Bon Jovi Hitmaker Desmond Child To Host Songwriting Fantasy Camp
With five number one hits in five decades, songwriter Desmond Child has written the jukebox to your life,
With songs for Bon Jovi (“Livin’ On a Prayer,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Bad Medicine”), Aerosmith (“Dude Looks Like a Lady,” “What it Takes”) ,” KISS (“I Was Made For Lovin’ You”), Michael Bolton (“How Can We Be Lovers If We Can’t Be Friends”), Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, (“I Hate Myself For Loving You), Ricky Martin ( “Livin’ La Vida Loca,” “The Cup Of Life”), Katy Perry, (“Waking Up In Vegas”) and many more., Child still marvels at his streak of number one consecutive hits (“not too many people live that long,” he laughs) as well as the people he worked with.
“When you write a song together, the bond is like falling in love,” he said. “You never fall out of love. You are always connected in a very deep way.”
With two years into the pandemic, Child is ready to “burst out and join the world again” with his latest project: Desmond Child & Friends Songwriting Fantasy Camp taking place April 7 and run through April 10 at the Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The camp, a fantasy experience for aspiring songwriters in collaboration with Sixthman, will give attendees the chance to learn in songwriting workshops from hitmakers Emmylou Harris, John Hiatt, Marti Frederiksen, Felix Cavaliere, Steve Cropper and Damon Johnson, among others.
“I had done one online last year and it was very successful,” he said. “There will be all different kinds of things, small groups with us individually, discussion groups, all of these different combinations. I am up for everything. and anything people want to know I will give away all of my secrets.”
What is the secret sauce to a hit song? Child says a song “is not a hit until it’s a hit.”
Take “Livin’ on a Prayer” for instance. The protagonists of that song almost wasn’t Tommy and Gina, he said.
“John had said I want to write a working class story about a couple that’s struggling to make ends meet.,” Child said. “He had friends in high school- Bonnie and Joe-and Richie (Sambora) always says his inspiration was his parents. For me, I had a girlfriend before I realized I was more gay than bi. She worked a a diner and her waitress name was Gina. So that is where I came up with Gina. I said Johnny and Gina, and John said, ‘I can’t sing John. I’m Johnny, this isn’t about me.” I don’t know who said it, but Tommy. Tommy and Gina. And it just came to life-those two magic words together, telling their story. It’s a universal story of hope.”
“Bad Medicine” didn’t spring to life until Child suggested transposing the “B Section” of the song to the lyrics “that’s what you get for falling in love.”
“Those are the kinds of things you don’t know until you’re in the room,” he said.
With Aerosmith, Child was flown into Boston to hear a song the group was working on, which at the time was “Cruising for the ladies.”
“They stopped and said, ‘what do you think about that?’ I said ‘that’s really bad. I don’t think Van Halen would put that on the B side of their worst record,” said Child in a joking matter.
It was then that Steven Tyler admitted when he first started singing the riff, he said “Dude Looks Like a Lady.”
“But we don’t know what that means,” added Joe Perry.
Child knew exactly what to do with it.
“I talked them into telling the story of a regular gut that goes into a strip club and sees this gorgeous Venus on stage, goes backstage, and realizes she is a he,” he said. “The thing about the song, is he doesn’t run away. He stays.”
The song was a top 20 hit for the band, also reaching number 4 on the Mainstream rock charts.
Asked about writing “She Bangs,” Child admitted his favorite version of the song was by American Idol icon William Hung.
“It’s so bad it’s good,” he said. “It’s hilarious, I loved it. The thing to me is style is irreverent. It’s the story in the song. It’s the title, how it all pays off. That is how to write a hit song.”
In a wide ranging interview, Child talks about his songs, process and his feelings about who should win this year’s Academy Award for Best Song.
“Diane Warren,” he said of Warren, who wrote “Somehow You Do” for the film “Four Good Days.”
“The song she should have won for is “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” the song she wrote for Aerosmith,” he said.
He continued: “It’s her 13th nomination. Come on people. Give it to her.”
To register for Fantasy Camp, click here.