Number 8 – You Can Never Really Go Home….

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It Was Written With Seven Days Time Before Mary and I Were to Embark on a Mini-Vacation,
and See This Old Band, Play Nothing More
Than a Few Old Songs.

 

Odd thing to even contemplate, while we were still looking for a place to live, and the seriousness of that issue at the time. Didn’t really make a lot of sense, other than what this band and these songs mean to me, along with the joy they bring. But all the while thinking; “Gotta stand up, sit down, and jump through hoops at the same time. And then we all just lie at their feet waiting for someone to say yes…” Nothing in the city, nothing in the country. Makes you wanna’ just go home… But you can’t… 

I was beginning to think, it might just be time to just give the Fuck up!

Without further reprieve, let’s talk about number 8. A song that has always been in my Top 5 until just this year. What makes this year different? Maybe the realization that you can never really go home.

“Hey Brad, you got something up your sleeve?”

I don’t know why, or where, rumors get started. It seems to me though, it’s usually started from the point of envy, or even jealousy of some sort, or maybe it’s just because people have nothing better to do. There’s been a lot of stories out there that the guitar riffs in this song were written, and originally performed by an un-cited outside musician. It’s also been written that the chords and basic melody are a rip-off of David Bowie’s “Fame”. First; don’t you think somebody would have stepped forward by now, if they actually wrote that guitar riff?  Well it just so happens, somebody did… many times… Brad!

Brad has come forward so many times in regards to the rumors, it’s almost disrespectful. He has been asked the same question over the years, many, many times, yet he’s always handled the questions with the utmost class. Brad tells the story of the song like this;

“After rehearsal one day, I played this riff and Steven yells; ‘I love it!’ and started playing drums; he plays very different from Joey, with a more jazzy approach, fun to work with. Joe threw in a couple of chord changes, a D chord to an A, and then spiced up the chord a little.”

 

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A little Trivia here; The banjo on the studio version was played by Paul Prestopino, a multi talented musician who played with people such as Edgar Winter, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Rick Derringer, and many others, and even came back later in life to play with Aerosmith again on “Devil’s Got a New Disguise”.

As far Bowie goes though… Come on! Really!!??!! It doesn’t seem these guys aren’t even fans of Bowie’s stuff. I mean, I’m sure there’s a respect factor, but in order to be “influenced” by someone, doesn’t it make sense that you should at least be interested in what they say or do? Kinda’ hard to steal something you don’t even listen to. There are similarities between songs throughout history, but come on! This is NOT “Fame”!

I can’t tell you for certain what Brad and Steven we’re thinking about when they wrote the song… well some parts I actually can, but for the most part, this is my interpretation, and I would venture to say; I’m pretty damn close to the root. The song is close to my heart for many different reasons, but we’ll start with my understanding of it, and in that, you will find the reasons why it’s close to me.

Parts of the song parallel my early life. The essence of the song is a “yin and yang” of sorts. It’s “contradiction” in its purist, and most impure form, from start to finish. It’s about where you came from, and where you’re going. It’s about back and forth. It’s about home and away. What you are, and what you want to be. It’s about what you are outside of the safety of your home, and the never ending desire to get back to where you once were.

 

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Although “Tallahassee” is a real geographical city, in the song it’s simply a description of a place the story teller has in mind. A description of a place contrary to life in the city… And… well, it rhymes with the word “Sassafrassee”. Tallahassee “IS” Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire for Steven, It’s Novato, Ca and SOCO for me, and Putah Creek for john Fogerty, and it’s your place you call home… “I’m dreaming tonight. I’m living back home…” Right! “Light in the dark…

Sassafrassee is a character trait. It’s more than a base ingredient for Sarsaparilla, or Root Beer. It’s more than an ingredient for perfumes and soaps and such. It’s a moniker given to many a young woman back in the day, for having a sort of “Sassiness” about themselves. I can vaguely remember my own mom, and her sisters using the term to describe some of my female cousins. So this word right from the start gives the listener the storyteller’s concept of contradiction…

“Take me back to a South Tallahassee… Down cross the bridge to my “Sweet Sassafrassee…”

Tyler has used the term “Sass” loosely to describe a woman he has an idea of, in his own mind, kind of an alter ego type of girl. This goes back to “Walk” with “A Classy Kind a Sassy”, and I’m sure if I really looked, I could find a few more.

The song takes the listener on that Aerosmith roller coaster ride of “ins & outs”, and “ups & downs”, and “good & bad”. We get into more of the contrary of thoughts. The battle between what’s comfortable and safe, and what’s ugly and not safe at all. “Yes sir, No sir”, “Stand up, Sit Down”, “hate’s in the city, and my love’s in the meadow” , “Hands on the plow, and my feets in the ghetto”…
Tyler and Whitford, bring the last 5 or 6 years (at the time 1976), into a whirlwind of thoughts of home, and what’s real, and what is not real, but it is, it’s all real, then again it’s not…

They bring us the dangers of “The City”, the allure to the indiscreet, the temptation of excess. They show you how cruel it can be out there, with references to the Jean Paul Getty III’s kidnapping in ’73, and his ear that was mailed to his parents in an attempt to show that it was not a joke. The cruel part was that so many thought that it was J Paul the III’s own made up rouse to gather more attention and money from the family… The result was in the envelope.

