. People like the young Iranian demonstrator Neda who (in June 2009) gave her life for her conviction. She was a leader, not a follower.

RD: Should the Americans have marched into Iran?

JBJ: They haven’t done it so far and we hope it will remain a hands-off kind of thing there. You have to respect the cultures and governments of other countries. And you’ve got to be careful with guys like Ahmadinejad, taking it just one step at a time.

RD: Does that mean politicians and military people should travel a little more – just like you do?

JBJ: Well, that’s for sure. God, I mean look, less than a third of Americans have a passport. Fortunately for us, as a band we’ve travelled to as many places as we could over the last 26 years. We’ve been out there quasi as ambassadors of American pop culture, since the time the Wall was still up and the Cold War was still on. Back then we even travelled into the East Bloc countries and represented pop culture there.

RD: Can you imagine yourself entering politics?

JBJ: Are you kidding? I have too thin a skin.

RD: So you’d rather concentrate on what you’re best at: Fronting a globally successful band that’s been going strong for 26 years?

JBJ: Exactly. It’s hard to get into such a band, and it’s even more difficult to get out. I’ve spent more of my adult life with these guys than with my wife and kids.

RD: Is the band like a sexless marriage?

JBJ: (chuckles): Yeah, this is your marriage, your family. But it’s a good place to be.

RD: Have you ever asked yourself how long you can go on doing this?

JBJ: I have no desire to become the next Mick Jagger and still be out there doing this in my late sixties. But I see no reason to stop right now.

RD: Is old age a scary thing?

JBJ: It’s hard to believe that I’m already 47, because I still feel as if I were 18. But I’m sure that lots of guys my age will tell you the same thing.

RD: What about the loss of hair that most men your age have to deal with? The British tabloids report that you preserve your hairstyle with scalp massages. Is that right?

JBJ: I wish, I wish. But my wife won’t do it, and it would be embarrassing to let some hot young chick massage my scalp. At least I still have my hair. It’s gradually getting grey. I guess that’s what comes with all the stress.

RD: But then again you are always looking for new responsibilities. Are you a multi-tasker by heart?

JBJ: Perhaps that’s the answer. In any case I never was one to rest on yesterday’s successes. I’m much more motivated to find new challenges.

RD: While you’ve retired the actor in you? Is that your own private Waterloo?
JBJ: Yeah, I’m done with that. I admire this art form too much to make movies that nobody’s going to see.

RD: How do you feel today about your very first job selling women’s shoes? Is it something you’re ashamed of?
JBJ: Not at all.

RD: Were you a good salesman?
JBJ: Terrible! I spent most of the time stocking shelves and cleaning the bathrooms. But the moments when I was kneeling in front of some pretty woman were always something special!

Jon Bon Jovi lives with his wife, Dorothea, in New Jersey. The couple have three sons and one daughter. In the spring of 2010, he will go on a world tour with his band Bon Jovi and their new album The Circle.

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I am and always have been a Bon Jovi fan. This blog is just my obsession taken a step further, my imagination in high gear if you will. I love to read and decided to see what would happen when I took that love of the written word and ramped it up a bit.

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