Aerosmith: a remembrance from my teenage years

One of my favorite bands is Aerosmith, but in the early 1980s I didn’t know it. I was happily listening to songs like “Walk This Way” and “Dream On” and “Back in the Saddle” long before I knew that it was Aerosmith. My sister was doing everything she could to broaden my mind to include music that wasn’t Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, Toto, or Gloria Estefan, and Aerosmith was one of the bands I half listened to as we were washing dishes after dinner every night. But I didn’t hit my stride into hard rock and metal until after a certain video came out on MTV: the 1986 Run DMC cover of “Walk This Way.”

It wasn’t until then that I realized just how much I liked the song, that it was Aerosmith who was singing it, and that I did not, in fact, actually like the Run DMC cover all that much.

But at the tender age of 13, that video whisked me off to Oz and paved my yellow brick road with albums ranging from Def Leppard to Pearl Jam, from Midnight Oil to Suzanne Vega, from Jethro Tull to Depeche Mode.

And partly because of Run DMC’s cover, Aerosmith’s career has been long and varied and fun, if not necessarily sublime.

That said, however, Aerosmith has done at least one truly sublime song and performance. The first time I watched the video on MTV, it pinned me to my chair. I remember, when it was over, not feeling like I’d even taken a breath through the whole thing. Even now it still pins me to my chair when I hear it. Enjoy.

As an aside, Run DMC is being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame tomorrow. I don’t know or really care whether a rap group really belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but if they hadn’t been featured on NPR this morning I probably wouldn’t have remembered this.