The following verse has soooo much, meaning; “you just can’t do right by some people. Do whatever the boss says, as long as he pays you”. And the bigger the boss, the more power, the more influence, the less in touch they are with the people who make them money… How does the old saying go? “Work hard and you’ll get ahead in life”. Or is it; “Find people to work harder for you than you’re willing to, but take all the credit, and you get even further in life”… ?

We all make our choices in life, it’s just that not all of us have the same choices to make.

Stand up sit down 
Don’t do nothin’ 
It ain’t no good when boss man’s stuffin’ it
Down their throats 
For paper notes 
And their babies cry 
While cities lie at their feet
When you’re rockin’ the street…”

They also try real hard to keep that sarcastic humor thing going. It’s not just about the difference between home, and away, it’s also about what you DON’T BRING HOME from the road! They get a little sophomoric in the song, as is the band’s character from day 1, and the sarcasm, is not lost on this Last Child, I love it! Still do… With their references to NOT bringing home a social disease, and abiding to the “Ten Day Rule”, as discussed in the autobiography…

“Don’t come close to my 
Home sweet home 
Can’t catch no dose 
From a hot tail poontang sweetheart sweathog…”

Just before the band would come home, they would refrain from sex with groupies, kind of as a courtesy to their wives and girlfriends (except oral of course). But it truly does mean more than just the obvious. It means don’t bring your work home. This is home, don’t stain it.

It’s not just another Aerosmith “Bloozy” tune. This one’s got some Joe Perry “funk” that we all love so much, added into it for signature, with incredible Tyler-esque double entendres that make you rock back and forth, and up and down. You just can’t help it! I love how it starts out, almost fooling you into thinking it’s another ballad, but just as the song’s theme goes; “Oh Contrare…” it suddenly starts rockin! It’s a rockin’ blues melody where Brad stays low, while Joe goes up high. It sounds as if the two guitars are just playing with each other all the way through…

 

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I can’t wait to see this one live! This is a showcase for Brad in concert, his talents are paramount… so much fun! And to think some people think it’s not his. WOW! And even some sem to think there are 1,000s out there better… I just have to shake my head.

This first video link is MY OWN homemade video from a blues cover by Cathy Richardson, and Wayne Baker Brooks, off the album “Blues On Fire Sweet Emotion, The Songs of Aerosmith”. This particular video of the song. Being the “Last Child” in a family of 9, one who has spent some time in the deep, this is my take. It shows pictures and artwork from Novato, Sonoma County, and of course my own familiar city, San Francisco. If you spend some time in the veins of the city, you’ll be able to see what people “up on high” would rather not see, and what many don’t see, refuse to see.

We all make our own choices in life… We are a product of the choices we make, right? What choice do I make now? What are my choices? Do I get the same choice as you? If you are the last child of nine, and Dad says he’s done, before he’s done, and says; “See ya kid, good luck on your own. You’ll be fine…”  I guarantee you, if you’re just a punk in the street at 15, by “NO CHOICE OF YOUR OWN”, you will wear that your entire life. Sure you’ll make choices… they’re just a different set of choices, from a different set of options.

Some would just assume let it bleed out. The video will probably deliver my interpretation better than this whole intro did…

Then the last is my favorite live version.

If you haven’t lately people, It’s time to get back to the real nitty gritty…

This is: “Last Child”!

 

 

 

 

Number 7 – It’s Dark Down There…

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Sometimes I feel like I’m goin’ insane,
and everthing’s forgotten
But then I remember, it’s Really cozy…

When you come up with an album like Toys, an album that produces even more success than anyone could’ve ever dreamed of having in their Junior year, how do you follow that up?

You’ve written about everything from drugs, to talking to yourself, to bad relationships, to voices in your head, how seasons change, to sex, and more drugs, to floatin’ down a stream ‘n losin’ touch with all that’s real, to making it, to one way streets, and more sex…. and more drugs, and more sex! Where do you go? How do you keep the fans’ interest in who you are? How do you show them what you’re about?

You keep it honest. Don’t fuckin’ sugar coat it!

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This album was the shadow of its predecessor, and this song was an even darker shadow of that album’s title track. If Steven was able to keep the band slowing it down on Toys for effect, Joe and Brad were able to slam it home faster and louder on Rocks. This album show’s the world that this is not just Steven’s band, but in fact the founder has something pretty fucking loud to say!

There’s another driving force in this band, and he’s gonna drive it all the way home. The record is a constant display of power and extreme, to Joe’s vigor for loud and fast. Even the most inexperienced Aero fan would have a hard time not agreeing that this was the band’s most defining album of their 40+ year career. Every song, every chord, every lyric screams AEROSMITH!!!

The success of the album on the backside of Toys, launched the band into a Super Stardom that most people, including themselves, would probably say they weren’t ready for. The Rocks album was a confluence of hard, road battered, but not weary band members, ready to take their idea of Rock n Roll to a level above what was currently being played in arenas around the country. It was in the same vein as Nugent, but with sensibility, it was Blues based Rock n Roll similar to AC/DC, but with way more complexity. Yes, there were many metal bands by now, and many bands, who played some loud rock n roll, but these guys were looking for a melody, and lyrical story telling, that actually made someone want to hear the story, but at the same time, taking that melody to the extreme.

