Forget Valentine’s Day…except when it’s good for traffic! Back in my single days I used to call it “Bon Jovi Day” and listen to nothing but Jon & Richie. Here’s some Bon Jovi for you!
There was an unprecedented five year interregnum between These Days and Crush. This pause allowed Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora to get some solo albums out of their systems before the band re-convened. In the buildup to the new album, Bon Jovi contributed a new single called “Real Life” to the movie EdTV. Remember EdTV? There were two movies out at the same time about a guy who had his whole life broadcast on television 24/7. One, The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey, was a huge hit. The other, Ron Howard’s EdTV starring Matthew McConaughey, was the also-ran. EdTV might have been more interesting, but bombed. This rendered the Bon Jovi single relatively obscure. It’s not the first time a Bon Jovi movie track misfired. Remember “Good Guys Don’t Always Wear White”?
“Real Life” was a decent tune, but it was a ballad at a time when Bon Jovi already had plenty. There’s little to draw your attention, aside from Richie Sambora’s always alluring guitar and vocals. The watery guitar tone is not far removed from These Days, but that album boasted the kind of ballads you’d never forget. Songs like “Something to Believe In”, “These Days”, and “(It’s Hard) Letting You Go” are the kind of songs you carry your whole life. “Real Life” is not. In the wake of These Days, it was just another ballad.
This commercial single has two versions of “Real Life”, but there are actually four versions out there! For the “album version”, if you don’t want the EdTV soundtrack, look for a promo single instead. The differences between the album version and the radio mix are slight, but the album version has more guitar where the single mix has more piano. The third version is an instrumental mix, which is nice if you want to listen to Richie’s guitar a little more. The fourth and final version is an alternate mix that can be found on the box set 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong.
Finally, a live recording of “Keep the Faith” rounds out the single. It seems to be a standby live B-side for this band. They used another version on the 2013 single for “Because We Can“. It’s certainly one of their most accomplished songs. The bass groove and Tico’s busy drum patterns keep your feet moving. It’s noncommercial and it strives to be something bigger. It might be, in a technical sense, Bon Jovi’s most unapologetic and best hit.
Interestingly enough, “Real Life” is the only Bon Jovi video without David Bryan who was away on an injury. I don’t think he missed out on much.