I paid my dues…
just never got into the club
Still means the world…
“As soon as we cut that 1st song, upon listening to playback, I knew we’d nailed it. I’d done “Sun” at some studio in New York and all that shit. “Sun” was stiff and forced, but I knew with this band, once we got out of our own way, were going to ace it. And with a great guitar player like Joe in the band, if we stayed true to our “fuck-all”… everything would sound like Aerosmith” -ST, DTNIMHBY
During the experience of writing this book, as a sort of ascent to The July 3rd, 2015 Blue Army Tour show in South Lake Tahoe, I was writing each entry to take you all just a little bit closer to me, and where this band fits into my life. How they hooked me. Where I was at the time it happened, my age, family, lack of family, friends, girlfriends, just girls, and some women too. I’m gonna’ share with you some parallels of their lives, their songs, their lyrics, along with my life. I’m sure anyone who is a major fan, has similar stories and memories, and I’m hoping, by sharing mine, they will trigger yours. The good, the bad, and the ugly, all of which are pieces, and without these pieces and a kind of sound track to the pieces… well, we just wouldn’t be who we are. So it’s with these memories, I look back with a smile. It might be a crooked smile sometimes, but never-the-less, it’s a smile.
The particular song I’m gonna’ introduce to you now, is one of the original 5 hooks, for me in 1976. Of which, four are still to come. Yeah, I admit, I may have been a little late to the show, but I still got a front row seat here in the west. The song represents not just an attitude with a lot of fun behind it, but it also exemplifies a confidence of this band that they want to share with their new fans and the world.
Since the beginning, Aerosmith has been a group made up of a certain steel. They have a hard enough shell to get where they’ve always felt they should have been, but at the same time, they were trying to take their fans with them… Since the beginning, even as boys from families with a sense comfortable class success, they would endure a tough road along the way to the success of this band. They would be met with a total lack of support from the industry, along with a very confused potential fan base, primarily confused by critics who tried to put them in a box with other predecessors in order to preconceive opinions of who, and what they were, and were trying to be.
With songs such as ‘Dream On’ in the beginning, and even the upbeat ‘Somebody’, and even ‘One Way Street’ they were recording songs of strong character, not just love stories, or remakes of someone else’s songs. They were defining themselves, the band’s personality. The critics and industry just didn’t seem to hear it, or maybe they didn’t understand it. Sure there were other bands and artists selling the same upbeat feel good music; ‘Crocodile Rock’, ‘China Grove’, ‘Takin’ Care of Business’, ‘Gimme’ Three Steps’, ‘Shambayla’, so why the critics didn’t like the band’s songs of determination, and fortitude, is unknown to me. These songs though, “The 5 Hooks” seem to exude a sense of tenacious self-confidence, and pride of self. Characteristics that were not wasted on this young boy. Those characteristics were visible early, and stayed strong throughout the journey.
It was the summer before I started another new school. I’d just left a town I’d grown up in not less than 16 months earlier, but already moved a previous 7 times, 2 states, and 7 cities within 3 years’ time, and changed schools 4 times. In 1974 I left my very suburban even “California-Country” hometown of Novato, CA. It was the summer between 8th & 9thgrade. I was leaving Junior High School and life long friends, after just returning home from another state and another school, but also just before I got to be that big time 9th grader in Jr H.S., only to go to the “Big City” and be a freshman, new kid in town at a four year H.S…. Then we moved again within 2 months, but still new, still a freshman, just trying to Make It. Just as I thought I was settling in again, Pops packed up the truck again. By the summer of 1976 I had moved two more times and became the new kid in town once again at a new “THREE” year H.S. Yep, the youngest and newest once again.
During this summer I met my soon to be Step Brothers Ronnie, Kenny and Cliff. All much older, and to be honest, being the youngest already in a blended family of 9, I didn’t need 3 new, much older brothers. I mean; When the hell was it ever going to be my turn? All I needed was a chance to be me. I had all the confidence in the world, it just seemed it was never my turn, and probably wouldn’t be any time soon… Dad used to tell me; “Mike, you are so egotistical!” My reply; “No dad, it’s not ego, it’s confidence”… The reality was there was an awful lot of ego inside that confident 14 year old kid. Whatever it took, right?
