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Bon Jovi Pack in Hits and Hardcore Fans at Free Central Park Show

July 14, 2008 5:31 PM ET

"This is the Great Lawn in the greatest park, in the greatest city in the universe," Jon Bon Jovi marveled before performing what easily could have been one of the biggest concerts New York City's Central Park has ever seen. Over 67,500 free tickets were distributed to the 50,000-capacity space — a solid chunk going to fans who flew in from other states, bid desperately on eBay and even camped out from 6 PM the night before to attend the two-hour MLB All-Star Week performance.

A woman in the front of the crowd with an ankle-to-knee cast spoke before the show about how she popped her knee Thursday. "All I could think was: how am I going to get to Bon Jovi?" she said.

The band played hits spanning a 25-year career — everything from "Livin' on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name" off 1986's Slippery When Wet to more recent hits like "Have a Nice Day" and "Who Says You Can't Go Home." The band spiced up tunes like "I'll Sleep When I'm Dead" with bridges from the Beatles' "Twist and Shout," and interrupted their performance of "Bad Medicine" with a high-energy excerpt from the Isley Brothers' "Shout."

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

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