Jon Bon Jovi maintains that he had serious doubts about Bon Jovi's 1986 signature tine — “Livin' On A Prayer.” Bon Jovi co-wrote the tune with bandmate Richie Sambora and noted songwriter Desmond Child — and maintains its success took him by surprise.
In a new interview with The Irish Times, he said, “That song, God bless it. But, my God, who knew? Not us, I can assure you. It was created on a day when none of us had any ideas. We just had a conversation, and it came out of that. I’m sure happy my name’s on it!”
He went on to recall, “I remember walking out of the room with Richie and I said, 'Eh, it’s okay. Maybe we should just put it on a movie soundtrack.' Richie looked at me and said, 'You’re an idiot. It’s really good.' I said, 'I just don’t know where it’s going.' But it didn’t have that boom-boom-boom bassline yet, so it sounded more like the Clash.”
Back in 2019 during his “Runaway To Paradise” fan cruises onboard the Norwegian Pearl, Bon Jovi took part in Q&A and shed light on his decision to stay with the song — rather than act on his initial instincts: “Ultimately, the song was so unique. It didn’t sound like anything. Y'know, 'Runaway' had eight notes, like a lot of songs on the radio at the time. Even '(You Give Love A) Bad Name' was reminiscent of other songs that were on the radio. 'Livin' On A Prayer' didn’t sound like anything. So, I was sort of indifferent. I thought, 'Well, it’s different, but is it a rock song? Is it us?' Granted, we wrote it on acoustic guitars, so there was no drum beat or anything. There was no bass line.”
Richie Sambora explained to us why “Livin' On A Prayer” is probably one of the most durable and universal songs he ever co-wrote with Bon Jovi and Desmond Child: “All of us have been in a situation where, y'know, you've been kind of like on the balls of your butt and you don't know what's going to happen. Either it's your girlfriend, or your parents, or your friend, or your dog — or somebody kind of helps you along. Y'know, we've all been 'Tommy and Gina' — the two characters that Jon and I and Desmond created in that particular song.”