Bon Jovi’s “American Reckoning” Lyrics Meaning

As has been pointed out on this platform before, mid-2020 has been a special moment in American history, one which many musicians themselves could not ignore. This is the result of the police murder of a subdued Blackman named George Floyd. Said brutal incident happened in May of that year and created massive, even international protests. Indeed this social movement has proven to be so huge that it has Bon Jovi wondering if it marks a period of “American reckoning”.  In other words, will the society henceforth forever be changed as a result? Will America finally have to confront its systemic, i.e. moral, shortcomings head-on? 

“Is our American reckoning?”

And amongst the White artists who have used this moment in time to confront such issues, Bon Jovi actually takes, let’s say a more-realistic approach than most. For instance, he acknowledges that, unlike Black parents, he’s not concerned about his children. He can sleep peacefully at night. And why? Because he knows that his White children aren’t potentially going to be profiled and murdered by the police. However, this sadly isn’t the case for the average Black parents.

George Floyd

And in the second verse he gives a more-detailed account of the murder of George Floyd than most Black musicians have. And ultimately, outside of recognizing that this may be a turning point in history, this song also acts in memoriam of Floyd. That is to say Bon Jovi wants his death to be remembered by all. The band hopes that by always remembering this, the criminal activity which took his life will have minimal chance of reoccurring.

Bon Jovi talks about “American Reckoning”

Jon Bon Jovi considers himself “a witness to history” . And this is in relation to the aforementioned protests which actually dominated headlines in the wake of Floyd’s murder. Moreover the entire situation has touched his heart personally. For instance, it has been noted that the words “Black Lives Matter” have been painted in front of his restaurant in New Jersey. And it should be noted that said establishment is actually a charity restaurant. And he feels that as an artist in general, he is ‘gifted’ with the ability to ‘use his voice to speak to issues that move him’.

Song’s Release Date

“American Reckoning” was released by Island Records as a standalone single on 10 July 2020. However, it is also slated to be featured on the band’s forthcoming album. Said album goes by the title “Bon Jovi 2020”. Moreover both Island Records and Bon Jovi have agreed to donate the proceeds from this song to an NGO. The NGO in question is called the Equal Justice Initiative. And the proceeds of this track will be donated to the NGO up until 2021.

Writing Credits for “American Reckoning”

“American Reckoning” was exclusively written by Jon Bon Jovi. And he also produced the song. His bandmate John Shanks also shares co-production credits.

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