Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer" is four minutes and twelve seconds of pure hard-rocking, dancefloor-filling fun. The song, a frequent winner in fan voting for "Best Song of the '80s," is perhaps most famous for its soaring chorus, which includes one of the most iconic key changes in all of rock n' roll. Nearly a quarter century after its original release, "Livin' On A Prayer" remains a huge fan favorite today. Don't believe us? Believe this guy!
About the Song
Jon Bon Jovi (vocals, guitar), Richie Sambora (guitar), Alex John Such (bass), Tico Torres (drums), David Bryan (keyboards)
Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Fans have been singing along ( at the top of their lungs, usually) to the story of hard-luck lovers Tommy and Gina ever since "Livin' On A Prayer" debuted in the mid-1980s. Many have called the song the rock anthem of the Reagan Era. But what does it mean? Is the parable of Tommy and Gina meant to be a piece of social criticism ("He's down on his luck, it's tough"), representing the ordinary working stiffs left behind by the era's booming economy on Wall Street? Or is the song an endorsement of President Reagan's ideology of optimistic individualism ("Take my hand, we'll make it I swear")? Both? Neither? Or is the story simply a modern-day fairytale, a hard-rocking take on a plot as old as The Odyssey and as fresh as Twilight; can true love conquer all obstacles?
On the Charts
"Livin' On A Prayer" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US in February 1987, and held the position for four weeks.
Slippery When Wet, the 1986 album upon which "Livin' On A Prayer" appears, was Bon Jovi's best-selling album ever. More than 12 million copies were sold in the USA and 28 million worldwide; three singles from the album broke into the Top 10, with "You Give Love A Bad Name" joining "Livin' On A Prayer" in reaching #1. The album ultimately spent 94 weeks on the Billboard charts.
In 2006, VH1 named the song #1 on its list of "The 100 Greatest Songs of the '80s".