The more I listen, the more I like
The more I listen, the more I relate
Welcome Generation #3!!!
I sometimes wonder how professionals do it, day in day out. Always come up with something “fresh and new”… Me, I struggle everyday, and when Writer’s Block hits, it’s like a hangover you can’t get rid of. I have envy for writers, who do something different, and yet keep their fans, their audiences forever interested. That is exactly what this band does with my #22.
Last year’s #39, grows on me like an addiction. I absolutely love this song! It has the best of what Aerosmith does from start to finish. They take a song just above a ballad type tempo, and create a Rocker that flows like a mountain river after snowmelt. It’s crisp, it’s pure, it has rises and falls. It has sharp edges along its way, it crashes, but it flows continuously, never getting stuck.
Joe bends chords in this song, and creates sounds that are as effervescent as the mist of the water at the bottom of Vernal Falls. Steven has often discussed many of his literary influences, including Lewis Carroll, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise when he writes a song around one of the greatest stories ever written. Not so much so for the book’s importance, as much as it’s varied interpretation over the years by its readers, The time enduring classic story itself, along with its author, have been linked to one of the greatest imaginary feats in history. Although it is filled with life lessons, told in a way that is so desperately far away from any sort of dissertation or lecture. The author has also been perceived by many to have written the story while high on opium, or a sort of magical mushroom, or any other sort hallucinogen of his time. Proof of that though, has never been found. Is the proof in pudding, or cake if you will.
Lewis Carroll takes the reader on a little girl’s journey through a magical, and yet scary, and creepy place, where she “Leaves all the things that are real behind… Nothing’s seen, real’s the dream”. Each of the characters in the story play a vital role in the path the young girl takes. It’s full of promise, and joy, elation, and deceit and fear, and honor, and dishonesty. It’s in a sense, a story written about the paths people take in life, all brought into an imaginary tale of a “trip” one may not want to take at all. However the curiosity of what might be, leads the girl and the reader, through doors just to find out what’s on the other side. It’s in no sense a story, or lesson to NOT open the doors, only a lesson to open the door, feed your curiosity, but always understand, you may find something you were never looking for… both good and bad.
The song was written by Steven and Joe, with the help of Grammy winner Marti Fredericksen. Marti was involved on a few other hits on this album, as well as many others before this one came out. These guys really do some good stuff together. In my opinion, this one is one of their very best. It’s so interesting to me, how Steven and Joe tell these stories together. The music exemplifies the lyrics in every way. It takes you on the same journey the girl in Lewis Carroll’s story did, and therefore leads Steven down the same path. It was released in mid-2001 as a promo single, and they even had to cancel a gig in Irvine, so they could finish shooting the video.
When you hear the song, or see the video, you have to wonder if Johnny Depp, was the wrong guy to play The Hatter as Steven easily takes to the character “like a walk in the park”. With lyrics like; “I followed Alice into wonderland”, “I ate the mushroom and I danced with the queen”, among others. The line; “She’s finer than a painted rose” makes you wonder how well Tyler knows his Disney movies, or at least used the Disney Classic as an added influence.
Director Samuel Bayer, who had worked on major videos by Nirvana, the Rolling Stones, Marilyn Manson and Garbage, to name a few, captured with absolute perfection, the song’s ethereal, and even mystical theme. To be honest, the video of the song, and the characters within, help with my opinion of the song. Even if I hear it on the CD, without any visual to accompany it, I picture what the director chose for me to perceive. He also chose a common perception of Lewis Carroll’s book. That being, perhaps an LSD type of “trip”, or at least the drug of the era, putting it in there for some to perceive it in the same way I did, given that the name of the song, is also a street name for LSD.
As Steven has always done so eloquently, the LSD reference may be only one meaning of two or three within the song. Aerosmith, is so very good at letting the listener interpret what the songs may mean, in the ways that are in the listener’s best interest. He relates to the original story of the lost little girl, by way of her own curiosity, temptation leading the way, into what seems like innocence, only to end up dancing with the Queen, and he keeps referring to what he’s looking for as a sort of “Sunshine”, a light, a delight, a pleasure, but with each verse, each step down the path, down the hole if you will, he finds as much conflict as he does the pleasure he’s seeking.
In the video, Bayer uses color saturation, high contrast and a sort of jerky type effect of characters, including Tyler shaking his head so violently, while Joe sits comfortably in a an old antique chair, within a creepy shack giving the viewer a sense of discomfort, to say the least. It’s creepy, even a bit scary for some kids I would say, but all the while it tempts you further.
In that true Aerosmith circular motion, it seems to bring you back to another meaning; the double, or even triple entendres that Steven is vocalizing when he sings lyrics such as; “…the one that everybody knows”. He’s telling you; “maybe it’s not LSD”, rather the Sunshine that “everybody knows”. However, it’s entirely up to you how you want to perceive.
I’ve talked about Steven’s personality, and character traits of contradiction, of alteration, the art of living in a state of contrariety. We all listen to it, that style of writing in so many lyrics. We hear it when he does interviews, always giving two sides of almost every question he’s asked. This song in particular, tells that side of his personality. The song, as well as Lewis Carroll’s classic story, gives you an inside look at the world of “His World” of dissimilarity. It paints a picture of the idea of reality, not always being what one sees. And sometimes the fantasy may be even more true than reality…
In my very humble opinion, this song may be one of the very best pieces of work Aerosmith has ever done as a band. The lyrics are a story, the music, is the ride you’re on, while listening to the storyteller. It starts you off innocently, with sounds as familiar as a quiet forest, but a sense of caution and still troubling melodies quickly rise, then it brings you back to another almost quiet peace, but not at all. It rises and falls with comfort and discomfort, and all the while maintains the original path of desire and curiosity…
The song itself is brilliant! The video to go along with it makes it a work of art. I hope you enjoy #22, as much as I do.
“I followed daylight right into the dark
Took to the Hatter like a walk in the park
But then I met her yeah she felt so right
No child of the night yeah was she…”
This is; “Sunshine”