DOES THE NOISE IN MY HEAD BOTHER YOU?
Steven Tyler - Does the noise in my head bother you? Well maybe a little...
You know that old adage that says never meet your heroes? Well I used to think that it wasn’t true. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet a few of mine over the years, but my closest call with Mr Tyler was getting someone to get him to sign something for me at MGM Grand a couple of years back. Now that I’ve read the book I have to say I’m pretty non-plussed. Maybe my expectations were too high?
You see there is nothing really wrong with it, it’s nicely enough written, despite a few lapses into ‘train of thought’ territory that don’t quite sit too comfortably with the rest of the narrative. I guess I just expected more, but then again that’s probably just because I’m too close. I knew a lot about Aerosmith before I read this and to be honest aside from a few snippets here and there, nothing really added to that. I was hoping for some wild stories from the road in the mid seventies, some real dirty tales of excess, but I guess the drugs robed us of what might have been very entertaining. I was also hoping to get more of a look at the Perry-less Aerosmith era but again there’s really little Tyler can recall about that time (I’m actually a huge ‘Rock in a Hard Place’ fan) or hey maybe he didn’t think it was that interesting?
So Aerosmith aside what do we get to learn about Steven? Well to me perhaps the most interesting chapters of the book are the early ones and there’s a lot (but again not a lot new) about his childhood and Sunapee and his first bands. There’s a real reverence in these pages for these times and it’s interesting to read and feel the change in tone when the Aerosmith chapters roll in. Most striking of all I found was the real resentment and antagonism there is almost from day one with the rest of the band. It’s clear that he and Joe just don’t get along from the off and there’s a lot of finger pointing. Indeed perhaps one of the most endearing and disappointing things is the way Steven blames everyone else for the situation rather than just accept that he has his faults, they have theirs and that he and the rest of the band are obviously very different people!
With over half the book dedicated to the band up until the break-up that preceded Rock in a Hard Place (p229) there’s virtually nothing about ‘Rock’ and even less about ‘Done With Mirrors’ their come-back album, even ‘Permanent Vacation’ the real return to form is pretty much skipped over.
Want to read about ‘Pump’ the album that took them back to the top? You’d be hard pressed to find much and little more about ‘Get a Grip’ either. Basically if you are looking for stories about the making of the later albums forget about it, it’s not really there, you do get the odd snippet of where some of the lyrics came from but there are more gripes about Joe and the rest of the band than there is about the actual making of the albums. After ‘Just push Play’ we lose years 2001 ends and 2006 begins on the same page!
Then there’s Tim Collins who gets a real good working over and a great chunk of the dialogue, a real lot of anger and resentment to wade through. Then there’s the second wife leaving, the back, the knee, the feet and the prescription meds and finally the drug relapse in 2007 after years of sobriety. It actually makes you wonder how much the lack of anything in here between the years of 2001 and 2007 contributed to that.
By 2008 Steven is out of rehab for prescription meds and seeing and smelling the world again. By that summer his mother dies and with her passing his sobriety goes out of the window again. He’s self medicating and justifying it to himself again (because of the pain or because of the band) and this carries on into the ZZ Top tour I saw the band on in 2009. Then there’s the fall from the stage in Sturgis and you can feel the bitter resentment boil up again. Not one of the band speaks to him for “twenty seven weeks” after he falls off the stage and it of course their fault, again there’s no acceptance that he might have fucked up, that they might be angry and to be honest the atmosphere is obviously so fucked up anyway why would they. You now when people don’t call you and you don’t call them; and each party just blames each other? Someone just fucking call, it’s a two way street Steven!
Then of course the band starts looking for singers ‘behind Stevens back’ hell didn’t he read the press? Didn’t we all hear about that? Some of the throw away lines too don’t quite ring true like when he casually slips in that he’s been trying to get the band to record new stuff for 4 years just before this revelation whilst not even covering those years in passing in the book. We’ll never know! I guess we’ll just get another side of the multi-faceted story when Joe Perry puts pen to paper – though you suspect by this stage that he’d not write a book just to spite Steven!
Then there’s the Joe Perry Irving Plaza show where Steven jumps on stage, but out of spite not reconciliation! Then more rehab after another taste of coke and it’s 2010, Steven asks forgiveness of the band and the tour is kick ass (They were amazing in Vegas where I was lucky enough to catch them). Sadly he’s all too quick to point out that someone in the band is still using – rise above it Steven, enough of the “I did it but they’re as bad” finger pointing it’s getting old! Then it’s the ‘back-up plan’ American Idol, now think of that what you will, I know what I think and I’ll keep that to myself. Let’s just say it’s sad that a lot of the decisions and reactions in these later years seem to have the dollar looming ever larger all the time...
As much as I love Aerosmith and as much as I love Steven Tyler I’m not entirely sure what to make of this. Like I said it’s well enough written, but it doesn’t tell me about the things I wanted to hear. What it does do however, even more than Joey’s book from last year, is open up the lid on the dysfunctional, fucked up family that is Aerosmith. It shows that no matter who you are and what sort of a life you’ve led and lead, life can still pretty much be a mess of petty jealousies and resentments and feuds and hissy fits, the same as it is for millions of people out there who aren’t in the greatest Rock and roll band to ever walk the earth!
Don’t get me wrong there are moments of real joy and lightness in here but they are sadly weighed down by the pain and animosity, you also don’t get the sense of healing that was so prevalent in Joey’s book, but there’s a glimpse in the last two pages.
Time to let it go Steven, you’ve climbed the mountain, it’s time to enjoy the view rather than bitch about all the fucks that put boulders in your path.
An interview with ST is still of course and always will be top of my unattainable bucket list!
By Mark Diggins