 

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Aerosmith wanted music with substance, more than a song about a city that rocks, or about a gun that shoots love. They wanted it, at a pace not previously done. They were going to, not only spell it out for you, they were also gonna’ let you feel what was going through the veins of this band. They took the fluidity in sound of “Toys” and turned up the speed about 10 notches. As Tom says; “Taking this thing the Yardbirds created, and making it balls to the wall!”

The 1st time I saw this song live… heard it live, I knew I had been rocked like never before. There was no turning back! 1978 almost 40 years ago to the day I wrote this, July 23, 1978 14 fucking years old! Holy frickin’ wow!

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Joe has often said that this song is one of his all time favorites to play live. Inspired by the death of one their closest drug dealers and friend of the time, they take you into an underworld, that most people would have a hard time imagining that people so famous could actually be part of. You would think they would have someone, or some people to go down in the deep. Given what I DO know about their road, it truly is hard to believe they made it past the same types of vices that took down such talents as Randy Rhodes, or GNR, or the Crue, or Jimi, and Curt Cobain, and many, many more.

This song takes you “down there”, underneath the stairs, where the old needles and broken syringes lay, where the junkie’s wondering if he’s still alive, and if he is, who will find him?… he Hopes it will be someone with his next hit. While the song celebrates their friend’s life of wild abandon in one breath, it also desecrates the life of the underside, the underbelly. It shows you, eyes wide open, that the only way to go from there… is down.

This is Ellis & Leavenworth, Eddy & Jones, 1975, San Francisco Tenderloin District. It’s Hell’s Kitchen, and every other street dope neighborhood in the country. You pick the city…

There’s no light down there.

 

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There used to be a saying back in the day,  back when you wondered if Steven would fall off the stage, or Joe would even play something you could follow, that if you heard this song in concert, you got your money’s worth, no matter how much the tickets cost. Well, the tables have turned, them and those days have parted… But when they later wrote about a “love that was the killin’ kind”, don’t kid yourself that it might’ve been about some hot chick. No, you can drop that shit right where you got it.

The love they’re talkin’ about was the love of what could not be resisted… I think we all know that here and well.  As I said; these guys climbed out, and man they will put on a show that will leave you mesmerized. Every note, every chord, every step is as good as it gets! So good you need to make sure that your kids see this! It’s that important! It’s that good!

The song deserves so much more, than what I’ve written here. It is that worthy, It is that good! It’s Blue Army through and through! It’s fast, it’s furious! It’s exciting and it’s a tempest in sound! It’s deserved of a Top 10. I can’t think of anything better than to give it, its due respect.

 

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My daughter Natalie saw her first concert when she was 7 years old… and then her first Aerosmith show, at 18 years old. She will not soon forget, what it was like to be Professionally Rocked! As easy to forget as the Back Street Boys were, Aerosmith will be easy to remember.

Mary and I raised all our girls on every record. They know, and actually like every lyric, and they get it too. Wouldn’t that be cool, if this one was pulled out of that box down in the cellar for just one more show?… Now where’s that key?

I give you the darker side of your house. We all may have noises in our attics sometimes, but what’s lurking in your cellar?

This is; “Rats” people!

“Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is…If there are rats in a cellar, you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way, the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am…Apparently the rats of resentment and vindictiveness are always there in the cellar of my soul.”
-C.S. Lewis

 

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“2 – 4
Feelin’ cozy rats are in the cellar
Cheeks are rosy skin’s turning yellar
Loose and soggy lookin’ rather lazy
Soon my body pushin’ up the daisies…”

The first video is from ’01; My favorite
The 2nd is described as “The Coolest”…
No argument from me….

 

Number 6 – I See the World through a Different Pair of Sunglasses

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Maybe things are starting to change for the better, maybe it’s just a rouse…

Is one’s character something you’re born with?
Or is it a combination of that, and the experiences one has in life, that create what people believe in, what they “stand” for, what they are inside?

How do we start to hate? When do we start to hate?
Why do we even start to hate?

There’s that ridiculous saying again;
“We all make our own choices in life”, right?

I believe that people can change their behaviors,
but I believe that character is infinite
.

To wake up from the 70’s and even parts of the 80’s, from a drug induced fog, that left you incoherent to what was going on around you, to wake up and realize that you have a conscience, can be like emerging from total obscurity. To feel, once again, that you’re relevant, and things matter, can be a profound experience. And because of what you’ve been through, both in sobriety and intemperance, your conscience can, and often does feel the gravity, the burden of obligation. And when you have a voice that can be heard by millions, it’s often necessary to effect that obligation onto others who are willing to listen. The art though, is in the delivery.

Are you going to chastise? Are you going to judge? Are you going to reprimand the wrongs, or are you simply gonna say; “Hey; take another look from the other side of the fence”?  Try a different pair of sunglasses… You may want to call attention… But to what exactly? Is it specific? Is it something we can touch? Or do you just say; “Pay attention, it’s starts with you, it starts with me. It’s a culture, not a law. Not a religion. Not a tradition, it’s a fucking culture!”
Continue reading Number 6 – I See the World through a Different Pair of Sunglasses

Number 5 – We’re Not In Kansas Anymore…

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Maybe Because Of The Last Year I’ve Had, Maybe Because The More I Hear It, The More I Love It!
Maybe because of the year I’ve already had,  Maybe because the more I hear it, the more I love it!

