If only I had the key…
I could trade all of it, for me…
The man is a trip… He’s like an absolute blue-collar dude… I mean at least he gets it… well, maybe… not really, but honorary for sure. He can rub elbows with the “Nouveau Riche” at the same time, too. On one hand, he could take you to the cellar with the rats, on the next you’ll be partying with Armani in Gay Paris’….
It seems to me, everything this man does, he does with a passion and driving fortitude, and yet at the same time, he comes off as the coolest, calmest man on the planet! This could very well be some of what the original “Toxic Twins’” in-fighting was about. Steven always had to work, and work hard. Not saying that Joe didn’t, he did, he just always seemed to make it look easy. Steven wanted to work, Joe wanted to have fun. Joe would sit down and jam out a riff, and it would turn into a song. Steven always wanted to tweak it, and then tweak it again, and then maybe one more time, and a time after that. And we’re all thankful for that, we truly are. However, Joe was good with what it was usually from the start. Steven had to really work at the lyrics, I mean the words often came easy, but the delivery was always a piece of work, more than that though, it was art. Steven was reciting, he was practicing delivery, the message, the tone. Joe was improv. It was hard for them when Joe and the rest of the best band would have their work done, and they always seemed to have to wait for Steven.
I’ve often thought of the Toxic Twins this way;
If you were lucky enough to be at a party that they were both going to attend, Steven would walk in and absolutely own the room, with his persona and charisma. The whole room would want to be in his presence, as he would be more than happy to tell you all how much “YOU” love the fact that he is there and the center of attention! One of those; “I’m glad you all got to see me”, type of people. I only say this, because, I know the type and the phrase well. And no doubt, we would all actually love that about him…. BUT, then Joe walks in… Doesn’t have to say a fucking word… Not one word! And the room’s full focus changes from Steven, who we all thought was the coolest, and then Joe defines “Cool” just by walking in the fucking room! It’s almost wrong… Someone with so much character, so much personality as Steven has, to then see Joe, who is one speed, one tone, but it’s a tone that draws people in, absolutely effortlessly.
Steven, today, after all the hardships, fighting, drugs of their younger years, he gets it. He now understands who Joe is, and more importantly, he knows who he himself is, WHAT Joe is. It took the breaking of the band, and not just once btw… and then many more years to figure that out. But I have to hand it to Steven, it takes a big man, especially one with an ego the size of Russia, to step back, and just be in the light this guy gives off. As accomplished members of the Toxic Twins Songwriting Duo, they have written over 85 songs together. In 2013, Tyler and Perry were recipients of the ASCAP Founders Award, and were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Joe Perry wrote this song, and also sang lead – his first lead vocal on an Aerosmith recording (Steven sings back up). He has said many times that “the song is about heroin, cocaine and me.” … ‘You can’t part the three of us once we got a hold’.
With the sudden flow of cash running through the band’s fingers, and more specifically through his hands, he could (at the time) now afford luxuries like designer shoes and suits; “Walking in Gucci wearing Yves St. Laurent…” and that also meant he could afford better drugs, and more of them; “Barely stay on ‘cause I’m so God Damned gaunt…”
Damn if that ain’t familiar! I know some of you know exactly what I’m taking about. Maybe not on the same level, maybe so… But I know damn well, some of you remember when the money spent for “fun” went from $30 a weekend, to $300, to $500, and… And that it had nothing to do with the normal expenses of a night out. I know some of you may even remember when the nights became the day, and the weekends would go into the week…
However, as good as Aerosmith and he, were doing financially, his family life was suffering. To know what this man is about, you can imagine the tensions that he was creating for himself. The opening lines to the song give that age old dilemma; you know what you’re doing is wrong, and destructive, but you do it anyway.
“The street is cold the dawn is grey
My heart says no, but my head says stay…”
Anyone, ANYONE who has ever put their face down on a mirror, knows that lyric right there to be truer than true can be! Imagine if you’re parents witnessed what these guys’ parents witnessed. Some of you may even know that feeling. Some of you who are in your 50s now, 60s even, will remember back to when you knew it all, you had it all, you were all that, only to realize what you really were when your parents found out the truth. I know I do!!! If you were lucky, that was enough to exact a change, but many of us were too fucking ignorant, and just kept riding the train…
This is a man who grew up to value family more than life itself. Upon seeing her son in this state, his mother decided she couldn’t stand the sight of him as an addict, an emaciated junkie, so she moved out of Massachusetts, to Arizona. Heartbreaking when you think about it.
There are so many things I could go on about this guy. I guess it’s easy to say I have a total “Man Crush” on this dude. I mean Jesus! The man had his own fucking BBQ Sauce line! “Rock Your World” BBQ Sauces. How can you not love that?!? He’s an absolute devoted husband, and family man, with a love and appreciation, and respect for his wife and kids. He is a philanthropist for Cancer Research and a huge supporter of the arts. Being a Gun and Knife collector and enthusiast, he promotes safety to the fullest all the while standing for his rights, but not losing sight of others’ rights to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, whichever way they see fit. He believes in “Don’t Tread on Me”, but he also believes in your right to disagree.
Back to the song… It’s dark. It really is. But the music doesn’t take you down, it just takes you on an “almost”, but not quite uncontrollable, and yet uncomfortable ride. The melody tells you they’re having fun, it’s fast and sometimes furious, almost like a carnival ride type of fun, but the lyrics… the lyrics are telling you it’s wrong, so wrong. And then there’s that “key” again. But even with the darkness of the song, it’s absolutely one of my favorites! Even with the fact that my own memories are parallel to it’s message (to an extent). My own sense of knowing right from wrong, and yet choosing wrong, and the constant struggles that entails. It’s intense, and It has one of my own favorite sayings / lyrics from it. I still use it today…
I’m lucky enough, and frankly old enough I guess, to have seen and heard this one live more than once, and that will have to be cool. But before I give the video attached, I just want to say; “Thank you Joe for this song! This song, that means so much”. Both, for the times that once were, and for being able to look back on it as just a page out of the handbook…
If only I had the key, I’d trade it all for me….
Until then, “I’ll find my own fun, sometimes for free…”
I give you the Coolest Guy on the Planet, and “The ‘Rock Star’ in the band!”
Joe Fuckin’ Perry!
“I traded you for me
I took it all and said…”
“I found the secret the key to the vault
We walked in darkness kept hitting the walls
I took the time to feel for the door
I found the secret the key to it all…”
This one’s a treat people!
This is; “Combination”