The Beauty of a Boy’s Mother,
Is Unequaled by any Other…
Let’s see what it should be…
Number 72 is an off the wall choice, at best. Again, one of those songs forgotten by many with less than stellar reviews. Shit, you’d almost be hard pressed to find one at all. At least a positive one anyway. Who knows, maybe they’re right. Maybe that’s why this one is more in the rear view mirror, rather than the windshield.
The song comes from a dry time in the career of the band. Ironic to the title I guess… a period of years without real and substantial new material. Maybe the lack of decent reviews are because the song is so very, very far off track of who this band has always been. Maybe that’s why I have a fondness for it. It’s a different side, a different look. Maybe the word “side” is the wrong term or word to use, but more like a glance, a trait. Another interest, like we all have. Is it our inner desire to paint, to build, to write, to create something different?
There are many stories out there of who, and what, this song is about, whether it be about Steven and Cyrinda, or Teresa, or some other unknown girl. But the truth is probably a lot different than we all assume. Sure, I realize Steven will always put sexual or relationship connotations to a song, in order to sell its appeal, and that works, so why not? But the reality and beauty of this song is not as mysterious as one might think. In fact; although Steven and Valance will get most of the lyrical credit, the true meaning belongs to Joe.
Let’s go back to “Walk This Way”, The autobiographical book of the band, Let’s go back to “Rocks”, My Life In and Out of Aerosmith, let’s go back to the lyrics in “Combination’; “Walking in Gucci, wearing “Yves St. Laurant, barely stay on, ‘cause I’m so God damned Gaunt…”
What was written and realized, was that Joe’s mother couldn’t stand the sight of the junkie he had become. After Joe’s father died, his mother moved to Arizona, because she needed a warmer place to retire, but also to create a distance between herself and what he had become. There were times in my life, before this song’s existence that I can relate to. In many ways, I’m sure similar to Joe’s original intent…
In the spring of 1981, the year after I graduated High School, and already almost 3 years on my own, I found myself as an 18 year old kid in a constant state of paranoia, living alone with no direction. “So God Damned Gaunt” the word ‘malnutrition’ might come to mind. And you know what? You’d be right. In my little apartment in Bennett Valley, Santa Rosa, I was very much alone. While my friends at the time, were busy taking classes at the local JC, giving an effort to start life, and partying on weekends, yet always returning home to mom and dad, for meals and laundry, maybe even asking Pop for a few duckies for the weekend, I was sinking, falling further and further.
There was no school, no college, only darkness walking into walls. My minimum wage job was nothing more than a means to afford my habits. I know, you’re 1st thought is; “Minimum wage, living on his own, how much of a habit could he have had, and still paid rent and eaten food?” Well the truth is, some of you may be old enough to remember the days of Full Service Gas Stations, and instead of swiping the magnetic strip of the credit cards, we had to take imprints and carbon copies. We also had to often get authorization over the phone inside an office, out of view of the customers. By running “Double Slips’ in the machine, and getting authorization for twice the amounts of actual purchase you can begin to see where a kid, without direction, without parental guidance, but a keen artistic hand, can easily afford a habit way beyond his means.
Knowing I was completely lost to the drug, with the lyrics of “Combination” haunting my paranoid psyche on a daily basis, I continued down this very dark road. Even friends tried their best to bring me straight. Telling me stories of the FBI watching me at work, watching my every move at home. Countless nights of peeking through the curtains in wonderment of just who was watching me, but at the same time always getting more… It was during that previous year’s Christmas that my mother came to visit. My mom, my ever loving beautiful mom. A mother with a ton of “fire in her eyes” toughness, and yet all for the “tear in her eyes” love of her son, she saw the world I was living in. Although she never addressed it, she knew… But with that knowledge, insisted I leave where I was, and once again live with a parent who cares, to finally make a break, to accept help, to accept love.
I took my mother AND my sister up on that offer in the spring of 81. I so desired “real”, “normal”. I leaped at the offer, as if someone was throwing me a life preserver in the waters I was drowning in. The truth is though, it’s one thing to want to be rescued by someone, it’s a whole ‘nother to not dive right back into the waters you were pulled from.
