What does Wanted (Dead or Alive) mean?

Bon Jovi: Wanted (Dead or Alive) Meaning

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Album cover for Wanted (Dead or Alive) album cover

Wanted (Dead or Alive) Lyrics

It’s all the same, only the names will change
Everyday it seems we’re wasting away
Another place where the faces are so cold
I’d drive all night just to get back home

I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted dead or...


    #1 top rated interpretation:
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    Aug 30th 2008 !⃝

    This song is all about life as a touring rock band, the whole "cowboy" theme is just a metaphor, Jon Bon Jovi has always been a fan of the old western heroes, and was able to see a link between his life as a rock star, and the cowboy's life he was so inspired by.


    #2 top rated interpretation:
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    Nov 13th 2007 !⃝

    You've got it so wrong- remember after new jersey how the band nearly split up- they had nothing more to say to each other after all those packed in tour buses and living out of each other's pockets- well jon said that was what the song was about and the first persons "steel horse" metaphor is right jon said it himself- and wanted dead or alive comes into it because jon said that in the time of slippery when wet and new jersey he literally felt he was wanted dead or alive- that he was killing himself touring at the pace they where- that people- fans, critics, producers- didn't care as long as they got their show


    #3 top rated interpretation:
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    Dec 6th 2010 !⃝

    The "Steele Horse" is the motorbike....

    It's the likening of the modern day outlaw bikie to the outlaw cowboys of old....

    A legendary rock anthem!

  4. anonymous
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    May 21st 2017 !⃝

    A Lonely person who thinks the world of himself. But when the world goes against him he realizes that he is not the person he thinks he is and that he is a lone wolf that has no more meaning to life but he realizes that he no longer has the life that he had thought to be everything

  5. anonymous
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    Jul 14th 2012 !⃝

    Sheriff hes saying hes a sheriff. Could go both ways though too

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  6. anonymous
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    Mar 1st 2012 !⃝

    steel horse is and will always be a MOTORBIKE,,,sorry bon jovi....a BUS IS A BUS

  7. anonymous
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    Oct 4th 2010 !⃝

    He is riding a motorcycle, not a car.

  8. anonymous
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    Sep 16th 2010 !⃝

    I think this song is about a cowboy who is being hunted for some kind of crime

  9. songinterpreter95
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    May 9th 2009 !⃝

    My thought is that he is a convict wanted dead or alive, hence the name. And his steel horse is his runaway car.

  10. anonymous
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    May 6th 2008 !⃝

    He rides into towns where there are posters of guys wanted dead or alive. He becomes one of them so he gets his gun and horse and leaves

  11. Jag528cbr
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    Jan 24th 2008 !⃝

    I think 'steel horse' is referring to a motorcycle. Like an outlaw biker or something.

  12. anonymous
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    Sep 14th 2007 !⃝

    OK, this interpretation was most probably not intentional by Bon Jovie, but was something that came from my own musings.
    It seems to me that almost all the lines could be connected to being a christian.

    let me explain;

    "Its all the same, only the names will change
    Everyday it seems were wasting away"

    Everyday, I see less and less christians standing up for what they believe in (at least on the internet)the same opposition to our ideals will always be there- and get stronger. only the names of the people will change.

    "Another place where the faces are so cold
    I'd drive all night just to get back home"

    standing up for something different means the people who oppose you in beliefs will most likely act coldly. Seeing reactions like that probably would make a person want to take long measures to get back where they came from

    "I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride"

    cowboys (in movies and such)are often worn out and still trying to fight against their opposition. This relates directly to christians. "steel horse" may be a metaphor for having a stronger foundation for faith than others who have "regular horses", or looser morals and convictions.

    I'm wanted dead or alive"

    "dead" being shut up, and "alive" being accepted.

    "Sometimes I sleep, sometimes its not for days"

    losing sleep over lost souls.