This one has really climbed my list… this one right here, just goes to show how deep my appreciation is. Not just the 70s or 80s, it’s all encompassing.

As I’ve said numerous times already, when someone takes on a book, or even list like this, it’s so very difficult to even start to comprehend where each of your favorite songs should be ranked with a catalog so large. And in that huge catalogue, there are so many iconic, meaningful, and just plain cool songs.

When almost any number of the songs listed so far, could be number 1, or number 25, or any other number, on any given day, based on your mood, or mine, or just the way the sun set that night. Keep in mind, any 1 of these next 5 songs could be number 1, and you know what? They probably are, but that might get a little bit confusing saying something like; “my 5th number 1…” So with that said, let’s start with number 5.

Maybe because the older “I” get, the less sane “you” are. Or the crazier I get, the less I relate to this very methodically robotic world. Or maybe it’s just the crazier the world gets, the more I’d love to cope, but the less I’m capable of coping. Everything is a fuckin’ struggle! EVERYTHING! The more the days come, the more the new stresses come, sometimes taking the place of the one’s that I forgot I was dealing with yesterday. Sometimes they just pile on like an old game of “Kill the Guy with the Ball”, and I can’t let go of the ball…

With that, I just want to escape, I’m tired of getting killed. Whether it be having a smoke that I haven’t had in 9 years, or having another smoke that I haven’t had in 7. Or having a sniff I haven’t had in 16 years, or having the shot I had last night, or just wanting to fuckin’ get back to the real nitty gritty. The more I hear this song, the more I relate to it, on not just one level, but every fucking level!

People have often said that this is Steven’s admission of addiction, as it comes and goes throughout his life. The admission, of falling off the wagon, and getting back on it, both meanings set forth in the title and chorus of the song at the same time. Fucking Genius!… I’d have to agree, but saying that, I will never chastise the “addict’, or the “addiction”.  And with all that said, we have to remember that this truly a Mark Hudson masterpiece, more so than Steven. That’s not to say these tow long time friends and partners in crime didn’t write with each other in mind.

I may go up against the enablers, or the empty souls who cannot comprehend the sheer grasp of addiction, but also the embrace, and therefore they tend to condemn the addict, without a valid suggestion for resolution. It’s a part of who he is, It’s a part of who all of them are. Maybe some more than others, but never-the-less, who am I to judge? With their struggles though, come our own struggles. I mean if you are a deep fan of this band, as many who read these writings of mine are, we connect. It would be absurd to think we could protect them, or one of them from who they are. It’s absurd to be disappointed with someone who has bled his heart out telling us; “This is me!” You either accept a man for who he is, or you don’t.

A lot has been written about this song, as far as what people think the meaning of it is, or could be. Some of the strangest ones I’ve read say it’s about government mind control. They say that’s why there are lyrics relating to The Wizard of Oz. What do I know? Maybe it is… It’s really kind of ironic when you think about it… Reporting for Jury Duty, only to follow the “yellow” lines on the walls and floors to get to the place for someone to convince us to think the way they want us to think…

But really, the song, like the majority of Aerosmith songs ever written, has double, and maybe triple meanings. It’s about escaping reality, then wanting to escape, the escape… The Farm is fantasy and reality both. The Farm is Lake Sunapee, It’s Yosemite, It’s the Looney Bin, and Re-Hab, It’s West Marin County, and It’s The Tenderloin District, and It’s Malibu Beach… Or what the hell do I know? Maybe it’s the third meaning in the trifecta of innuendo, which is nothing more than getting back to the legendary “Long View Farm Recording Studios” to make music, rather than fall off the wagon out of boredom…

Very much in the culture of a Beatles classic, the song streams exotic and dramatic orchestral cellos and other instruments, and the just plain odd sound effects, echoes reminiscent of “The Walrus”. I realize maybe the only one person, by the name of Rose Nishikawa, will really grasp this tiny bit of trivia, but from Nine Lives, whose original name of the album was to be “Vindaloo”

I absolutely love the frenzy of this song! The almost out of tune sounds of Joe and Brad’s guitars, give the melody a sense of chaotic anxiety that explodes , and yet comes right back around with the strings symbolizing the cyclonic  spinning house the song is meant to represent. And of course, not only such lyrical freakness, uniqueness, and genius, but also capping it off with that signature Tyler-esque Primal Scream, this song screams Aerosmith!

Written by Steven and Joe, and Mark, and Steve Dudas, The song never charted. At least not until I charted it myself right here…

Trippy song right here…

“I got terminal uniqueness… (yeah)
I’m an egocentric man… (ooh yeah)
I get caught up in my freakness 
But I ain’t no Peter Pan 
A get me to the farm…”

“Buckle up straightjack 
Insanity is such a drag 
Jellybean Thorazine 
Transcendental jet lag 
Sanity I ain’t gotta 
Feeling like a pinata 
Sucker punch blow lunch 
Motherload pigeonhole 
I’m feelin’ like I’m gonna explode….”