“We weren’t too ambitious when we started out. We just wanted to be the biggest thing that ever walked the planet, the greatest rock band that ever was.” – S. Tyler
Well, meeting my brother Ronnie, 4 or 5 years my senior, and the youngest of the “Lane” boys, all very musical by the way, he introduced me to many, many things… he introduced me to “the fun of the experience”, no matter the experience. Check that, he didn’t introduce me. I’d kinda’ been a daredevil my entire life, I just didn’t always recognize the moment. I was always looking for the next adventure before I finished the one I was in.
Ronnie taught me what it was like to get on Bennett Valley Road at night, pitch black, 50+ mph on this winding single lane country-hilly road, and turn off the headlights! He taught me what it was like to not just feel confident, but to be confident, to not just like girls, but to let them like you. To go with it, not to appease, but to please yourself, and who you’re with. It wasn’t necessarily a sexual thing, but then again at that age everything is… right? But more than that, he was teaching me a state of mind. He taught me what it was like to dive off of rooftops into pools 15 feet out from the roof line, a trait that I still haven’t outgrown. Ronnie also introduced me to “The Green”, and music. Not just music, but real music, music with a personality. Ronnie introduced me to a sound that shared my lust for life, my desire to be me. It’s not as if he ever said; “Mike, go do this…” it was more like; just be, just do, without ever saying a word.
The first time I heard this song… I mean really heard this song, it spoke to me in a few different ways. The 1st of which, was probably the same as everyone else I suppose, just a really good tune that stays with you all day, a tune that I would easily whistle or hum all day. Such a positive melody! The second way it hit me was in a different way, a way I probably wasn’t even aware of at the time. Being a child of a very ugly divorce, who would end up, and was already in transgression, from “Riches to Rags”, it had a message that I could identify with in my own way. It gave the listener a feeling of; “You can do this.”
During the period in time that I first heard it, I had no clue that the youngest of 9, and really now 12 kids, a 14 year old boy would be on his own within a year’s time. I had no idea how much this particular song would play a role as a source of inspiration, an inspiration to get by on fried bologna, and mac & cheese, an inspiration to just graduate H.S., an inspiration to just keep a job in order to pay the rent, keep the lights on, and keep food on the table, all before my 16th birthday. I had no idea at the time, how many times I would listen to this song over the next 40 years. I had no idea how much some of these very early Aero lyrics would shape my life, and help me to try and look at the hard times as just bad weather. Some people say to let go of the past. Sometimes I wish I could, but to me, the past is the “dues” I’ve paid, the memories are the receipts. That lesson was taught to me in song. Maybe I viewed it as something that was learned, maybe the lyric just fit how I already was. Either way, I would relate to those lyrics for years to come.
I never really “Made it”, so to speak, I never really got that one big break in life, but I did make it through, at least so far. Lot’s of pieces along the way, but mixed in with some really awesome memories. I have a beautiful wife and family, who by all intents and purposes, will also have their dues to pay along the way. But I know that they have the same fortitude, the same confidence that will enable them to get through it. The dues I paid didn’t get me into the club, they only got me close enough to the fence, that I could peek through it, before being told to; “go away, you don’t belong here”… Sometimes I wonder how others did it, and then sometimes I just try to realize that it’s just life. And that when life brings on Primal Screams, just sit back and think; “Make it, don’t break it”.
“At the moment that I saw the Boston skyline, words began flooding into my head: Fuck, we gotta’ make it, no, break it, man, make it. We can’t break up, we gotta’ make it, break it, make it, you know, make it… And I began writing “Make It, make it, make it, break it,” saying the words over and over to myself as I wrote them, like a prospector panning sand in a stream, back and forth and back and forth—water and sand, water and sand—until a little nugget emerges out of the sand. And there in the back of the car I thought to myself, “What would I firkin’ say to an audience? If we write songs, get up on stage, I’m gonna’ be looking the audience in the eye, and what am I gonna’ say? What would I want to say? I’m starting to pan for gold: What do I say? What would I want to say? What’s cool to say? All those ideas were beginning to gel into one fuckin’ phrase… Whoops, here we go!” -ST, DTMIMHBY
Feel the “original raw“, feel the original attitude, the original desire, the original confidence in this two guitar band. Let the rolling drum line carry you above, let the base line enter your soul, hear and feel the singer’s self awareness of who these guys are, and where they’re goin’…
“When life and people bring on primal screams
You’ve got to think of what it’s gonna’ take to make your dreams…”
“Bad weather pull yourself together
Don’t be catchin’ the blues
Bad weather pull yourself together
What have you got to lose
You’re only payin’ your dues…”
This is “Make It”