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Livin on a prayer
Song

Livin on a prayer

Bon Jovi
Album:
Slippery When Wet

Song Meaning and Background of Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi


Bon Jovi focuses on working-class heroes with “Livin’ on a Prayer,” co-written with guitarist Richie Sambora, telling the everyday struggles of Tommy and Gina with guitar-pick slides, dramatic pauses, the inevitable key change and continues to resonate today.


It’s great that we wrote songs so long ago that people can still relate to,” Bon Jovi said in 2005.


“When I hear ‘Livin’ on a Prayer,’ I think to myself, ‘We wrote that. That song has really made its mark. I guess that works.'”


"Livin' on a Prayer" is a song by the American rock band Bon Jovi, and is the band's second chart-topping single from their third album Slippery When Wet.


"Livin' on a Prayer" is the band's signature song, topping fan-voted lists and re-charting around the world decades after its release.


Jon Bon Jovi did not like the original recording of this song, Lead guitarist Richie Sambora, however, convinced him the song was good, and they reworked it with a new bassline, different drum fills and the use of a talk box.


The song spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and also hit number four on the UK Singles Chart in 1986.


The song describes two characters, Tommy and Gina, a working-class couple who struggle to make ends meet.


Tommy loses his job as a dockworker due to a strike while Gina works as a diner waitress.


The storyline was loosely based on real-life events that Jon Bon Jovi and songwriter Desmond Child experienced in the 1970s.


Before becoming successful artists and songwriters, Desmond Child and his then-girlfriend, singer-songwriter Maria Vidal, lived together.


They had already begun their music careers, but worked day jobs; Child was a taxi driver in New York while Vidal worked as a waitress in a diner named "Once Upon A Stove", similar to Gina in the song.

The owner, manager, and other employees of the diner nicknamed Vidal "Gina" due to her slight physical resemblance to Italian actress and photographer Gina Lollobrigida.


"It deals with the way that two kids – Tommy and Gina – face life's struggles," noted Bon Jovi,

"and how their love and ambitions get them through the hard times. It's working class and it's real… I wanted to incorporate the movie element, and tell a story about people I knew. So instead of doing what I did on 'Runaway', where the girl didn't have a name, I gave them names, which gave them an identity... Tommy and Gina aren't two specific people; they represent a lifestyle."


In a 2002 interview, Bon Jovi said that he wrote the song as a response to the Reagan Era, adding, "trickle-down economics are really inspirational to writing songs".


Lyrics of Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi


Once upon a time not so long ago

 

Tommy used to work on the docks

Union's been on strike

He's down on his luck

It's tough, so tough

 

Gina works the diner all day

Working for her man

She brings home her pay

For love, for love

 

She says, "We've gotta hold on to what we've got

It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not

We've got each other and that's a lot

For love we'll give it a shot."

 

Whoa, we're half-way there

Whoa, livin' on a prayer

Take my hand, we'll make it. I swear

Whoa, livin' on a prayer

 

Tommy's got his six string in hock

Now he's holding in

What he used to make it talk

So tough, it's tough

 

Gina dreams of running away

When she cries in the night

Tommy whispers

"Baby, it's okay, someday

 

We've gotta hold on to what we've got

It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not

We've got each other and that's a lot

For love we'll give it a shot

 

Whoa, we're half-way there

Whoa, livin' on a prayer

Take my hand and we'll make it. I swear

Whoa, livin' on a prayer

 

Livin' on a prayer

 

We've gotta hold on ready or not

You live for the fight when it's all that you've got

 

Whoa, we're half-way there

Whoa, livin' on a prayer

Take my hand and we'll make it, I swear

Whoa, livin' on a prayer

 

Whoa, we're half-way there

Whoa, livin' on a prayer

Take my hand and we'll make it, I swear

Whoa, livin' on a prayer

Release Date

1986

Songwriter/s

Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Desmond Child

Producer/s

Bruce Fairbaim

Label/s

Mercury

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