“(Yeah)… I’m gonna shave my head
I wanna be a Hare Krishna 
(I’m gonna…) tattoo a dot right on my head 
Heh heh heh heh… 
(Huh a)… and the prozac is my fixer
(Yeah)… I am the living dead’.” 

I give you; “The Farm”.

Number 4 – Show The Man Some Respect…

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Besides, If You Haven’t Shown
The Respect By Now…
I’m Pretty Sure You’ve Blown It Upside Down…
And Now… You’re Just a Little Too Late!

When you watch these guys on stage, it’s easy to see why Joe and Steven get all the attention, and deservedly so. I mean, they are the heart of this band, right? Maybe it’s a blessing that the “LI3” are not the jealous type, and it seems to me that the other guys are absolutely comfortable with that too. The two of them, Steven & Joe that is, have an onstage “Showmanship”  “Ownership” presence that is rivaled by no one I’ve ever seen. It would also be easy for a casual fan to look at this band and believe that the LI3 might just be a little more comfortable in the shadows of the Toxic Twins. I can see how too. In comparison to the Toxic Twins, the LI-3 may even come off as subdued, but just because their individual styles of stage presence may be different than Steven and joe’s, one should not assume that they’re more passive when it comes to music. They are absolutely just as passionate as their more popular brothers in the band.

One of these guys is the very talented and hard rocking member of the L-I3, Brad Whitford. Brad has Aerosmith song credits as a Co-Writer and Lead Guitarist on such songs as “Last Child”, “Home Tonight”, “No More, No More”, “Vacation”, and “Saddle”, “Sight for Sore Eyes”, and more. In fact, Brad did most of the work on “DTL” and “Ruts”, because already checked out, if not physically, at least mentally. Even his recent work, and performances with The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and his past and present work with Whitford – St. Holmes shows real rock and roll fans just how important this guy is to this band. Continue reading Number 4 – Show The Man Some Respect…

Number 3 – Where Is That Damn Key?

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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”

Number 2 – I Just Can’t Go There With You…

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These next two songs are the reason for the season… OH wait! I got my gods, and holidays mixed up…

Since I was a very young boy, I did things differently than what my parents, siblings, and even friends expected. If everyone was cardboard sliding on their asses, I would go head first. If we had to play baseball on the blacktop, because the fields were muddy, I would still steal 2nd and actually slide (on the black top) to avoid the obvious high tag, leaving a lot of skin behind. Maybe because I was the Last Child of 9, my parents stopped trying to protect me so much… You know; 9 kids, they’ve already done all that shit so much. It probably gets a bit tiring trying to tell another one to just “stay in line”. But then, maybe it was just the age and time, maybe it’s just my god given character.

My dad would often get upset with me because I did something “stupid”. He’d say; “You don’t see your brothers and sisters doing that!”… Sometimes I felt like saying maybe something like; “That’s because nobody else in the family has a sense of adventure like I do”

Later, around the age of 12, 13, & 14 he’d say; “Mike you are so egotistical!”. I’m thinking he said these things to me, because I always felt I could do whatever I wanted to do. When others were busy saying; “Why would you want to do something like that?” I was saying; “Why not?”, and of course, I’d often respond to my dad; “Dad it’s not ego… it’s confidence.” These types of responses by the way, never really seemed to go over well. Maybe that’s why I never really had the favor from my dad that many of my siblings did, I don’t really know. Then again maybe he was just a dick. That probably sounds more harsh than it should be. I was never abused, just never really paid attention to, and then later just left alone. Very alone! Not sure that makes someone a “dick”, it may just mean they were done being a dad.

Whether I was a young child of 9 or 10, taking on the bigger waves in Oahu, and Kauai alone, rather than with my siblings on the smaller waves, or standing on the edge of the cliff at the Halona Blow Holes in Oahu, or swimming across the lagoon, just because someone said I couldn’t, or taking on the face of Homewood my first time on skis, and even “Gun Barrell” at Heavenly Valley my first visit, or any number of “stupid” things someone might dare me to do in my life, I did. Not always successful, but I would usually give it a shot.

What this did for me as a child, was to create a character trait of, not necessarily a “can do” attitude, but damn if I wouldn’t give something a try! However, like most young kids, and teenagers, we often find out the hard way what we can, and can’t do. Those lessons for me though, especially as a kid, without much supervision, and then none as a high school teenager, gave me a sense of knowing myself. While others were slowly turning into their parents, I was becoming the exact opposite. I was also realizing that I had my own ideas, my own thoughts that were often not the status quo. Don’t get me wrong, I had plenty of “peer pressure”, well maybe not “pressure”, as much as “peer, sure why not?”, but If I really didn’t want to just fall in line, I didn’t, and there wasn’t anyone around to tell me I should.

I’m not sure if I’ve always been this way, but I can remember as a kid, just doing what “I” wanted to do. And often times I got branded as arrogant, or a dick, or an asshole, or stuck-up, or “whatever” description fit the age I was, at the time. But really I think I was just busy being me. Not that any of those adjectives and descriptions are wrong, I own them all, but I also own the good ones.

