The song is close to the vest for me, for many reasons…
Besides the cool laid-back melodies that ultimately explode into raw aggression, with that so very Aero sound, it’s also a tool that I’ve tried to use within times of my life, in order to not fall to far.
That doesn’t mean that I didn’t fall pretty fucking far and hard anyway…
This is the part of the list, where many may not agree, but there are always reasons for people’s favorites. Mine vary from reasons such as just plain loving a song with its perfect melodies and lyrics, to having a bearing on my life.
Utimateclassicrock.com, along with others that don’t necessarily need to be named right now, actually didn’t have too many kind things to say about the album, and even less about this particular song. In fact, out of the 10 songs ranked on the album, the afore-mentioned Classic Rock website ranks it the 2nd worst on the entire album. Whatever guys…. Personally, I guess I’m just a sucker for life lessons, catchy riffs, and awesome harmonica. Maybe not so much life lessons “to be” learned, as much as life lessons learned in parallel…
1989 was a good year for the boys from Lake Sunapee. Not that we should ever look at rock n roll as competition, but it just is by its nature, an adrenaline filled, hormone driving competition.
At the time, groups like Motley Crue and Poison were doing their best, to be the best. But wait a minute! These old dudes from Boston said; “Just watch and learn boys”… And of course the awards were there to back it up. They came out with their 2nd best selling album of their careers, and the best album of the year. So, I’m never quite sure what “some” of these so called “critics” expect or are looking for with this band.
For me though, the song I’m introducing here really started to hit me in the early to mid 90s. So much was going on at the time. America was coming out of its own “In Excess is Best” personality. In excess of everything, whether it was hair mousse or pastel Madonna style scarves, and bootie socks, or the guys with multiple polo shirts and skinny leather ties. Everything in the 80s was over the top, cars, drugs, everything! Catch an Episode of Miami Vice and you’ll surely get my point.
However in the 90s, it was all about trying to hold onto whatever you had, and there always seemed to be someone waiting to shoot you down. In work, in school, in society in general, everyone was looking for the crack in the armor to squeeze through, and if that meant taking some one else down in their pursuit of another ladder rung, so be it. This is where the phrase “Yuppies” really started to take off. The phrase started in the 80s, but blossomed into what it really was in the early 90s.
But this album would prove to be way more than just the innuendos, and yes they are certainly there… Perhaps bigger, and more direct than ever… But the lyrics in this album along with new sounds, which were a lot less “poppy” than Vacation was (Thank you Joe!!!), this album brought back the “rawness“, the edge that is Aerosmith. It’s amazing what coming clean can do, and it’s amazing what Joe does when he is allowed to just play.
Rolling Stone wrote; “Aerosmith is still the reigning king of the hard-rock double entendre…”
The 90s were full of people who were just in it for the quick buck. Not a lot of substance, it was more about seizing opportunities than it was about being qualified. We saw this in Corporate America everywhere, we saw it in the housing boom of the later 90s, everywhere you turned John was trying to get one over on Jack. It was easy to get mad at people at the time. It was easy to have a little animosity towards some who slithered their way ahead. The trouble was, also during the same time period, things like digital paper trails were forming. This was the beginning of the phrase “Politically Correct”, saying things that were socially acceptable, rather than saying what you really felt, saying something that would not, or could not be held against you later, because someone has a copy of it somewhere, or even more slithery, a “screenshot”
Funny too, here we are in 2016, in the middle of maybe the most disturbing Presidential Race in the history of our country, and the Frontrunner is campaigning on the fact that he is not “Politically Correct”, but is as much a snake as anyone can ever be, threatening lawsuits left and right, because someone said something, and there’s a digital copy of it somewhere…
But I digress; The 90’s were a time when people regularly tripped over their own tongues, only to be recorded in a conference room. And sometimes that trip turned into quite the fall. It was a time when Paparazzi was really becoming more than just the National Enquirer. People would pay to see you fail!
