Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wanted: Dead or Alive

I don't think I'd have really characterized myself as a huge Bon Jovi fan back when he was big. In the age of hair bands, he was always a little more pop and I was a lot more metal, so while I didn't really mind his music, I didn't run right out and buy it, either. In fact, I can't recall whether I owned any of his albums or not. I suspect I didn't.

He did have a couple of songs I really, really liked, however. Runaway wasn't too bad, but Wanted: Dead or Alive and Blaze of Glory really worked for me, and still do to this day. I loved the Young Guns movies, and here's a little trivia:  the Young Guns producers wanted to use Wanted: Dead or Alive in Young Guns II. The name certainly fits, but if you listen to the lyrics, it's actually a song complaining about life as a rock star on tour (much like Bob Seger's "Turn the Page" and several other tunes I could name), and has nothing to do with a film about wild west outlaws. I suspect Bon Jovi figured that out pretty quickly, because he offered to write a song just for the movie, instead. And thus, Blaze of Glory was born. It even has the words, "I'm a young gun" right in it, and a much more twangy, wild west feel to it. Jon even has a cameo in the film, getting shot as Billy the Kid and company bust out of town. I'm pretty sure it was his first acting role.

Anyway, fast forward twenty years or so. My wife and I have Bon Jovi's greatest hits on CD. We don't really listen to it all that much, but I got my hands on it and decided it was kid-friendly enough to put in the car. I was thoroughly sick of listening to the soundtrack to Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron for the 500th time (which isn't to say it's not a great soundtrack, because it's actually got some really excellent Bryan Adams tunes on it. But egads, we must have listened to it for what seems like a year straight) and wanted something new. The kids complained bitterly at first, as they always seem to do, but they warmed up to it to the point where they no longer want to listen to anything else.They know all the lyrics from Livin on a Prayer to Bed of Roses to Runaway (though there are definitely some lyrics they don't really understand, which is fine by me) and sing them all the way to and from karate or wherever else we may go.

As I've mentioned before, my son and I are feebly trying to learn to play the guitar. We suck, but we suck a little less than we did when we started over 18 months ago. For Christmas we got electric guitars and amps, and my loving wife bought me a book of - wait for it - Bon Jovi sheet music for the guitar. Now, granted, my first attempt at "modern" electric guitar axe-play was to try to learn Metallica's "One," but I'm no Kirk Hammet and I got bogged down pretty quickly on some of his fancy fretwork. Wanted: Dead or Alive seemed like it might be a better choice.

We've been working on it for a month, and I can honestly say we've got the intro down pretty darn well, if not necessarily at full speed. Also, we're playing on six-strings rather than a twelve-string, so it sounds a bit different. I'm pretty proud of what we've learned so far. Last week we started on the body of the song, with some help from our guitar teacher. It's going to take us quite a while to learn the song, but listening to it, it sounds like lots of pieces repeat, so there should be a point sometime kind of soon where we're not learning new parts so much as trying to tie them together. There's a solo that'll take some doing, I'm sure. As much as I'm no Kirk Hammet, I'm also no Ritchie Sambora. We're having a blast, though, as I walk these streets, a loaded six-string on my back.

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