I paved my own road, often without signs to show the way. I learned to question… I learned to look at things in different ways than others do. “Through a Different Pair of Sunglasses”, so to speak, and I found later in life that I don’t fit into most of the status quo, whether it’s politics, or social. I started to turn into the guy that will tell you the truth if you ask for it, and sometimes even if you don’t. The guy who will call you out if you’re fakin’ it, and the guy that will simply ask you to look at it from another view, whatever it is you’re looking at.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that; I often see the gray, in a black and white world. I look beyond the typical. I don’t buy into the guy on the radio. I ask questions of the various religions. I want to know the why’s, the where’s, the when’s. I’m not saying I need proof, or that I necessarily want to prove anything, I just want to have the discussion.

When I became a father, I made a decision as most men do, to always protect my kids. However, I decided to do it out of education and respect, not just for me and my wife, but humanity in general, but more than just that… I wanted them to have the same respect and appreciation for nature, and people. I don’t mean just the fuzzy animals, but the cliffs, gravity, water, etc. I did this because I believe, without respect and appreciation; you can not have a relationship with any of them. I never want my kids to fear me, or my neighbors, or the river, or the mountains, but rather explore each of them. And with that, to always have a sense of adventure with responsibility. I also never, ever, ever wanted to lose my memory and memories of being a kid. If there’s one thing I’ve mastered in life it’s that!

There are many, many parents in life who strive to be their kid’s best friend, and then struggle with the responsibilities that come with being a parent. I say to those people; “try trust first.” Mary has taught me more than anyone else in this department, and for that I’m so grateful. It took awhile. While I was busy trusting the neighborhood, I didn’t start off trusting my own kids. I’m so happy that she has had the patience, and forethought that I lacked in the early years. Now, I couldn’t imagine not trusting them. And although I think my daughters are my friends, and I truly have a great time with them, I am not so naive or arrogant, to want, or even think that I am their best friend. I am their dad, pure and simple. But more than any of that gibberish, I found that it’s more important to just be “family” rather than friends.

I’ve taken a long way around, to tell you about my number 2, number 1 song. This song goes all the way back to my Step Brother, Ronnie’s apartment. This is one of the original 5, and it stays with me today at the top. This song is me, every verse! Although it may be written about a relationship gone bad, I see it as my relationship with society, main stream religion, and many other things in general. I’m not saying this is a good thing, I’m just sayin’ it is. I’m not sayin’ I’m a rebel. I’m saying I’m naturally rebellious. I’m just sayin, it’s hard for me to just “do” as others do. And with that comes so much social confusion in today’s age. Conversations, whether they be political, or religious, people often expect me to fit in one box or another… it just doesn’t work that way, ever! And believe me, sometimes I wish I could. Sure seems like it would be easier than pissing so many people off as I do, because of their frustration in difference.

Change the term “lady” to society, or politics, or organized religion, or education, or rules, etc. take your pick, even pick another, and you’ll see my point. It’s about how people will turn on you for a dime. I met a friend Frank about a year ago, while visiting some ancient High School buddies, and something he said to me made this just as clear as the 1st day that I realized it. I’m paraphrasing here; “people will give you to the dogs, just to save their own skin”. I have a saying in life; “I didn’t throw you under the bus, you crawled under there yourself, and the bus has to go!”

However, if we’re both under there, when the bus is leaving… we should at least try to help each other out, rather than using each other as a kick off point.

“There’s nothin’ over here I never showed ya…”; This is me, what you see is what you get, don’t go lookin’ for something else! It’s funny to me, that it’s often the guy who speaks up; who is said to have a bad attitude, but it usually comes from somewhere, or someone else in my experience. Maybe that’s what they mean by the “meek’ will inherit the earth. Because I ain’t inheriting nothin’!

The song is about attitude, but its attitude from experience… It’s a chip on a shoulder, not to be knocked off, but to be carried around as a souvenir to remind him of getting out from under the rock. It’s an attitude that says; “I can see you, and your type comin’ a mile away… Do whatever the F*** you want, nobody gives a shit anyway! And if they do, they’re lyin’, Just don’t expect me to lap it up!”

One of my closest friends in life, Kevin Douglas often jokes around with me and says; they name streets after me, in every city in the country “One Way”. I know it’s a joke, he’s said this since we were teenagers, but damned if I don’t resemble that remark. It’s not that I’m the One Way Street though, it’s that I have an incessant desire to go the other way… life of a contrarian, maybe… I don’t know. But I’m thinking it’s more of a desire to just be me.

Love Brad’s solo on this one, but this is one of those dueling “Lead Guitar” songs, that Joe was looking for from the moment he was good with two guitarists in the band. The song is only played once or twice per tour, it’s that much of a gem. It’s truly something special. I’ve been lucky enough to see it once in my life, and it was worth living for, maybe lightning can strike twice, but I won’t hold my breath.

