In mid-2001, Bon Jovi appeared to be on the verge of cracking a new layer of the rocky stratosphere.
The New Jersey quintet had made a successful comeback with the 2000s To crusha double-platinum hit in the US after relatively lackluster performances in 1995 These days. This was largely thanks to the hit single “It’s My Life”, co-written by Swedish pop savant Max Martin (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, NSYNC). The song became a worldwide Top 10 hit and peaked at number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100, endearing Bon Jovi to a new generation of listeners. It all culminated in a successful world tour, culminating in two sold-out shows at Giants Stadium in their home country.
Some expected the group to carry the success of To crush in the studio as work began on his eighth album. But then 9/11 happened, forever changing the trajectory of the band’s upcoming project.
“How can you not have a creative period with all this emotional stuff going on?” guitarist Richie Sambora told MTV during the 2001 concert in New York. “If you’re a writer, you take it all in. Music is a mirror of what times are like. You take things and they come out.
“As writers, I think we’d be remiss not to write about what happened in our own backyards,” frontman Jon Bon Jovi explained during an appearance on Today. “We ran the gamut of emotions from sadness, pain and anger until we had to find something that would ring true for us not just today, which is a year later, but in time to come, and so we were writing songs about that resilience.
Listen to ‘Undivided’ by Bon Jovi
Although the band started writing Bounce prior to 9/11, the tragedy had a huge impact on the material eventually released on the album.
“The name pretty much personifies what this country is going through,” Bon Jovi explained, noting that Bounce was about America’s ability to bounce back. “We really like to write upbeat, upbeat, kind of songs that push you by the boots.”
“I think the upbeat songs will live on,” Sambora added, “where I think the sad songs will kind of paint a picture in time.”
Released on October 8, 2002, Bounce debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 – Bon Jovi’s highest debut at that time. The influence of the September 11 attacks on the album is immediately apparent in the opening lyrics of the first track, “Undivided”. As Bon Jovi sings “It was my brother lost in the rubble/It was my sister lost in the crush/It was our mothers, it was our children/It was our fathers, it was each one of us” a vivid picture of the attacks is presented as he pleads for the country to heal together.
Listen to Bon Jovi’s “Everyday”
The second track, “Everyday”, sees Bon Jovi continue this theme, singing, “Strange, everyone feels strange/Never will be the same/Makes you wonder how the world keeps spinning.”
Despite the obvious 9/11 influence, Bon Jovi didn’t want to do all the songs about the terrorist attack. “At the end of the day, we didn’t want to do a 9/11 album,” the singer admitted during an appearance on Living with Regis and Kelly. “There were 364 other days in the year. But obviously we would be remiss not to write about our community being the hardest hit of all in Jersey.”
Bounce received mixed reviews and failed to live up to the commercial success of To crush. Still, it remains an important album for the band; a sanguine time capsule steeped in the emotional attitude of the post-9/11 world.
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