There were a lot of things I was expecting, when I started this new YouTube project.
It was called: My Life in Bon Jovi songs.
Naturally I expected a wild and exciting trip down memory lane.
In particular to the eighties.
Memories of the boyfriend who looked like Jon Bongiovi, had already been making a speedy comeback since I bought the ticket to this summer’s Bon Jovi concert.
And memories of attending my first concert at 16 years old (Bon Jovi 1988);
All to be expected.
I kept following their music into the 90s, although more in the background.
In 1989 I made a hard switch to Guns N Roses.
Now hold on! In my defense, the Jon Bongiovi boyfriend had split on me.
All records we had been listening to together, were tainted.
I had to move up, to a place where I could reclaim my own identity, somewhere he wouldn’t follow me.
Guns N Roses was that place.
I actually received a letter from him, that he liked that side of me. He’d obviously much rather have me all badass and angry listening to Guns N Roses, than the wrecked girl I was when he broke my heart.
Maybe because of this appreciation, I went “away” even further. Guns N Roses could stay, but I added Megadeth, Death Angel and Queensryche too.
All musical blocks I placed between my former boyfriend and me, that screamed:
“Go away! Take your new girlfriends which will no doubt be dumped after three, four months just like I was AND BE GONE THY DEVIL!”
In the early nineties I ran into him: my feelings for him were gone.
Guns N Roses had done its cathartic work of reshaping me.
In 1994 I let all hard rock go, and became a Madonna fan.
But what I failed to see for a very long time – actually until the recent Guns N Roses concerts here in Nijmegen- is that it was never Madonna’s music that I was a fan of.
It was HER.
She helped me to reinvent myself, just like heavy metal had helped me to become my own woman.
In 1998 Madonna created the album with the most guitars on it: Ray of Light.
To this day, that one is my favorite.
And to this day, if I put on a Guns N Roses record I come to life. I start breathing. When Guns N Roses played Nijmegen a few years back, I put on Appetite, probably for the first time in a decade or more.
Hearing Slash’s guitars in the Welcome to the Jungle intro?
MAN! Hello LIFE!!
My heartbeat went up, and I quit my job as a yoga teacher after 15 years.
Or at least that’s one way to look at it! LOL
It really brought back my former strength.
But I wasn’t expecting that type of impact, listening to Bon Jovi. Not at all. Maybe because the music was still contaminated, too much associated with being hurt so badly?
Or maybe because, as opposed to Guns N Roses, Bon Jovi had been making new music.
They had put out so many records, and I had not even listened to any of them since 2005, 2006.
Maybe I felt guilty for neglecting them. I don’t know.
Anyway, when they announced they were coming to Nijmegen, I bought a ticket and the records I was missing.
(oh I know about Spotify. Doesn’t count. I wanted CDs!)
I was pleasantly surprised by their latest record, This House Is Not For Sale.
I m now a few months further along the road and I haven’t studied their music as intensely as I would have liked. But something else happened.
The yoga studio which I basically tried to blow up after my Guns N Roses burst of power, kept coming back to me…
Three times I tried to stop my work as a yoga teacher. I even resigned my company from the Chamber of Commerce.
But it kept boomeranging back to me.
Now I can see why that was.
Because to me teaching yoga, being an entrepreneur, and being a writer are all linked. They’re all part of Me, Creative Me. I can’t cut the parts that aren’t making enough money, and replace them with other more monetizable activities.
Doesn’t work like that.
If I want a chance of a happy life I need to keep being a yoga teacher, AND an entrepreneur, AND a writer (obviously).
No cherry picking allowed.
So I kept the studio, registered my company again, and I started teaching privates (under my real name, not LS Harteveld).
And in all honesty, I ll just get a real job, if that doesn’t start paying the bills. But I won’t stop being an entrepreneur/yoga teacher/ writer ever again.
The moment when I was at my yoga studio for the first time in months, and I put This House is Not for Sale in the cd player, was magical.
I set each stone and I hammered each nail
This house is not for sale
Where memories live and the dream don’t fail
This house is not for sale
I’m coming home
So in retrospect that was the reason I didn’t actually dive head first into catching up with the ten plus years worth of Bon Jovi albums I had missed.
I was too busy saving myself.
Getting my life back on track.
But yesterday, I felt light and I knew the time had come to dive into Bon Jovi, and the project My Life in Bon Jovi songs came along.
I made a video on You give love a bad name, and today I started mapping out all songs I wanted to cover.
Counted the days until the concert, the number of episodes I intended to make. It was fifty-eight.
I created a playlist with all albums from Slippery when Wet until This House is Not for Sale, with the intention to keep culling it until I had my 58 favorites. How hard could that be?
58 Is so many, many songs!
So I started listening, and immediately had my First of the Mega Epiphanies.
Listen to this song:
PRETEND you’re a fourteen year old girl. You have successful, but fearful parents who tend to be on the overprotective side. So naturally you’re scared too.
You like boys, but feel incompetent at getting one who’s interesting, and “up for the job” so to speak.
You like the pretty boys.
You ALWAYS like the pretty boys…. the macho men. You may be a virgin, and you may not be the most popular girl in the class (You have friends but in general girls or girl-groups are of no interest to you) but you know these boys everybody says are players, will break your heart.
And also that they’re the only ones you re interested in.
You don’t care about the prize.
There is no way you’ll ever settle for safety, over the magnitude of your feelings when you’re really in love.
But you’re 14 and you’re barely even properly kissed.
