Poison frontman Bret Michaels said the party songs his band are known for were more difficult to write than tracks with heavier emotional meaning.

He made the comparison while discussing surprise hit single “Every Rose Has its Thorn,” which was released in October 1988, two years after the heartbreaking moment that inspired it. While on tour with the band, Michaels had called his then-girlfriend at home, only to have the phone answered by another man. He wrote the song over the following few days.

“You go through a gamut of emotion, because—and I want to say a very strong statement—when you’re going through that, you’re not thinking of it being a hit,” Michaels told Billboard in a new interview. “I wrote it because music was therapeutic to me. In other words, it helped me to get out my broken heart. It helped me to deal with what I was going through.”

Poison’s record label had been reluctant to release what became their only No. 1 single, but Michaels said his bandmates had been supportive, even if they had doubts of their own. “The toughest songs to write are good-time party songs,” he went on. “And let me explain that. People are always like, ‘Oh man, ‘Nothin’ But a Good Time,’ that must have been an easy song to write.’ It’s not an easy song, because when you’re partying and having a good time, there’s no emotion in you that says, ‘Let’s sit down right now and write a song.’

“But you have something break your heart… those moments are the toughest moments in your life, but oddly enough, [inspire] the most defined songs and easier songs to write because you have an exact emotion.”

He confirmed that he’d met with the ex-girlfriend who’d inspired “Every Rose” years later, when they both had kids, and that they’d been able to laugh about it, even though “it wasn’t very laughable at the moment.” He added that he still enjoyed playing it, and the band’s fans still enjoying hearing it. “And for each person it’s probably meant something different,” he reflected. “But for me, to be able to go out there and sing it and still do it this many years later is an amazing feeling. I still get chill-bumps on my arms doing that and knowing it’s withstood the test of time.”

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