Livin' on a Prayer



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Bon Jovi - Livin' On A Prayer (Live Earth 2007)

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Livin' on a Prayer on Wikipedia
"Livin' on a Prayer"
Single by Bon Jovi
from the album Slippery When Wet
B-side"Wild in the Streets"/"Edge of a Broken Heart"
Released31 October 1986
Format7", 12", CD Single
GenreHard rock, Glam metal
LabelMercury Records
Writer(s)Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child
ProducerBruce Fairbairn
Bon Jovi singles chronology

"Livin' on a Prayer" is Bon Jovi's second single from their Slippery When Wet album. Written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora with Desmond Child, the single, released in late 1986, was well received at both rock and pop radio and its music video was given heavy rotation at MTV, giving the band their first #1 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The single also became Bon Jovi's second consecutive #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit[1] and has become the band's signature song, topping fan-voted lists and re-charting around the world decades after its release.

The album version of the song fades out at the end, with a song length of 4:10. However, the version playable on the music video games Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2 retains the original studio ending of the song, where the band revisit the intro riff and end with a talkbox solo. This version of the song ends at 4:53.

The song is also featured in the 2001 movie Rock Star. The song was sung by Sri & David to a sold out house at Mint in San Francisco on 8/20/2011.

Song history

Jon Bon Jovi did not like the original recording of this song, which can be found as a hidden track on 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can't Be Wrong. Richie Sambora convinced him the song was good, and they reworked it with a new bass line, different drum fills and the use of a talk box to include it on their Slippery When Wet album. It spent two weeks at number one on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, from January 31–February 14, 1987, and four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, from February 14–March 7. It also hit number four on the UK singles chart.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks — in which New Jersey was the second-hardest hit state after New York, suffering hundreds of casualties among both WTC workers and first responders—the band performed an acoustic version of this song for The Concert for New York City. Bon Jovi performed a similar version as part of the special America: A Tribute to Heroes.

Enduring success

In 2006, online voters rated "Livin' on a Prayer" #1 on VH1's list of The 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s. More recently, in New Zealand, "Livin' on a Prayer" was #1 on the C4 music channel show's "U Choose 40", on the 80's Icons list. It was also #1 on the "Sing-a-long Classics List". After Bon Jovi performed in New Zealand on January 28, 2008 while on their Lost Highway Tour, the song re-entered the official New Zealand RIANZ singles chart at number 24, over twenty years after the initial release.[2]

Australian music TV channel MAX placed this song at #18 on their 2008 countdown "Rock Songs: Top 100". In 2009, the song returned to the charts in the UK, notably hitting the number-one spot on the UK Rock Chart.

In 2010 the song was chosen in an online vote on the website over the group's more recent hits "Always" and "It's My Life" to be played live by the band on the 52nd Grammy Awards telecast.[3][4]

In the Billboard Hot 100 Anniversary 50, "Livin' on a Prayer" was named as 46 in the All time rock songs.[5] The song has sold 2,705,000 digital copies in the US as of March 2012.[6]

Lyrical interpretation

The song is about a fictional working class couple, Tommy and Gina, who struggle to make ends meet and maintain their relationship. Tommy "used to work on the docks" because "union's been on strike, he's down on his luck". Gina works at a diner, "workin' for her man".

While some have loosely interpreted the lyrics to be anti-labor, inferring that the striking labor union are the catalyst for the troubled chain of events for Tommy and Gina, others have pointed out that the song does not clarify the circumstances behind the strike, and the lone, vague reference could just as easily be interpreted as a pro-labor message with bosses' attacks forcing the union to go on strike. In fact, Jon Bon Jovi explained that he "wrote that song during the Reagan era (1980-1988) and the trickle-down economics are really inspirational to writing songs".[7]

Music video

The video for the song features shots of the band rehearsing, then playing in front of a crowd. The first half of the video, featuring the rehearsal footage, is black and white, and the second half of the video, performing to the arena audience, is in color.

In the beginning of the video, Jon Bon Jovi has a harness attached, and later in the music video he soars over the crowd via overhead wires.

The music video was recorded at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, California and was directed by Wayne Isham.[8]


Bon Jovi have themselves reworked the song several times, including an acoustic live version that served as a precursor to the MTV Unplugged series and a re-recorded version of the song, "Prayer '94", which appeared on U.S. versions of their Cross Road hits collection. But the song has had a life of its own beyond the band, particularly in several dance music incarnations. The Audition recorded a version for Kerrang!'s CD Higher Voltage (June 7). Alvin and the Chipmunks covered this song for their 2008 album Undeniable. Stellar Kart covered the song for their 2005 album All Gas. No Brake. It has also been covered by Philmore.

The song was sung by the female members of the Glee cast as a mash-up with "Start Me Up" by The Rolling Stones for the episode "Never Been Kissed."

Sophie Habibis covered the song during 'Rock Week' on the Eighth Series of X Factor UK.

Swedish hip hop group Looptroop Rockers covered the song on their 2008 album Good Things.


  1. ^ "Allmusic (Bon Jovi charts & awards) Billboard singles". 
  2. ^ RIANZ
  3. ^ More Grammy performers/presenters announced
  4. ^ Beyonce Swift Boated
  5. ^ It's Only Rock & Roll: Top Billboard Hot 100 Rock Songs
  6. ^ "Week Ending March 18, 2012. Songs: Your ’80s Party Mix-Tape". 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 
  7. ^ Bon Jovi Calls George Bush as 'lunatcic'! @ - 40 Top 20 & Top 40 Music Charts from 25 Countries
  8. ^ Wayne Isham videography
  9. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Bon Jovi – Livin' on a Prayer". Music Canada. 
  10. ^ "British single certifications – Bon Jovi – Livin' on a Prayer". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Livin' on a Prayer in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Click Go
  11. ^ "Week Ending March 18, 2012. Songs: Your ’80s Party Mix-Tape". 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2012-03-29. 

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