Monday, October 04, 2010

About Bad Medicine...

From The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits, 5th Edition, published 2003.

Bad Medicine

Writers: Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Desmond Child
Producer: Bruce Fairbairn
November 19, 1988
Weeks at Number 1: 2

The Top Five - Week of November 19, 1988
1. Bad Medicine - Bon Jovi
2. Wild, Wild West - The Escape Club
3. The Loco-Motion - Kylie Minogue
4. Desire - U2
5. Kokomo - Beach Boys

"I have this vision of taking Bon Jovi from the Beatles innocence of 'Yeah, yeah, yeah' to, like, Sgt. Pepper," Jon Bon Jovi told Lonn M. Friend in RIP. "That's where I am. When we did 'Bad Name' and 'Prayer' and 'Wanted,' it was great. It was wonderful. It's time now to move on, to create again. That's where I'm going. I want to think that's where the band's going, too."

After selling 13.5 million copies of Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi returned to Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, British Columbia, to record their fourth album, New Jersey. Bruce Fairbairn was sitting in the producer's chair again, and Jon and Richie Sambora collaborated once more with Desmond Child, the songwriter who worked with them on their first two number one hits, "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' on a Prayer".

"There was quite a bit of pressure on the band in terms of...trying to get the best songs possible," says Fairbairn. "When we made Slippery, it was a band struggling to make it from New Jersey, and there was that uneasiness about whether they're going to make it or not. Coming into New Jersey, they had a lot of confidence behind them, they were playing really well, and they were comfortable up at the studio in Vancouver. Everybody was still high from Slippery, and we had a lot of fun going into it."

Desmond Child was happy to be working with the band again. "We had common influences and references, so it was easy to agree on what we liked," he says. "And each person brought their own unique skill and sensibility to it. It was like a magic combination - a lot of elements, not just me and Jon and Richie, but working with Bruce Fairbairn, and Bob Rock as the engineer."

Child found working on New Jersey a different experience than his first collaboration with Bon Jovi. "The first record was wonderful, because there was nowhere to go but up. Everyone was so fresh, they were innocent and so young. When I got together with them again for New Jersey, I was dealing with a whole other set of men. They really had matured, and also felt very pressured to beat the success they had last time. So it made the creative process much more difficult."

It was unusual for a group like Bon Jovi to be using an outside writer, according to Child. "It hadn't been common practice for rock bands to use outside writers, and they had gotten a lot of heat for doing so. But when I write with them, I think of myself as being in the band, and they think that way also. For New Jersey, they wrote for months without me; I think they felt like they had to prove they could do it on their own. They did have a number one song out of it without my influence - I'll Be There For You, so it's not like they can't. But it's just much easier when we write together, and I do think I bring something to the party."

Desmond came in at the last minute to work on New Jersey, and the band had already written a first draft of "Bad Medicine". "It was that one thing over and over again, and I came in and wrote that 'B' section that kind of lifted it. It was like a deceptive modulation. It sort of modulated down, then it modulated back up to the regular key, and it sounded like you went somewhere when you actually didn't. But it was one of those things where my fresh take on it helped the song move to another level."

Fairbairn remembers hearing the song for the first time when he was visiting Sambora's new home in New Jersey. "We were sitting around after dinner with a glass of wine and he played me 'Bad Medicine' on the acoustic and he said, 'Bruce, this is going to be a big song - I know it.' The chorus sounded great, and the verses were a little sketchy at that point. Sure enough, it came along when we started working the song up. When we recorded it, we had a really good feeling it was going to be a great song."

Next time - I'll Be There For You.


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