The Story of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – The Ultimate Power Ballad

It’s Wednesday evening which for me usually means power ballad time! Every person who knows me is well aware of my immense adoration for power rock ballads of the 80s (I have also expressed it in pretty much all publications). These songs are so magical, so gentle – but at the same time possess such a beautiful spirit and intensity that can’t but make you lose yourself in the feeling. I have this long playlist of wonderful and notable power ballads from the 80s and every evening I somehow find myself listening to it – it just calms me down and creates the perfect mood.

Anyhow, I am sure that my readers are well aware of what a power ballad means, but just for the sake of it, I’m going to remind some of the major characteristics of the trend which brought a lot of money and fame to many classic rock bands. It has been estimated that the power ballad trend broke into the mainstream American radio in the beginning of the 70s with songs such as “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin and “Dream On” by Aerosmith. However, the polished versions, ideas and the ultimate peak of this direction were reached in the 80s. Simply put, a power ballad is hard rock/metal songs that usually explore the topics of love and heartbreak. In addition to being excessively emotional and poetic, the power ballad has the ability to portray the soft and gentle side of 80s and 90s rockstars which as we know didn’t appear to be so soft or gentle. Sometimes, they can be too cheesy but the most important thing is that the power ballad is a rock song that combines tender melodies and gentle vocal delivery with heavy guitar riffs and a steady buildup, especially towards the end of it. That’s the essence of it – you can get both sentimental and teary, but at the same time still possessed by the empowerment of hard rock music.

Back to what I was saying (I’m sorry I felt like if I’m going to talk about this song, I may as well give you a bit of background information)…when we talk about power ballads from the 80s, the first songs that come to our mind are “Love Bites” by Def Leppard, “Always” by Bon Jovi, “November Rain” by Guns N’ Roses, “When I see You Smile” by Bad English…and of course the ULTIMATE power ballad song – “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison. I really love and appreciate the true beauty of this song and it always makes me feel a bit nostalgic but it also calms me down at the same time. I know is not necessarily the song that’s supposed to bring out some intense and heavy emotional reactions; however it can indeed make you think about many things. Its great power comes from the beautiful lyrics which to me are the lifeblood of the song…

“Every Rose Has Its Thorn” is a power ballad song by the American glam metal band Poison. It was released back in 1988 and it immediately made a statement on the charts – #1 on Billboard Hot 100, #8 in New Zealand and Ireland and top 20 positions in many other countries around the world. Furthermore, it was released as Poison’s third single from their second album “Open Up and Say… Ahh!” – It’s a pretty decent album, by the way, you should check it out if you haven’t done it yet. Many notable music institutions such as VH1 and MTV also gave it some huge praises – number 34 on VH1’s “100 Greatest Songs of the 80s” and number 7 on MTV and VH1 “Top 25 Power Ballads”. Unfortunately, throughout their career Poison didn’t score another number one hit song, so “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” remained their only number one.

 

Poison lead singer Bret Michaels wrote this in response to a failed love affair with Tracy Lewis. After playing at a bar in Dallas, Texas, Michaels called his girlfriend at her Los Angeles apartment and heard a man’s voice in the background. The next day the disconsolate Michaels took his acoustic guitar with him to a Laundromat and wrote the song right there. He explained in Rolling Stone June 10, 2010: “I remember using a pay phone to call this girl I was dating. We were on the road, touring in our Winnebago, and my relationship was falling apart. I still have the yellow legal pad I wrote it on. There are, like, a bazillion verses that I later edited down.”

(paragraph retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com)

 

Musically speaking, the song is quite quiet and melodic. It features two guitar solos – one of which is more soft and mellow and one that is a bit faster and more solid. Again, what I said before – the power ballad is a combination of delicate melodic rock and raw and even a bit aggressive one.

With this song, what makes things a bit more interesting is the country vibe you get when listening. There’s a reasonable explanation – it was done intentionally! During the time of this song’s release, the band had been playing at a famous cowboy bar in Dallas, Texas. This environment, naturally, influenced them and they generated it all into this song. We can clearly catch the twang in Bret Michaels’ vocals which is probably the main reason why we get this cowboy feeling. By the way, for those who don’t know, twang is a “high frequency singing sound especially affected by country singers”. Doesn’t matter – you don’t have to know what twang is to feel it – he sounds so country. Also, we can sense the whole cowboy theme in the lyrics as well – “Just as every cowboy sings a sad sad song, every rose has its thorn”.

 

“This was back before anyone thought about a crossover. We had ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ at #1 Pop, #1 Rock, and Top 40 Country, which was unheard of,” Bret Michaels said.

 

As much as I love the song, the music video is quite dull, at least to me. It’s one of those videos which pretty much each and every rock band of the 80s has – the frontman (in our case Michaels) sitting down, dramatically playing the guitar while we see some black and white scenes from their concerts. I feel like they could’ve done something else – I have so many ideas about a music video for this beautiful song…

Regardless of the lack of originality in the music video, the song is very sentimental and soulful. To many it may sound very cliché and I can understand why – it explores one of the most talked about issues and characteristics of humans – people may present themselves as beautiful and trustworthy but no one knows what they have hidden deep down inside and what their true motives are. Sometimes, we cannot see it at first – we are simply mesmerized by the other person’s charm, good looks, smiles and promises…but life is full of surprises and one day your world may fall apart… The lyrics of this song perfectly illustrate this point and make us think a little bit deeper about life. What happens to the one that’s left with the broken heart? Even if you have moved on, is still hurts to know that the person you’ve been admiring and cherishing like a delicate rose is now with another one…

Humans are flawed – they have thorns…so be careful not to get pricked…

Hope you guys love the song as much as I do…Don’t forget to play it!

 

xoxox

Lyrics:

“Every Rose Has Its Thorn”

We both lie silently still in the dead of the night
Although we both lie close together we feel miles apart inside
Was it something I said or something I did?
Did my words not come out right?
Though I tried not to hurt you
Though I tried
But I guess that’s why they say

[Chorus:]
Every rose has its thorn
Just like every night has its dawn
Just like every cowboy sings his sad, sad song
Every rose has its thorn

Yeah it does

I listen to our favorite song playing on the radio
Hear the DJ say love’s a game of easy come and easy go
But I wonder does he know?
Has he ever felt like this?
And I know that you’d be here right now
If I could have let you know somehow
I guess

[Chorus]

Though it’s been a while now
I can still feel so much pain
Like a knife that cuts you the wound heals
But the scar, that scar remains

I know I could have saved a love that night if I’d known what to say
Instead of makin’ love we both made our separate ways
And now I hear you found somebody new
And that I never meant that much to you
To hear that tears me up inside
And to see you cuts me like a knife
I guess

[Chorus]

Credits:
Poison Lyrics, retrieved from http://www.azlyrics.com

Every Rose Has Its Thorn by Poison, retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com

P.S I don’t own any audio or visual material used in this publication. All the credits go to the publishers, owners and/or right holders.
cheers.

2 thoughts on “The Story of Poison’s “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” – The Ultimate Power Ballad

  1. Hi Velina,
    May well be the ultimate power ballad. A couple spring to mind that could challenge that which I’m sure you can guess at. Every Rose definitely has a country flavour to it. Great song. It deserved to be a successful single. Some bands, and rock/metal fans won’t touch a song if that word ‘love’ is mentioned……that is their loss.
    Cheers
    Ian

    Like

    1. Hey, Ian!
      Thank you for the comment … To me personally – every time I think of power ballads – this one comes to mind – like a synonym … that’s why I said it’s the ultimate one…
      Thank you once again for the comment….
      cheers

      Like

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