“Livin’ On A Prayer”

“Livin’ On A Prayer”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Richie Sambora
“Livin’ On A Prayer”

Written by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child
Recorded by Bon Jovi

The essence of this song comes from my mom and dad. Even though we were living through a different age and referring to a specific time and place (1986) when we wrote it, the lyric still speaks to what’s happening in people’s lives and in the world today.

This marked the first time Jon (Bon Jovi) and I made up characters for a song. The storyline is about working class families, much like Jon and mine as we were growing up. We were lower middle class kids in suburban New Jersey. We respect our parents and our roots so it was natural to write a song about how we grew up. In a way, the characters represented our parents and their eternal hope and optimism — “We’ve got a prayer.” That’s my specialty — I’m a very spiritual person. I’m grateful that we’ve gotten this far. I’m a guy who grew up on a dead-end street next to a swamp… and I literally climbed out of it. It’s 25 years later and Jon and I were just inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

The song is also about survival — about the struggle of a normal blue collar family. They look at each other at the end of the day and say, “We did it.”

The message is very simple — if you love each other, care about each other, and support each other, that’s it, that’s all that matters. At the end of the day, in a relationship, whether it’s a marriage or a life situation, you’re living on a prayer. It may not be the best life imaginable to others but it is one with which you’re content. That’s what makes the song so important. It’s about an atypical relationship where people stick together no matter what. That, unfortunately, doesn’t happen to most people these days.

We’d written lots of songs, many sentimental, but at that time it was unusual for two young guys to write about these kinds of real life situations, especially when you consider some of the other songs (“Thriller”) that were topping the charts when “Prayer” came out.

When Jon and I write, it always begins through a conversation we’re having. We talk about what’s going on in our personal lives and out in the world and we use that as the basis for our ideas. “Livin’ On A Prayer” was one of the songs we wrote through this process, hoping to change the world.

Human nature remains the same throughout time and will be what it’s going to be. The message of “Livin’ On A Prayer” still resonates today and I’m very proud of that. Songwriters are like mirrors of humanity. A songwriter wants to write songs which transcend time. We’ve been blessed with an amazing career and life, and these songs will live on long after we’re gone.

“Livin’ On A Prayer”

Once upon a time

Not so long ago

Tommy used to work on the docks

Unions 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 got to hold on to what we’ve got

’Cause 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.

Whooah, were halfway there

Livin’ on a prayer

Take my hand and well make it — I swear

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 got to hold on to what we’ve got

’Cause 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.

Whooah, we’re halfway there

Livin’ on a prayer,

Take my hand and we’ll make it — I swear

Livin’ on a prayer.

We’ve got to hold on ready or not

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

Whooah, we’re halfway there

Livin’ on a prayer,

Take my hand and we’ll make it — I swear

Livin’ on a prayer.

Words and Music by Jon Bon Jovi, Desmond Child and Richie Sambora. © 1986 UNIVERSAL - POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING, INC., BON JOVI PUBLISHING and AGGRESSIVE MUSIC. All Rights for BON JOVI PUBLISHING Controlled and Administered by UNIVERSAL - POLYGRAM INTERNATIONAL PUBLISHING, INC. All Rights for AGGRESSIVE MUSIC Administered by SONY/ATV MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

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