“hoping it would never end. Never say goodbye” – Bon Jovi
When a Bon Jovi song comes on the radio it’s kind of like an old friend coming to visit for three or four minutes. I can’t say the same about other artists, because Bon Jovi has never really disappeared like other artists have over the years. Bands have broken up, artists have moved on, but for Bon Jovi, they just released their 13th studio album, “This House is Not For Sale” (albeit without longtime guitarist Richie Sambora).
The 54 year old front man of the group still appears to be in great shape even though his long hair days are over, but in June of 1987 when this particular Bon Jovi song was released I was a junior-to-be at Norman High School. I had long(ish) hair. I was a student, an athlete, a son, and a shy insecure 16 year old trying to figure out how to land a date with a cheerleader without, you know, ever talking to one. The band Bon Jovi, on the otherhand, were a worldwide sensation riding the wave of popularity thanks in large part to their “Slippery When Wet” album.
“I pass my time with strangers. But this bottle’s my only friend”
Nope. Never really passed my time with strangers and never drank in high school. In fact I never put myself into that position. I just avoided it. I pretty much knew who was going to be at the parties and events, and I really didn’t want to deal with the peer pressure so I just didn’t go looking for that type of stuff. Outside of home football games and basketball related activities and games I was a homebody. As one of the best basketball players in the school and the son of a high profile coach at OU I just didn’t want to embarrass myself or my family or my coaches and teammates by doing anything stupid.
“Remember when we lost the keys. And you lost more than that in my backseat”
And that would be a no as well. Never lost my keys. Locked them in the car twice in one week. That sucked. Both times I was parked out by the baseball field where you were usually relegated to whenever you didn’t have a first hour class because of having athletics at the end of the day. Oh, and there was never any female losing anything in my backseat either. I was fortunate just to have one in my front seat.
“Remember days of skipping school. Racing cars and being cool”
So I get a partial truth here. I did skip school in high school. Once. It was “senior skip day” and I called in during lunch pretending to be my dad to say I was sick and wouldn’t be back that afternoon. So, off to someone’s house my buddy Barry and I went. I’m not sure who’s house it was but there was beer (which I again avoided), and a lot of my friends were there. Of course I got busted after I got home. I probably lost my driving privelages for a while. Speaking of driving…
Racing cars? Ha! Though my ’84 Camaro could get up and go I never had any desire to race a car though I did get pulled over one Sunday night after leaving St. Joe’s Catholic Church in downtown Norman where I’d been in Catechism class. There is a one way street that runs west called Gray Street. A friend of mine, let’s call him Chester (I don’t think he has any recollection to this day of this event) pulled up next to me at the intersection of Gray and Porter and revved his engine like he was challenging me to a race. I don’t have any idea what he was driving back then but I obliged by revving mine and then we had what I would call a fake race of speeding up and slowing down for a block or two down Gray and that’s when I saw the police lights. He pulled us both over, and to the best of my recollection let us go with warnings.
“Remember how we used to talk. About busting out, we’d break their hearts”
Pretty sure this was an everyday occurance when you’re a teenager. Can’t wait until I get out of school. Can’t wait until I get to college. Can’t wait until I get out of this town. Dreams. That’s a whole different post, but the theme is not. When you’re 16 or 17 it seems like high school is never going to end. Days and weeks drag on. Calendars turn slowly. Now, the days and years fly right by me like technological advances.
I was just talking with a friend the other day at lunch and was mentioning to him how I could remember some things in great detail from my high school and college days, but if you ask me to name one great thing that happened to me in 2007 or 2004? I’d be hard-pressed to name you one. Crazy how the memory works sometime. I can remember a meaningless random Friday night from when I was 17, but can’t remember what I did two Friday’s ago.
“Remember at the prom that night. You and me we had a fight.”
Nope. Never had any fight at a prom. I went to my senior prom. I think it was the first official tuxedo I ever wore (pink cumberbun and bowtie). There were six of us total and I drove my parents’ sweet yellow Cadillac.
“We danced so close. We danced so slow. And I swore I’d never let you go”
We might have danced close and slow, but it was our only date, and the whole event itself (held on the OU campus) was a civilized, tame evening that ended with some putt-putt golf and dropping off my date at her parents’ front door step. Not exactly the memory making can-you-believe-that-happened type of night every high school senior dreams of.
So this song just makes me feel like I’m back in 1987 or 88 and I will say it wasn’t particularly an awesome time by any means, but there’s just something you appreciate about growing up in the 80’s more and more as the years roll by. Is it the friends I made or the music I listened to or the experiences of it all? It’s a combination of it all really.
“Holdin’ on we got to try. Holdin’ on to never say goodbye”
Even though Bon Jovi is still relevant and producing music in the present day, there’s no arguing about this one fact – give me 1987 Bon Jovi over 2016 Bon Jovi. With apologies to “Bed of Roses,” “This Ain’t a Love Song,” and “I’ll Be There for You” I will take today’s song as my favorite ballad of theirs.
The nostalgic lyrics over Richie Sambora’s melodic guitar riff takes you back to another era and I think that’s what they intentionally or unintentionally came up with when they decided to slot this track into the #9 position on their monstrous “Slippery When Wet” album. “Never Say Goodbye” was never officially released as a commercial single so it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 though it did reach #11 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks.
I hope this post brought back a few good memories for you. By the way, I did get that date with the cheerleader. As always, thanks for reading.