Part of you is starting to lose faith, that you will have the sex life, the boy, the LIFE you deserve.
Everybody seems so used to life being grey, filled with 80s angst…
And then, you buy a Bon Jovi album, basically because you like their first two singles, and you put the cassette in the player.
And you hear
Let it Rock.
If there ever was an over- the-counter-sexual-awakening available, it has to be the Slippery When Wet album. And in particular it’s in that first song, that motherfucking build-up that even a virgin can feel in the parts of body that aren’t touched yet.
It was my own dormant sexuality that resonated with Bon Jovi. I honestly didn’t understand (to a degree, I still don’t) why not everybody was a Bon Jovi fan. Or if you don’t like Bon Jovi, then why not everybody was a fan of something heavier.
But now I have a theory:
You have to have to be able to deal with that kind of sexuality, those feelings being drawn out of you. I love that. Still do. The biggest problem between me and yoga, was that I like the energy going up.
Rise, rise, rise, and then we lick the flames and ride the waves. Feel we’re alive.
At my most controversial moments with my students, I would share what I will see as my most honest yoga message:
“If you can have sex instead of coming to yoga? I don’t even want to see you in class.”
That’s rooted there, in my sexuality as a teen. It’s rooted in Let it Rock.
That was my first big epiphany, that I realized I had found my sexual power in Bon Jovi songs.
But the second one was….wow…. I don’t know how to say this?
And this is not just a Bon Jovi thing, I ve made this mistake over, and over, and over again:
To think there is something as falling in love with someone’s looks.
There is always more.
Maybe for other people (men?) there can be such a thing as lusting after someone, but there was so much more to Jon Bongiovi than what met the eye.
I can’t blame myself, not really, for not picking that up when I was still that young.
The roles between us were very clear:
I was the teenage fan, the young girl.
And he was the idol, the rock star who traveled the world.
He was ten years my senior, so even from that perspective, there was no way this could be viewed as something “real”.
But in selecting the 58 Bon Jovi Songs of my life, I encountered many lyrics I had never heard. And since December (when I bought the ticket) I ve also been listening to their album presentation from This House is Not for Sale:
An intimate one-off concert in a theater, with a lot of talking, in between the brand new songs.
So before I started going through the hundreds of songs, to select the ones I would use for my series My Life in Bon Jovi Songs, I had been “prepped” by this concert, the album presentation.
Which is almost like a confession, a redemption, a rebirth.
It was Jon looking back on thirty years and everything that had passed.
He didn’t talk about how he singlehandedly saved the band in the early nineties.
When all five members, burned out by years of touring, were starting to turn on each other.
Jon stepped in.
Fired all management.
Appointed himself boss, put all others on the payroll and hired a mediator to help them talk through their hurts and patch up the mental wounds ten years of building their band and touring, had inflicted.
What a brave and at the same time incredible sad move to make. To have to make. To realize that either you’re gonna step up as a leader, or your life’s work and everything you’ve build will be torn apart, with all parties bickering over it.
The second crisis was in 2013 when Richie Sambora left the band.
Neither one of the two events were named during the album presentation, but plenty of other stories were.
And I think it was mostly the vulnerability in Jon’s voice that really struck a cord with me. Clearly uncomfortable doing so much talking instead of singing, the nerves added to the realness of it.
The rawness, of this man pulling his band, his friends, all the way from the early eighties to December 2016.
And as the bandleader he had to live with the mistakes he made.
It was the most moving Bon Jovi performance I ever saw.
So I was familiar with their present work, and their current mood (nourishing memories, holding things together), when I started going through the material.
But nothing could have prepared me for what happened.
And this is something I could have known, because I had heard actor Rami Malek say this when he was studying Freddie Mercury for the movie Bohemian Rhapsody.
Rami spelled out all lyrics and he had been captivated at how close he could get to Freddie.
How honest and transparent he had been. All that time.
That’s exactly what happened to me, listening to Bon Jovi.
How emotional it was.
It’s not that I m ashamed of being aggressively into Guns N Roses, and worse, after my boyfriend left me. Statements had to be made, bridges had to be burned, and strong measures were needed to learn how to back myself and not get crushed by the heartbreak and my overprotective parents.
And then I m not even speaking of the need to distance myself from my peers at university and everyone was Just. So. Bland.
I understand what happened there.
Bon Jovi left too much room for interpretation.
It wasn’t blunt enough.
But going through, I don’t know, three-hundred songs, some of which I had never heard before, what struck me was that the topics were remarkably consistent.
The power of friendship, family, your own past.
Love for women, sex, and guitars.
There seemed to be multiple affairs that had made it to paper, because they had left Jon feeling shaken and confused.
Record after record, from songs like Wanted Dead or Alive to The Scars on My Guitar, there is a terrible amount of love and vulnerability going on.
And what happens when someone shows you their heart?
You show them yours.
In hindsight my crush on Jon Bongiovi never had anything to do with his looks, and everything to do with what was underneath.
As must have been the case with my teenage courtship with his look-a-like.
I had been drawn to the deep waters of their minds, that’s what I had been staring at. Not at their striking features.
If there is anything I ve learned from this, it’s that there is no such thing as getting over someone.
No such thing as moving on.
Matters of the heart cannot be undone and their roots run a lot deeper than most of us are comfortable with.
Except maybe for Jon Bongiovi.
An unexamined life is not worth living
My video series My Life in Bon Jovi songs will be posted on my YouTube
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