My obsessive use of irony makes me feel like a big man

by Sam Means | 11/1/00 6:00am

I think I speak for all Americans when I say that I really identify with "It's My Life," the new-ish Bon Jovi song. Sure, the heavy guitar represents a drastic departure from their folk-rock roots, but I think it's impressive that an old, obviously gay man like Jon Bon Jovi can keep up with these "hard rock" times. But that's not the only thing I love about this song. Far from it.

"My heart is like an open highway." Who wrote that, you ask? William Shakespeare? W.B. Yeats? Des'ree? Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's a line from the chorus of "It's My Life." Surprised? I sure was.

I fell in love with the song right away (I do have a pulse for God's sake), but it wasn't until the third or fourth listen that I started paying attention to what Jon was actually saying. You can see the influence that Horace has on the band ("It's now or never I just want to live while I'm alive.") Jon has obviously been reading his "Odes" for some time, judging by the lyrics to the earlier song, "Sleep While I'm Dead," in which he sung the line, "I'm going to live while I'm alive." Powerful words from a very attractive man with beautiful hair.

I think we could all do ourselves a favor if we paid attention to Bon Jovi's message in this song. "It's now or never," indeed. Why are we wasting our lives in meaningless jobs, writing papers and scrambling for letters on a page, "draw[ing] conclusions on the wall?" We should be doing what we want! Go f-- yourself with your atom bomb, Joseph P. Establishment!

And that "do what you feel" feeling isn't all there is -- that would be irresponsible. In fact, Jon Bon Jovi is telling us to "take control." "It's my life," after all. You can't fence me in with your rules and your grades and your Archie comics. I'll think what I want to think and say what I want to say without any input from you, Mr. Man.

Bon Jovi has always been anti-establishment. Ever since "Slippery When Wet," Jon and Richie (Sambora) have been fighting for the working class, respecting their right to block traffic in a crowded tunnel in order to hear some kick-ass tunes. Woo!

My ceaseless flogging of almost entirely floating-signifier crypto-ironic references and over-analysis of everyday events and pop culture make me feel like I'm better than you. Get it? I'm obviously smarter than you, seeing how much knowledge I have about sort-of-obscure '80s cartoons. Do you know all the words to "Vacation," by the Go-Go's? Didn't think so. I sure as hell do.

I could not possibly enjoy a Bon Jovi song because I am obviously far too knowledgeable to do so. The only way I could listen to a popular song is if it were ironic. Like "Funk Dat," by Sagat. I love that song. Or do I? Excuse me while I go listen to my old "Irwin: The Disco Duck" LPs.

Needless to say, "It's My Life" has been getting heavy airplay on VH1. Let me be the first to say: "Thank God." I come home every day and listen to "Never Let You Go" and the new Bon Jovi album at least ten times just to unwind from a stressful day. It's sad that there are so few artists that speak to my heart as much as Bon Jovi does. When Sugar Ray writes a song like "I'm Richer Than You and I Look Good With My Shirt Off," it doesn't leave me with that warm, empowered feeling that "It's My Life" does.

Rock on, Jon. Rock on, Richie. Your heart is like an open highway -- straight to mine.