Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Bon Jovi: "Wanted Dead or Alive"

Warren Zevon: "Wanted Dead or Alive"

If you read my usual blog, you know full well that while I have a wide-ranging appreciation of music genres, among the last that you will ever hear positive comments about from me is hair metal. More specifically, '80s hair metal -- bands like Poison, Warrant, Cinderella, Winger, and that ilk. And that would most certainly include Bon Jovi. I felt something very much like hate for them back then, although that has waned to simple indifference, as most of my strong music dislikes seem to do over the course of time.

But naturally, there are always exceptions, aren't there? And in this case, it's "Wanted Dead or Alive," that classic work of journeyman rock from Bon Jovi's otherwise terrible 1986 Slippery When Wet album. It was about as close to a "Stairway to Heaven" of hair metal that would ever be crafted. Just don't listen too closely to the lyrics -- otherwise you'll have to spend too much time rationalizing to yourself that you like a song with the lines, "I've seen a million faces/And I've rocked them all." Nonetheless, despite all the reasons that I shouldn't like it, I still truly enjoy the song. I guess I'm a sucker for that chord progression.

But let's get to the theme here: homonymic song titles. And to that effect, for the other song in this pair, I offer up Warren Zevon's own "Wanted Dead or Alive." And Zevon not only had the song -- it's even the title of his 1969 debut album that this comes from. Zevon's "Wanted Dead or Alive" is a shuffling, bluesy, and somewhat sloppy acoustic number; certainly not his best track, but enjoyable anyway. It may be not all that far removed from Bon Jovi's song, in a way, but it never builds to the (melo)dramatic crescendo of that song. Not to mention that Zevon apparently didn't rock a million faces -- at least by the time he wrote this song. He waited for "Werewolves of London" to do that.

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