    "The people I meet always go their separate ways"

    either becoming interested, ignoring you, or arguing against you, people choose a path and leave in "seperate ways".

    "Sometimes you tell the day
    By the bottle that you drink"

    no interpretation for this line, really.

    "sometimes you're alone all you do is think"

    continual self-observation can lead to doubt.

    "I walk these streets, a loaded six string on my back-
    I play for keeps, cause I might not make it back"

    no interpretation here, either

    "I've been everywhere, still I'm standing tall"

    I've seen a lot of things, been a lot of places, met a lot of people, but I keep on "standing tall" for the lord.

    I've seen a million faces an I've rocked them all

    I've known tons of people, but I'm sure I've influenced most of them in one way or the other.

    well, that's my interpretation. It might sound stupid, but I thought there was something to it. oh, well.

    please no flaming...

  13. anonymous
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    Jul 3rd 2007 !⃝

    This is song is simply reflection on fame and touring. He's saying that touring certainly comes along with its stresses and drawbacks. The main drawback, other than exhaustion, is clearly the inability to form relationships with hardly anyone he meets who idolize him because of how short-term playing a show is.

    The lyric that expresses both of the these stresses the most would be "Sometimes I sleep, sometimes its not for days / And the people I meet always go their separate ways."

    In the end it's what he does best and enjoys most. It becomes clear that when all is said and done, it's worth it.
    "I been everywhere, still I'm standing tall"
    "I've seen a million faces and I've rocked them all"

    And yeah...the steel horse is the tour bus.

  14. anonymous
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    Feb 23rd 2007 !⃝

    when I listen to this song I pick up some strong references to touring, and the relentless pressure on the artist to perform. When he says... "I'm a cowboy.. on a steel horse I ride" I definitely think horse translates to bus, and cowboy translates to badass. The song to me seems to have been written with somewhat mixed feelings. It seems to radiate confidence, possibly born from the constant praise, and the willingness of the fans to do anything for these musicians who are speaking to their souls. Maybe even Arrogance which could come from having young men and women confess a willingness to do anything to gain approval or even any sort of attention from the band. I think as the song progresses though, the artist tries to portray to the listener a picture painted from his perspective... That being: a few regular guys who have been lifted to fame and placed on a stage as if they were slaves working merely for the pleasure of others. "I'm wanted dead or alive" for me seems to be an attempt at revealing just how taxing being on the road can be. Who knows how these artists are feeling when they get on stage? (tired, stoned, drunk, depressed, DEAD, or ALIVE). Regardless of which state they find themselves in; they are there, and I think this song deals with the inability of the fans to understand that.

  15. anonymous
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    Oct 18th 2006 !⃝

    Much more simple than all of that guff. It is an image thing and he is comparing himself as a outlaw biker (wanna-be) to the outlaws of old. Hence the 'steel horse'. Can't you just see it - John on a chopper with a cowboy hat, leather pants and an acoustic guitar. It is just how he sees himself. Pretty deep eh! Nice song ;)

  16. abz
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    Apr 24th 2006 !⃝

    This song is one of those old classic rock n roll songs about wanting to be a cowboy! In this song he's a lone ranger running from trouble on a 'steel' horse. He refers to his horse as being steel because it must be , both pysically and mentally strong and determined in order to keep going, carrying this cowboy to safety in search of some place better.

    He meets new people, as we all do, but in his world they leave and go their seperate ways, he has no reason to keep track of time and days, and not much to live for.

    Although he's alone and on the run, he's still happy to be alive as he's lost in thoughts about memories of better days. He's stuck through hard times, knowing each day could just easily be his last, he's still standing tall.

  17. anonymous
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    Mar 24th 2006 !⃝

    Wanted dead or alive goes along with the metaphore of being a cowboy, the fans want him "dead or alive."

  18. anonymous
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    Feb 12th 2006 !⃝

    Assuming you believe that first explanation, then it would be a reference to how obsessive people are over musicians.

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