Friday, 18 June 2010

Livin' On A Prayer - Rock's Greatest Anthem Through The Ages!

As Kid Rock mused in Bon Jovi's recent rockumentary: "...put livin on a prayer on [in a club] the crowd's singing it word for word; you cut the mixer off and woahh we're halfway there...". The 1986 superhit that rocketed Bon Jovi to superstardom (ironically, the very same hit that Jon originally wanted to leave off of Slippery When Wet) is still, as Kid Rock says, 24 years on, being played in clubs all over the world and still rousing fans and haters alike into drunken singalongs. The song itself, arguably an anthem for 80's hair metal that has stood the test of time, has had its fair share of 'fiddling' and re-releasing on Bon Jovi's part, and I'm going to briefly explore the different creations in this post.

The Demo. 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong - Boxset
If you step back in time to circa 1985, this is the oldest offering of Prayer although probably the most recent to have been released. The core of the song is clearly there, but Richie's iconic talkbox and guitar solo are but a distant dream at this stage.

The original. Slippery When Wet.
Prayer's most popular version. Whether you're 'Living' or 'Livin' on a prayer, even the most ardent of critics couldn't fail to pull their cowboy hats low over the brows and join in with the world's greatest singalong chorus.

The alternative. Prayer '94 - Crossroad.
This version of the song really captures the passion and similar melodies Jon and Richie explore when singing the song acoustically (remember a barefoot stripped down performance of Prayer and Wanted started the whole MTV Unplugged program). In my opinion it's a semi-favourite, although many diehard Jovi fans would I'm sure disagree. I just love the alternative drum part, different solo, Richie's presence in the vocal department and the overall feel and emotion that the song evokes.

The hated one. This Left Feels Right.
'Don't mess with our hits and our memories'; the horrified cries of Bon Jovi fans alike on listening to the band's sideways step of re-writng all their classic songs. And although the song still has a nice feel, the emphasis of the lyrics and the entire feel of the song switches and falters. And Oliva D'Abo's shared lead-vocals aren't totally my cup of tea; her style of singing is very much a 'marmite vocal'. Suffice to say, most disliked this one a lot.

The Crowd's Favourite. Live.
Nowadays, Prayer features in every show the band play, sitting in the final encore spot on their current Circle tour. As he did on the Lost Highway tour, the song starts with Jon singing the pre-chorus a cappella, stomping his foot in time as the entire audience join in with a soaring, and quite moving, unified vocal on the chorus before David brings in the breezy synth and the band starts the song as it should be, as it was intended to be. My favourite. Alonside tens of thousands of fans, the high notes suddenly not that high anymore as you're singing on autopilot and it just sounds incredible.

So there you have it! If you're a fan of the band or the song, I hope you've enjoyed my collection of different versions :)


  1. This was great! I think my favorite is when they do this song acoustically, like way back when on MTv. I love the harmonization that Jon and Richie have. It is just amazing.

    Thanks again for this look at one of my favorite songs. :)

  2. Can't beat it live, either electric or acoustic. :)

  3. Kid Rock and Bon Jovi together in New Jersey is going to be great! I am very amp'd for this show. Maybe Kid will come out and perform Livin on a Prayer with Bon Jovi!


  4. Bon Jovi has always been one of my favorite artist and when I saw Kid Rock perform live I fell in love with him and his music too! When I heard they are performing at the same concert July 9th at the New Meadowlands Stadium I went and bought my tickets right away!!!

  5. I think im one of the few that liked This left feels right perhaps its the fact that they could have easily played it safe and stuck to a familiar arrangement but choose to re-arrange it and other classic's .Its a shame that fans didnt like it as it would prob put the band off taking other "experimental"adventures which is a shame because some of their more left of centre music has become my fav like -Dry County,my guitar lies bleeding & Save a Prayer-Marq


Thanks for taking the time to write :)