My Sunday Song – “Wanted Dead or Alive”

For My Sunday Song # 199, we are going to discuss one of Bon Jovi’s most popular and famous songs, “Wanted Dead or Alive” off the band’s 1986 album ‘Slippery When Wet’.  The song was the third single from this album and the third to crack the Billboard Hot 100 reaching #7.  The band was on a roll and growing to become one of the world’s biggest rock bands thanks in large part to his song.

The song’s title was inspired by old western movies and Jon thought the lifestyle of a band was similar to that of the outlaws in those movies.  Instead of horses, the band takes the tour bus (which is sort of a large steel horse) from town to town and raping and pillaging in each town…okay not really, but they were getting all the chicks and making tons of money performing, just not stealing it.

That whole cowboy vibe is felt in the music using acoustic guitars as well as electric.  There was a western sound with a hard rock edge and when they do play this as full acoustic, it is drenched in that sitting around the campfire feel telling stories of the road (or old west).  Richie Sambora’s guitar playing on this song spectacular and his background vocals mixed with Jon’s vocals takes this song to the next level.  And Richie’s solo is one of the most memorable he has done and how well it fits in with vibe of the song is magical.  Musically, according to Jon Bon Jovi, the song is inspired by Bob Seger’s song “Turn the Page” and if you listen to the song you hear that the slow driving tempo and groove and seriousness of the song and you can see why it was so inspiring.

When the band played this song in full acoustic on MTV, it is believed that it was a big inspiration to MTV doing the Unplugged series.  I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that MTV acoustic version is one of my favorite versions of this song.

What the song also had was a fantastic black & white video that went with it which was directed by Wayne Isham.  Being shot in Black & White was to give that old feel of being back in the Old West since they wouldn’t have had color back then.  The concert footage showed how hard the life on the road could be and showed how much energy these guys put in to their music and it worked beautifully as it was in constant rotation on MTV.

Check out the video and let me know what you think.  Is it one of their best songs?  Or why not?  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Thanks for stopping by and have a Happy Sunday!!

“Wanted Dead Or Alive”

It’s all the same, only the names will change
Every day it seems we’re wasting away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I’d drive all night just to get back home

I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted dead or alive
Wanted dead or alive

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it’s not for days
And the people I meet always go their separate ways
Sometimes you tell the day
By the bottle that you drink
And times when you’re alone all you do is think

I’m a cowboy
On a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted, wanted, dead or alive
Wanted (wanted) dead or alive

Oh and I ride!

I’m a cowboy
On a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted (wanted) dead or alive

And I walk these streets, a loaded six-string on my back
I play for keeps, ’cause I might not make it back
I’ve been everywhere, and still I’m standing tall
I’ve seen a million faces and I’ve rocked them all

‘Cause I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted dead or alive
‘Cause I’m a cowboy, I got the night on my side
I’m wanted dead or alive
And I ride dead or alive
I still drive, dead or alive
Dead or alive
Dead or alive
Dead or alive
Dead or alive

Written by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora

13 thoughts on “My Sunday Song – “Wanted Dead or Alive”

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