I’ve been here before
One of my favorites when the album came out…. Couldn’t get enough….
When you listen to a “ballad”, especially a ballad with ‘power”, you often think of love, or heartbreak, or something within that genre. You’re not gonna’ find those typical keys here. This one takes a step away from the ordinary. It’s powerful and kind of haunting when you think of what the song is really about. We don’t often think of Aerosmith in a Gothic sense, but much like what I said about “The Movie”, and even “Sight for Sore Eyes”, I like that the band does what “they” want to do. They have no fear of crossing boundaries.
During the making of DTL it’s a known the feeling of the time is that there was chaos in the band. My opinion is that the chaos really comes out in this song. It was a time of a destructive force within the band. Rumors were flying back then, that Joe was leaving. The reality of those rumors would play out in the coming few years, but even then he separated himself and his then wife Elyssa, from the rest of the band. The drugs and constant “Toxicity” of the relationships between He, and Steven, and, Elyssa, and even Tom’s wife, Terry, and Elyssa’s constant encouragement for Joe to go off on his own, were a driving force in his seclusion during the making of this album.
During the album, they were almost never seen in the same room, let alone the studio at the same time. At least that’s what’s been written. The only time Joe came out, was to shoot his guns on the property, or take his cars or bikes for a spin. Food was ordered up to the room. Drugs were delivered. For “most” of the songs, Joe recorded separately from everyone else.
So, where does this song come from? It comes from Steven, and the “L.I.3.”, along with Jack Douglas playing the mandolin on the track, getting together to write the song to complete the album… without Joe. The abandoned convent near New York City that the band rented out to live in while recording played a background in the song, giving it the feel, the ghostly presence. Its haunting melodies come from within the walls. It also relates to the wars within the band that were the ever present resonating under tones, of what was really happening.
Steven says, he “wrote the lyrics in reference to the all the holy wars through the centuries over religious purposes and reasons, and when it came to fruition, it just naturally took on a Knights of the Round Table essence.” He also says; “I’ve always had a fancy to do songs about anarchy and the church and government”. And that he “felt that he was there, with the Knights of the Round”
There’s also the realization Steven truly feels that he’s “lived this life before”. I have on good credence that Steven has told people close to him, of his past life experiences, his experiences in the “Astral Plane”, and various other spiritualistic and soul traveler type experiences. With a man of Steven’s character, wit, fortitude, brassy fearlessness, and sagacious nature, I cannot begin to doubt that. Men and women alike, of this nature often live a few seconds, if not years ahead of the rest of us. It’s as if the conversation you have with these people has already been had. “What you just done, so has somebody else”
Even with all that said, as if I had some kind of insight to man I’ve never even been introduced to, I can’t assume I have any real clue. Maybe the song the just came from a new high, after watching Excalibur or something… what do I know?
Allmusic.com gives an excellent review of the song in which they describe the tempo this way;
“Big, distorted guitars kick up the tempo after Tyler’s opening lyrics, while a screeching ‘Hitchcockian’ synth note hammers away in the background… The pace is maintained through the next verse as Tyler sings, “Sneer of death, fear only loss of pride/Living other centuries/Déjà vu or what you please/Followers true to all who do or die,” the tempo dramatically slowing for the lines, “Screams of no reply/They died. The arrangement at this point becomes grandiose, an orchestration of synth strings, chunking guitars, piano, and short guitar bursts which descends into a vamp on a wistful bass progression. The song is undeniable in its visceral sweep and distinctively passionate performance. “
There’s a lot of big words there, but I get the sense they liked it…
The song also showcases Joey’s flair, and expertise to play with both intensity, and extreme patience within the same song, becoming elaborate at times and then slowing it down to a crawling roll… Brad leading the way for Steven’s trademark primal screams with screams of his own from his Les Paul, Tom keeps that haunting bass line all the through, as if it’s a safe place to return to, and as the song comes out of the calm, Joe picks it like it’s on fire
The song to me, in a sense, is Aerosmith’s tribute the “deep” of the 70s Rock n Roll, it’s their attempt at a “Stairway to Heaven”, or ELP type song like “Still, You Turn me On”, or something from Floyd. This isn’t their forte’, but they did it damn well! Still though, I think it’s related to the bands inner toxicity of the time. “Sneer at death… fear only loss of pride” “Déjà vu or what’cha please, Followers true to all who do or die”
The video has a bonus, just let it play
“Screams of no reply… they died
Screams of no reply… and died
Lordy lordy and then then they died
Lordy no then they died”