Honestly Kid

by Daniel Damkoehler


2nd thoughts

Bon Jovi says ‘Thoreau is Like Ralph Emerson’

ThoreauMy good friend Jim (Happy Birthday, yo!) once hipped me to a deep dark truth about Jon Bon Jovi and the record industry. Apparently, New Jersey’s second favorite rock god, was forced to rewrite one of his early hits, Your Love is Like Bad Medicine. Instead of the refrain every 80s teen knew whether they wanted to or not, according to Jim’s sources, Bon Jovi wrote the song this way:

Thoreau is like Ralph Emerson
Ralph Emerson is what I read

Funny, eh?

I love that story and repeat it often. I particularly like telling it with a straight face to members of the unofficial “Bon Jovi Haters and Doubters Club” – you know ’em, they like to talk about the unparalleled greatness of Death Cab For Cutie, et al.

Get this straight, I am no Bon Jovi fan myself (and no Death Cab hater), but I do get it. It’s big, loud, sweaty, raucous fun music with nice hooks and get ’em sexed up attitude and lyrics. I don’t own a note of it.

I am, however, a bit of a Thoreau fan. Emerson not so much – a little too proto-new-age for my tastes, though occasionally he turns a phrase that’s worth a ponder or two. Like the one that came up on my scenic quote calendar a few days before my 40th birthday:

Be it how it will, do right now. Always scorn appearances and you always may.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nice one Ralph.

Just in time for Jim’s birthday, a few days after my own, a Thoreau quote appeared on the same calendar.

Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.

-Henry David Thoreau

Not such bad medicine, that.

Rock on, Jim.

2 Responses to “Bon Jovi says ‘Thoreau is Like Ralph Emerson’”

  1. Laura Damkoehler » August 28th, 2009

    I sure wouldn’t kick Jon Bon Jovi out of bed for eating crackers…

  2. kenneth » August 28th, 2009

    Reminds me of the old Neil Young vs Lynryd Skynyrd “feud”

    Members of both Neil and Skynyrd’s crews had a correspondence book club set up and would exchange books between festival gigs.

    An argument about which was more important to Southern Lit- 43’s The Glass Menagerie or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird 1960 broke out after two important summer touring shows.

    Young thought the Glass Menagerie was more important to 20th Century Southern Lit than Lee’s book which the Skynyrd band members and crew were more fond of.

    That’s why they wrote Freebird after hearing Young’s Old Man, which was *not* written about some old foreman on his Santa Cruz ranch, but from ther perspective of Laura Wingfield as she sees Jim:

    Old man take a look at my life
    I’m a lot like you
    I need someone to love me
    the whole day through
    Ah, one look in my eyes
    and you can tell that’s true.

    Eventually Ronnie Van Zant realized Young was probably correct, but would still get his goats by writing dismissive “zingers” in his lyrics as a response.

    That’s how we got the following as “Freebird”:
    Applause Harper Lee’s ‘Bird, now
    Dismiss ‘Bird and you’re deranged …

    Oh and btw, and Poison’s hit “Talk Dirty to Me” was written about Henry Miller, and came out a year before Bon Jovi’s bad medicine, but never gets the credit it should.