This one is close people… Look at it from the other side of the title, sometimes you just gotta go the other way…

“Hey look a yonder what’s that I see
Ain’t that old bogus honey comin’ after me
I thought’cha told her I was outta town
I wonder how she knowed I was hangin’ around

Say listen baby don’t go wastin’ yo time
You keep a comin’ round you’ll hear the same old line
You got a thousand boys you say you need’em
You take what’s good for you and I’ll take my freedom…”

“Uuhh… there’s nothin’ over here I never showed ya
I made it pretty clear I’m glad to know ya
You know your brother spike he’s on the level
But’choo always lookin’ like your mad at the devil
Don’t say I cop a ‘tude it’s all forgotten
It’s just you’re much too rude your fruits are rotten…”

This is; “One way Street”

Number 1 – Sometimes We Get a 2nd Chance, The Trick Is to Know The Difference…

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Everyone has a favorite song in their lifetime…

Everyone has their own reasons for that song too. Sure it can change day in, day out, and even get replaced with something new over the years, but there’s always something about that song. It always comes back. It always surfaces. It speaks to you. It gets inside you.

Sometimes someone comes along and even tries to cover it, and sometimes it comes close… But rarely is it ever better. This particular band has done that often in their career, they’ve taken a song, and done it so well, that they’ve made it their own.

A version of this interpretation was handed to Joe, in an envelope at his book signing inside “The Passage” Book Store, at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, October 18, 2014. I like to think he read it….

It’s funny when we look back on some of the old time favorites the band has done. Certain covers come to mind. I was actually talking to my new landlord just before Mary and embarked on what would be the culmination of this book. Francie apparently is a pretty big Aero fan herself. Imagine that! We were talking about mine and Mary’s trip to Tahoe for the culmination of this thing I’ve been writing. The concert on July 3rd. 2015 at Harvey’s South Lake Tahoe. Fran was telling me how much she would love to go. I really tried to get her, and her husband Pat, to come along and get tickets there! As hard as I tried, I just wasn’t successful. Man that would have been a lot of fun though…

Fran told me of her favorite Aerosmith song, “Come Together”. Aerosmith’s cover, not the Beatles’ version. She went on about how she just loves them, especially when they do that song! I’ve heard others say the same for Big 10 Inch, Train, Walkin’ the Dog, Baby Please don’t Go, and others that they’ve covered over time. The key is that they took songs and not only Aerosmith-ized them up, but made them their own. They kept the respect for the song the way it was, but they put their own signature on them, and actually made them better.

It’s more than just a favorite song though… Everyone has at least one song that they can relate to. A song that invokes their spirit, touches their soul. Sometimes the lyrics mean something, sometimes they don’t mean anything at all. Sometimes it’s just the music, sometimes it’s a combination of the two. Whether it’s a Stairway to Heaven, or Sweet Home Alabama, or Sympathy for the Devil, or Dream On, or countless others, these favorites are often a peek into the listener’s character. Is that person truly “Free as a bird”? Or do they just want to be? Did that person truly “Dream until his dreams came true”? Or is she just a dreamer? I’m not sure the answer really matters. The key is that a group of musicians created a piece of art, and with that art, they connected with “somebody” or a bunch of somebodies, whom they will probably never meet, but they gave a substance to that person’s character. Sometimes it’s difficult to even put that substance into words of description. It’s easier to just feel it. That’s when, as a musician, you know you’re successful. Did you leave an impact? Did you leave a mark? Did your creation matter?

These guys mattered…

Sometimes in life there are alternate endings. Sometimes we even get to choose them, like in the way of a DVD rental, or a different path ‘up’, or‘down’ the mountain. Or, how we might wish to change for the better as we get older, or for the worse… Or, how we decide that the path we’re on isn’t the right path, and if we continue in that direction, the ending could be tragic, or and in no way am I trivializing such a loss of extreme impact, but when someone so loved by all, is on a path to live a complete and long life, respected and cherished by so many, but then decides to alter that path, by ending it in a tragic way. R.I.P. Robin Williams.

I believe wholeheartedly in destiny. But I believe destinies are optional, yet still specific to the individual. I believe in predestined occurrences. I believe in karma. I believe that we learn from where we’ve been, although where we’ve been was destined. Where we go from there, is a matter of weight. To choose what we have learned as a tool, or simply a memory. But I don’t believe we have a guide, although there are plenty of “guides” (hello Theresa!) that we meet in life. The trick is to recognize them when they’re there, and recognize who, or what the distractions are. I feel that we usually meet our destiny; it’s just that some reach it earlier than others. I am not saying that there’s no trying to change your direction, but I am saying that each of us is given a series of paths, options, opportunities, in life that are specific to his or her possible destinies, and that we don’t all get the same choices.

We need to do the best we can, with the choices we are given. It is truly a gift, for some who recognize, that they are on the verge of two destinies, one tragic, one triumphant. Then to have the where-with-all, the good fortune, to recognize it and make the right decision… Wow!

This song represents, for me, an “Alternate Ending” to my Top 100. It represents the beginning, without direction. A beginning with the whole world in front of them. A beginning with so many paths to choose from, unknowing where each will lead, and then…. And then, the “Alternate Ending” which, represents a look back to who you are, who they were. To reach deep inside and touch the root, but to change it, to fine tune the good parts, and discard the bad.

This song is transformation from young to old, from inexperienced to experienced, from unknowing to wise.

This song is my #1. It still tells you to be true to yourself, it still tells you to hold your home close to the vest. It still tells you not to let those who will do you harm, too close. It tells you to stay focused, and you’ll arrive to your destination. But it’s a journey getting there. So, if you need to pick up and go, just to stay home, then c’est la vie… But it also tells you to notice what needs to be fine tuned along the way.

