Believe it or not, this one actually slipped 8 spots…
How does a song THIS FUCKING GOOD slip 8 spots?
And when I write and listen to it, I ask myself; “Self, how the hell did that happen?’
What does that say about what’s still to come?
What does it say about the dude that created the list?
Maybe he’s fucking nuts?!?
Maybe he has no clue.
Maybe there actually are 39 songs that are better?!?
The truth is, this song can easily be in someone else’s Top 10 any day of the week, including mine, except today…
It’s kind of ironic in a way that the album Steven had the hardest time writing lyrics to, would turn out to be their best selling album of their careers. “Toys In The Attic” has sold over 8 million copies since its release. Though mostly known, and even purchased for “Walk This Way”, “Sweet Emotion”, and even the title track, it’s my opinion this album’s heavy following comes from the “body” of the record. With songs like ‘Uncle Salty’, ‘Adam’s Apple’, and ‘Round and Round’, it’s songs like these that give the record its depth.
As I’ve said before though, these guys write about what they know. For example, if ‘Sweet Emotion’ is an expression of the tension and hatred between the band members, (specifically Steven) and Elyssa Perry, then this song is an expression of Steven’s love, and hate relationship with becoming the Rock Star he was destined to be. Steven is a guy, who truly was just the kid next door, but at the same time, larger than life. He has both relished in his fame, and he has also, not only been frightened by it, but also been a victim of it.
On page 230 of their autobiography Steven tells the reader how he came about the lyrics to this song. He says; Most of the time he was overwhelmed, and often waited to the last minute to get the lyrics down on paper (more on Walk This Way later). He was the only one in the band that wrote the lyrics back then. So when you see credits with other member’s names, it’s usually Steven – Music & Lyrics, Band members – Music. Anyway, he says;
“On a song like this the lyrics came from my verbal diarrhea, a mishmash of words and sounds that I eventually changed into something cool.”
The band was often frustrated during the album, and left Steven to himself to “just come up with something…ANYTHING”. The guys told him, “just write what you know” and this is where the song came from… He says, “the song is about life on the road: Boredom, disillusion, Holiday Inns, Stalemate, Jailbait…”
Steven says this song is his diary… And if you listen you can see it. He also recently said, in the ‘Live at Donnington Movie’, that it’s his “favorite ‘Aerosmith’ tune to perform…” And you can see and feel the truth in that statement when they do it. It’s almost contagious throughout the band. Sure, Joe likes others more, Brad likes ‘Rats’, but when the lead singer carries the emotion of a song a little further the way he sings it, the band picks up on it, and they become extreme in their delivery of passion.
I said earlier that Steven was just kind of the kid next door, but destined to be huge. He talks about the album cover’s design and “The Key”… The “Key” in Aerosmith is really significant and symbolic. “The key” surfaces in other songs throughout their career. What it means is about remembering who you are, where you came from… I tell you this now, because the theme of this album is truly a path away from innocence. Each song represents an indulgence. The following passage helps explain this, in Steven’s words.
“We put the cover to Toys in the Attic together with a design company Jack brought in, Pacific Eye and Ear. My original concept was to have a teddy bear sitting in the attic in a dusty beam of light with his wrist slit open and stuffing all over the floor. “Too off-the-wall” they said. So we had all the toys— bear, rocking horse, drum, toy soldiers— wondering where the kids who used to play with them went to, and when would they come back? But if the kid could find the key to get back to the attic, he regains the innocence and wonder of childhood. The keys were very important to the whole concept. The keys were the icon. Eventually you grow up anyway. The teddy bear becomes whoever you’re with. The rocking horse becomes your car.”
To me, this song is a precursor to the power of what was soon to come on not only the “Toys” record, being the 7th track and 2nd song on side B just before ‘Round and Round’, but also the next record, in “Rocks”. They were giving you a hint of something an edge, a sharp edge… Not violent just emotion. Something that was comparable to a pot ready to boil over…
But before I get too far ahead of myself; I can remember, going down to the record store in Santa Rosa, CA and buying my first copy of this record. It was about as exciting as getting your first BJ, from a chick who knew how to do… I know, I know, priorities, right? Well, maybe not that good, but it was damn close!
Anyways…. as I got the record home, peeled off the cellophane, and listened, just laid down on my bed and listened… I started to play the drums on my knees, on my lamp, on my wall, on my head board, I listened further into the album. I was playing Air Guitar with the best of them. I heard songs that we just didn’t hear anywhere else back then. There was no YouTube. HELL, there wasn’t any internet! You were never gonna’ hear these songs on the radio, and even at house parties, or music in H.S. Quad at lunch, they didn’t play this stuff, because let’s face it, as cool as this band was, they just weren’t that big in the west.
Although ‘WTW’, and ‘Dream’ were well known and well liked, along with Sweet Emotion, Toys was considered kind of a fast mess by west coasters who were growing up on trials and tribulations of Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham… But that was about it, and that’s where the masses stopped listening. No, the west coast was all about the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, or the Doobies, or the Scorpions, Sammy Hagar, UFO, or even KISS back then… So it was in my room, that I got a taste of a story, an ear of something deeper, a feel of a passion. These weren’t just lyrics written to sell a song; this was “life” in music. Told in a way, that not only lets the listener in, but shares it with listener. Not talking at you. Not angry Rock n Roll, not one sided, not directorial… HELL, not even rebellious! It wasn’t asking you to cry over a failed love, or asking you to bite the head off of a bird, It was just conversational, and compassionate, but with a fucking edge to it! This was relatable, albeit on a very different level, I could relate, this was what I needed to hear… This was my personality in sound!
With Joe and Brad leading the way, of what seems to start out as just a beautiful melody, it sets the scene, of something that was just supposed to be a sweet story, but as is often the case with life, the story turns chaotic quickly. However, the chaos doesn’t deter, it just changes the course. It’s not necessarily a sad song; it’s just a song about “it is what is”. It’s a ride, that goes from here to there, as fast as the life of the story teller. It was something that hadn’t quite been done yet by this band. No longer hitched to just blues based music; they took a chance into, and onto a harder edge. They start the song as the very early Aero blues intro, and then turn it into a hard driving song. The guitars bass and drums drive a speed into you that’s lets you know the ride their on is fast, very fast! When you hear it live, they’re asking you to get on, strap yourself in, and feel the ride.
The song is not typical of their style, at least not back then, but at the same time it’s as classic as Aerosmith will ever be. At the time this type of song was not someplace they were going to stake a claim on, but damn they can certainly show up to the party! This song was a peek into The “New Aerosmith”! This was not the Muscle Shoals down home sound of album number one, or the “we’re trying to find our sound” of ‘GYW’, this was “Good Evening People Welcome to Show!”
If you are a fan, you’re gonna’ love this from the “Rockin’ The Joint” Tour, recorded at the Hard Rock, Las Vegas in 2002…
Turn it up…
“Store bought clothes fallin’ ‘part at the seams
Tealeaf readin’ gypsies fortune tellin’ my dreams…”
“Ladies hold the aces and their lovers call it passion
The men call it pleasure but to me it’s old fashioned
Times they’re a changin’ nothing ever stands still
If I don’t stop a changin’ I’ll be writtin’ my will
It’s the same old story never get a second chance
For a dance to the top of the hill…”