In 2006, one of New Jersey’s leading rock bands, Bon Jovi, hit No. 1 on Billboard magazine’s country chart with “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” There were actually two versions of the song — one with just the band, and one that was a duet with Jennifer Nettles of the duo Sugarland — and it was the Nettles version that topped the country charts.
In the song, Sayreville native Jon Bon Jovi, who has always maintained a strong connection to his home state, sings about “trying to get out” of his hometown but realizing “there’s only one place they call me one of their own” and “there’s only one place left I want to go.” Footage in the video, below, reflects the work he has done for Habitat for Humanity in New Jersey, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
The song, from the 2005 Bon Jovi album Have a Nice Day, was also a Top 40 pop hit and, in 2007, it was given a Grammy in the Country Collaboration with Vocals category.
In 2008, the band objected to the use of the song in vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s campaign, saying, in a statement, “we do not approve of their use of (the song). We wrote this song as a thank you to those who have supported us over the past 25 years. The song has since become a banner for our home state of New Jersey and the de facto theme song for our partnerships around the country to build homes and rebuild communities.”
Though an ardent democrat, Jon Bon Jovi has given Gov. Christie permission to use this and other songs at his campaign events.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday last year. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we are marking the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, for almost a year — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. We started in September 2014, and will keep going until late in the summer.
If you would like to suggest any songs to be included, please let me know in the comments section underneath the video. And if you want to see the entire list, either alphabetically or in the order the songs were selected, click here.