A Little Bit Country

For the last few months, there's been a buzz around Music Row that Bon Jovi's next album would be a country record. Some folks were skeptical and others ready to celebrate.

For the last few months, there's been a buzz around Music Row that Bon Jovi's next album would be a country record. Some folks were skeptical and others ready to celebrate. After all, Bon Jovi made history last year when "Who Says You Can't Go Home" with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles soared to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, making them the first non-country act to hit that summit in decades.

Will history repeat itself? The new single, "(You Want to) Make a Memory," which previews the Island/Mercury Nashville release "Lost Highway," debuted at No. 39 and was the Hot Shot Debut on Billboard's Hot Country Songs in the April 7 issue. Six of the tracks were produced by John Shanks, and six by Nashville's Dann Huff, known for his work with Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban. Bon Jovi also tapped further into the Nashville creative community, co-writing with Hillary Lindsey, Gordie Sampson and Brett James and recording duets with Big & Rich and LeAnn Rimes.

"The line is so blurred between new country and [adult top 40], it wasn't a difficult leap," Jon Bon Jovi says. "We had to just make sure we weren't patronizing the true country format. Could you have imagined me walking into an award show where 15 or 25 other artists are and saying, 'Howdy, y'all,' with straw in my teeth and a cowboy hat on? I would have expected them to run me out of Dodge."

Bon Jovi has been visiting Nashville regularly since in 1991 and says the city's creative community inspires him. "If you would have asked me at the end of the tour last August to do a record in September, I would have said, 'Not for all the tea in China. I don't have anything to say,'" he says. "I didn't like what I heard on the top 40. I had nothing in common with any of that stuff. But when I listened to Keith Urban, Gary Allen and Big & Rich, I heard the same kind of stories I'd been writing for 25 years. I thought, 'I get it: Write a record, go back to your storytelling days and say something about yourself.' "