In an interview with Mavericks With Ari Melber, Jon Bon Jovi answered questions about Bon Jovi’s latest release ‘2020,’ and shared how he felt writing a song dedicated to the victim of police brutality, George Floyd.
As you may remember, a 46-year-old African American man, George Floyd, was killed by a police officer from Minneapolis Police Department on May 25, 2020. Floyd’s death led to various demonstrations across the United States to protest police violence and racial discrimination. Many artists and celebrities showed their support for the protests either by writing open letters on social media or expressing their feelings through their art.
Bon Jovi founder Jon Bon Jovi was also among these artists who preferred to show their reaction to the tragic death of Floyd through their art. Bon Jovi released their 15th studio album titled ‘2020’ on October 2, 2020. Back in 2019, the band released the debut single of their new album which was named ‘Unbroken.’
During the quarantine period due to the coronavirus pandemic, Jon Bon Jovi added two more songs to the album both of which were inspired by the social and political developments within 2020. One of Jon’s songs, titled ‘Do What You Can,’ is about the worldwide struggle with the Covid-19 pandemic, while the other one, named ‘American Reckoning,’ is dedicated to the death of George Floyd.
In a recent interview, Jon Bon Jovi opened up about his decision to make a song about the tragedy of George Floyd. During the conversation, the iconic musician stated that he had to take a position on their latest record as a ‘witness to history.’ He also mentioned that he has worked really hard on the song since he wanted to make it right while paying respects to anyone who witnessed history just like he did.
Here is what Jon Bon Jovi stated about his decision to write a song addressing George Floyd:
“I had to take a position on this record. I wanted it to be that I was in your shoes or anyone else who is reporting news, so in essence, I said to myself, ‘I am a witness to history.’
And much like anyone else who had the opportunity to watch the television or read the newspaper, we were all witness to history. In the case of the death of George Floyd, there I was, the audience watching the television, and I was so taken by the moment and the graphic nature of the moment, both visually and the audio recordings.
And I watched as a police officer pushed back a kid in the crowd, I watched as the time went by and the reporter said, ‘These minutes are very graphic. If it’s too much for you, please turn away.’
So there I was, witness to history, and the best way for me to express what I saw was through the songs, and ‘American Reckoning’ took shape. I had to be very careful with that song and to get it right.
I wrote it. I re-wrote it. I played it for a variety of people, people in the African-American community, people in my band, people in my family, other influential songwriters and made sure to get it right because I wanted to pay respects to anyone who also witnessed that history.”
Additionally, Bon Jovi talked about how his eyes welled up with tears when he watched Floyd’s family and friends bid him farewell with their open letters saying what a great person he was. He stated that he had to re-write the chorus and decided the take the ‘American reckoning’ line from the verse and made it the title of the song. Jon also pointed out the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement which really taken hold around the globe.
Bon Jovi also recalled how he felt while watching his friends and family bid farewell to Floyd:
“I watched as his friend, the basketball player was recounting that with his last words he was calling to his mom, and my eyes just welled up with tears. And it was that morning, I just turned around – this is a day or two later, and I went to my office and closed the door. I just started writing. The first iteration I played for my wife, and she said, ‘Yeah – the verse is great, the chorus isn’t great.’
And I re-wrote the chorus, and then when I thought I got it right, I went to the studio, and even in the studio my drummer turned to me and he says, ‘It’s not right.’ And that’s when ‘American reckoning’ went from being a line in the verse to being the title of the song, and that’s when I knew I finally got it absolutely right.
When you’re a songwriter, you can rhyme Moon, June, and spoon, you can have light, easy moments about nothing and make people happy and make them dance.
When you’re a witness to history and you’re talking about something that happened in the day and age in which you live, you better get it right. It is America’s reckoning, this time with the Black Lives Matter movement it’s really taken hold around the globe. You saw the reaction in the streets worldwide.”