Over the next 15-16 years, I would continue my ways, never a full blown needle using addict, but definitely a weekend binger, with a habit that was hard to afford, and even harder to break. I like to call it controlled addiction. Although the truth is, if I really had any self control at all, I wouldn’t have fallen as often as I did. And it wasn’t unusual for the weekend binge to follow into Monday, Tuesday, or start early on Thursday.
I’m not sure what’s worse, a person in denial of what he is, only because he has a schedule, or the guy who admits it, but never asks for help. The point I’m getting at is this; Although my mother never lost faith, never gave up, I continued a path of self destruction for many years to come. However, upon my true and real emersion from the dark, my mother and I were as close as ever. I wished that I could have been the son she always wanted me to be, but I’m so happy that she was the mother I always wanted, and although my path that I was walking was severely shaken at times, my mother always kept faith that I was a good person, and that I would come out the other side, someone she could be proud of and respect.
During my mom’s last years, I spent the time that a son needs to spend with his mother. I had nothing left to regret in our relationship. Pure love. Sure, there were annoyances as most have. Sure there were disagreements, but all was said. All was felt. And that alone is the beauty of the bond between a mother and her son. You might say; “I found the key, the key to the vault.”
In the sobering years of 87-89 Joe and Billie visited his mother in Arizona, which is where the inspiration for the song came from, according to Jim valance. It was Joe’s song, but it didn’t fit on “Pump”. It was a song to, and about his mom. Living in this place, so very different from home, but the beauty of it all. A boy’s mother in his eyes, in a setting, that accentuates that beauty, that different kind of love. It’s a song about coming full circle, and being okay with where she is now. It’s a song about apology without saying sorry. It just says love. Joe and Billie were so impressed by the serenity of where they were, and the serenity his mother had found, that the he was influenced to put those feelings of his mother and their relationship to music. The embodiment, the contrast of what he once was, to where he had once been, and to who and what they were now.
The song was never finished that year, and sometime just weeks before “Devil’s Disguise” came out Jim valance got a call from the band’s receptionist at their management office, asking him if he remembered any un-released songs he might have wrote with Aerosmith?’ Thinking the question was odd at the time, he answered with “Legendary Child”, and another… but the receptionist asked him again if he remembered “Sedona something” specifically. At that point he remembered, but also states they never finished it. However Aerosmith still gives credit to him, for his assistance. Jim has true respect and appreciation to Steven and Joe for remembering him, on a song that was almost forgotten. A song that just never fit anywhere, at least until the right time.
I would be remiss, If I didn’t give the obligatory bad Rolling Stone Magazine review… But hey… this time, I’ll side with them. The record really was a contractual obligation… but without it, who knows if we would have ever heard this beautiful gem of a song, dedicated and written to a boy’s mom in her after years. Amazing, the feelings of serenity after the storms have passed.
Rolling Stone Magazine; “The album’s two new tracks are a nice addition, but they don’t really merit a real reason to buy the CD if you already have a decent collection of the band’s hits. “Sedona Sunrise” features the band’s signature guitar sound and Tyler’s voice screeching out a quasi ballad. Sadly, “Devil’s Got a New Disguise” starts out as a hard guitar “classic” Aerosmith song, but quickly changes into an up tempo “pop rock” song that is easily forgettable.
Look, RS Mag, has never been a friend of the band’s from day one. So, even with such a beautiful song as this is, with the meaning behind it obviously lost on shallow critics, I ask that you listen to the music again, listen to the lyrics again, for the 1st time…
And if you’re wondering how your mom feels, ask her… and then tell her how you feel. That’s what it’s all about…
“It’s as clear as a sunrise in Sedona
Just what it is that’s blowin’ in the wind
It’s the fire in her eye’s
It’s the tear when she cries
It’s the heat when I fall to my knee’s
That I’m thinkin’ of…”
Love you mom,
This is; “Sedona Sunrise”