When I first started relating to this song, there was a tremendous amount of turmoil in my own life. Lot’s of backstabbing, not only corporate wise, but also within family. To make matters even worse, there was “Family Corporate” backstabbing… my own family kicking me off the corporate ladder, just to appease. There was family hierarchy backstabbing, just to claim favor. There was financial and real estate conniving behind closed doors, just for sole purpose of accumulating dollars that were earned by others.
In a quote out of Wiki, the kid gets it;
“Pump changed my life,” said Justin Hawkins of The Darkness. “I’d been listening to bands like The Cult and The Mission and then discovered this album that was about “fucking” from beginning to end… It just blew me away.
And this song is about “Getting Fucked” and how to deal…
It was a very difficult time for some of us to not get angry. In fact many of us did, on a fairly regular basis. It’s my opinion that the 90s gave birth to the “I don’t give a fuck!” attitude that we have in America today. All the back stabbing and ladder climbing had a profound effect on the personality of this society of ours.
Joseph Kennedy is often credited with the phrase, in reference to politics; ‘Don’t waste your time getting mad, get elected, and then get even”. His point was to wait until the time is right, and then exact your revenge in a political way. Is it about getting revenge, or killing them with kindness? “Get Even”, like in balance, or doing damage in return? You tell me. Personally, I think it’s about finding an “even keel”, not that I ever refrained from revenge in my life. At times, especially back then, it was probably a driving force, more often than not.
This where I get my interpretation of this song. Although Steven writes lyrics about ‘kicking ass’, I think the song is more about finding yourself a better way to deal. He writes about the snakes in society who will “roll you for a dime”, and he sings about how one’s indiscretions will come back on them, whether it be your own, or someone you trust. He’s telling you to be wary of sharks everywhere, and if you put down your guard, you’ll get jumped. But what do you do with that anger? “You got to be discreet”, or you’ll be tossed.
So, when you get angry, just try to get yourself to “even”, to “balance”, and karma will take care of the rest. This is a lesson in life, that I have truly tried to learn, but I’m still such a novice at it. I still have a lot trouble with it, and I’ve been schooled for years. When you’re someone who often speaks without much of a filter, you can often find yourself with your feet in concrete. However, I won’t sleep with the dogs, for fear of catching their fleas.
Sure, it’s relatable to a couple who cheats on each other, and for all I know, that’s probably the original message. In fact I’m sure it is. But for me, the girlfriend is those who you thought you could trust in life, lifting their skirts to get ahead, and if you end up on the street, or in the alley, well that’s just part of doing business for them.
I’ve heard this song described as “Swamp Blues”; maybe that’s a really good description of it. Maybe it’s even better described as “Aerosmith Original Raw Blooze”. This song takes me back to the 1st album. It takes me back to OWS and Movin’ Out, and maybe that’s a big reason why it makes my Top 20. Either way, the Tylerisms flow through this like water through a sieve. Joe’s twang and slicing riffs in this song cross from Bluegrass, to Funk, to Blues all in one song, for that so uniquely “Perry-esque” brand of Rock N Roll! Many try to copy, but there’s only one Joe “Fucking” Perry!
The hardest thing about going to an Aerosmith concert is, watching two Super Stars at the exact same time…
Joe says that;
“When we went to do this album, we knew what we wanted, we wanted to strip off a little fat we felt on our last one. We didn’t say ‘We need a drug song or a child abuse song,’ but when they fit, we used them. That’s Aerosmith: we aren’t bound by any rules.”
Also from Wiki; that lack of rules lead to the instrumental interludes between the songs. The interludes were done with the collaboration of musician Randy Raine-Reusch, who was brought to the studio after Perry and Tyler visited his house to search for unusual instruments to employ.
On this song you’ll hear Randy’s “didgeridoo”… Okay everyone sing along this one’s fun!
“Ahh roll the dice get lucky,
‘Cause they you for a dime…
You got nothing left to lose,
If ya only lose your mind…”
“When pleasure that is shallow,
Gives you trouble that is deep,
You been dusted with the devil,
While he sweeps you off your feet…”
This is “Don’t Get Mad, Get Even”