Travel Writing by Cory Hanson

Writing Music: Aerosmith

This is part of an ongoing series of discovering and reviewing heavy metal bands in the order in which they appear in The Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal by Daniel Bukszpan. Check out the rest of the series and stay tuned for new reviews each week. Until I finish this book, stay heavy, my friends.

Another massive, mainstream, marginal metal band has appeared: Aerosmith. Rather than provide a comprehensive review of the body of work of a band with six decades of music, I’ll be hoping sharing some of my own experiences with the albatross that is Aerosmith.

The Band

Trivia time! The first two compact discs I owned came to me on the same day: Christmas of 19XX. I remember unwrapping the square package and pulling out Nirvana’s Nevermind (1991) and Aerosmith’s Get a Grip (1993). Many fans would say that these two albums have very little in common besides both being released in the early 90s and both on the Geffen label. If the syrupy lens of nostalgia didn’t taint my objectivity, I’d probably agree.

But it does, so here we go with some of my favorites from the album that introduced my generation to these venerable jammers, and introduced me to kick-butt mainstream rock.

Before we get to the Alicia Silverstone trio — “Crazy,” “Cryin’,” and “Amazing” — let’s hit two of the hardest rockin’ ‘Smith songs ever…according to eight-year-old me.

Man, what a rush. Imagine the titters and giggles coming out of my childhood bedroom as I played for my middle-school friends the line, “Sex is like a gun / You aim, you shoot, you run!”

[To get a grip on your own copy of this 90s staple and support this project, check it out on Amazon here.]

This album landed in my lap just as MTV began beaming into my living room. If the adolescent innuendo in “Shut Up and Dance” gave me the giggles, think about the awakenings I experienced with “I know you ain’t wearin’ nothin’ underneath that overcoat” — a line that got me in trouble in music class during a love song show-and-tell session — especially as a young Ms. Silverstone was disrobing in a convertible on my 13-inch TV.

“HE SPIT ON TV!? THAT’S SO ROCK AND ROLL! Also, that pre-Clueless Silverstone person is showing a lot of skin. I think I like music now.”

These were my first impressions when “Cryin'” premiered on MTV. I couldn’t imagine life getting any better at that moment. The song was pretty good, too — it made the cut on several of the recorded-from-radio mixtapes that circulated among my friends.

The future of technology was big in the early 90s; visions of the Bradburyesque dystopia of the 50s gave way to a (much more accurate) projection of the influence of computers on our daily lives. “Amazing” drives this point home with a startlingly spot-on exploration of a lonely young man throwing himself into a world of webcams and virtual reality — although I’m pretty sure modern VR units don’t flash a “CYBERSPACE ENTERED” prompt on startup. Continuing the Silverstone Extended Universe continuity, this young fan seems to be infatuated with Alicia’s character from the “Crazy” and Cryin'” videos. (And who wouldn’t be?)

The Bottom Line

Whatever your age, there probably is a stage of Aerosmith’s career that is special to you. (Heaven help you if it’s the “Pink” era. “I wanna wrap you in rubber?” Gross.) For those who haven’t spun the ‘Smith for a while, I’d strongly recommend dusting off your collection and taking a ride on the nostalgia train.

From all of us here, to all of you out there, wherever you are. Remember, the light at the end of the tunnel could be you. Good night!

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