This song has impacted me on a level I can’t describe. I can’t really tell you if it’s the lyrics, or the energy I feel from the raw, bloozy, almost bluegrass, but not bluegrass, feel of the music that gets inside me the way it does, but it does go deep. This is just a couple of guys reaching down deep inside of themselves, and finding a sound that would define the unique quality of who they are. It’s a mixture of other influences rolled into one. It’s got the deep, and delayed, at times, groove and feel of the blues. It’s got the rough edge of a new American Rock and Roll band, blended with the sleek polish of the British Invasion. It’s got a touch of that Muscle Shoals feel, like a southern vibe. Two guys just writing a song, no damn clue how good they are gonna’ be. One guy comes off as real serious, but really just wants to have fun. The other guy, who always comes off like he just wants to have fun, is absolutely serious. Opposites attract, right?

They sat down on the edge of a bed to jam and write a song. What comes out of it is a sound, no not just a sound, but a feeling, a character that I’d never heard before, and I’ve never heard since.

Now even better… Can you cover your own song and keep its purity, yet make it better? Sure you can, but It Has to Be Better! If you create something that is somehow “less than”, you not only didn’t succeed, but you also possibly displace, and trivialize the original. In my opinion, they not only accomplished what they set out to do with this cover of their own song, but they immortalized the song in this rendition…

Each song written leaves its own impression on the listener. We can all, as you’ve seen me do over the last 100+ songs, come up with our own meanings, our own interpretations, our own connections. I’m not positive any of mine are absolute truth, but I’m real sure I’m close. And if I’m not, well… they work for me, and I hope they’ve worked for everyone who has spent the time to read my rantings, of nothing more than a band, and their songs.

Funny how so often my life parallels the songs these guys wrote. If I didn’t know the truth, I’d say I know these guys well. Truth is, I’m just an old kid who liked a band, maybe more than some would say is healthy. But as you have read, these guys wrote “The Handbook”, I just tried to pay attention. It’s ironic, in such a non surprising way, that while I wrote this, I was once again was packing the pick up truck, as I’ve done no less than 35 times in my life, and actually moved as many times as I am years old. Each time getting further away… Not always by choice, not always by lack of choice… But this time literally right on the very edge of town.

I’ve given you all a peek into their lives and mine, and how they have intersected at times. Maybe it’ll become a book someday.

Then again…

But I want to say thanks to everyone who took the time to read these, with some special thanks to Natalya for allowing me an International Forum to just write. I also want to thank Kary, and Karen, and Jamie, and Rose, and Johnny, and Wanda, and Kim, for allowing me to publish these in their fantastic, and maybe the best FB Group site out there, We AeroNuts Love Aerosmith.  I also want to say thanks again to my wife Mary, and my daughter Natalie, for putting up with my constant typing… It’s over. And last, to all my other friends who have indulged me with their patience over the years.

Yesterday I gave you a song that I related to as the blood that flows through my veins, the air that I breathe… Today, in this version, in this form, This song defines my spirit, it defines my soul… It’s the same sound, the same banging on Joey’s drums, the same delicate, and yet driving guitars, the same lyrical symphony that Steven sings into my ears, as I get when I’m chasing waterfalls in Yosemite, and other parts of the Sierras… This is my number 1.  I hope you like it.

It was a fantastic show! How could ity not be? They’re just that good!…

The following is a video I made of my Number 1.
Remember; sometimes you can choose an alternate ending… Next week, it could all change…

“Level with God and you’re in tune with the universe
Talk with yourself and you’ll hear what’choo wanna know
Gotta rise above ’cause below it’s only gettin’ worse
Life in time will take you where you wanna go…”

This is; “Movin’ Out” Alternate Version

A Night in Heavenly Valley July 3rd, 2015

July 2nd 2015

Upon checking into our room at the Station House Inn, in South lake Tahoe, we truly found that this little 3 day/2 night ride was in need to be savored, every little sip, like a cold Pyramid Beer on a Hot Summer’s day. The room was awesome! Small, but definitely a few stars more than Mary and I are used too. A welcome sight for sure… And a hot summer’s day it was, with unusually high temps for Tahoe in the high 80s & low 90s, guess I won’t need my Aero Sweatshirt tomorrow night… Continue reading A Night in Heavenly Valley July 3rd, 2015

The meaning behind the pictures…

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The following is a letter I handed to Joe, along with a few other writings… The discussion you see the pics, is this letter…

October 16th, 2014

Joe;

I hope you don’t mind…
I’m sure you get millions of people who just want your attention for a bit, and that’s hard. Yeah, I’m a huge fan, but I also have tremendous respect for your privacy, and private life. I don’t want to take superficial time for my own joy. So with that said, I just wanted to give you a few things. Keep them, share them, toss them, whatever you wish, I just ask if you wouldn’t mind taking a look.

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The picture is from a hiking trip that my, 17 year old daughter, Natalie and I took this summer, just outside of Yosemite. It’s close to where we live. We do these things a lot. The point of the picture is the lyrics on it. At one time in my early life, these lyrics meant exactly what they were written about. Now later in life though, they mean something entirely different… I can appreciate where you’ve been, and better… where you’ve been since.
Continue reading The meaning behind the pictures…