Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Living to Tell the Tale: Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?
Some years ago, I attended an Aerosmith concert in Portland, Oregon. The band was in fabulous form, punching out their greatest hits with a sound and fury that was explosive: two hours of ear-numbing party insanity, ending with three solid encores of heightened hysteria. Phew! Frontman and lead-singer, Steven Tyler, by then crowned the modern-day Mick Jagger, strutted and swaggered his rouge-faced, glitter-laden body across a dazzling mega-stage, rock super-showman singing and screaming as only he can do. I met Steven shortly after the show, shook his hand and thanked him for an extraordinary concert. His response came as a surprise. With warmth and gentle humility, he quietly thanked me, patiently shaking my hand. We chatted for a few brief moments. I found him gracious and soft-spoken, genuine and kind, something I would never have expected based on his public and stage persona.
Now, fifteen years later comes Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir by Steven Tyler. Tyler serves up his philosophy, poetry, history, anecdotes, advice, and stories – great stories! – all wildly spinning on the revolving disc of the music business. Want to know what it's like to be a rock star? What it's like to be on stage? What it's like behind the curtain? In the studio? He tells you … in his unique way of connecting a cacophony of thoughts that spill and jangle and twist and turn and take you places far and unknown, sometimes all in one sentence. But that is what makes this read such a fun ride. And if there is no word to describe what he's telling, he just invents a new word! Brilliant!
We learn of his early summers in New Hampshire as "Nature Boy," life in the Bronx with his "hippie" mother and Juilliard-trained, classical-pianist father, his sojourns to Greenwich Village as a teenager, and the bumpy musical expeditions, manifestations, disappointments, and developments all along the way. Tyler speaks freely and his language is loose, as you might expect. He holds nothing back – in what he thinks of others, but also what he thinks of himself. Both good and bad.
Later, we learn of Tyler's experience of Aerosmith and life on the road: the drugs, the sex, the music, the arrests, addictions and rehabs, and their subsequent toll on his marriages and personal life. Tyler tells it all with refreshing candor yet with no apology. He also explains how these experiences transposed into specific lyrics and songs. Tyler shares stories of his rocky relationships with Joe Perry and the other band members, including concerts they performed while not speaking to each other. There are many juicy tidbits and details for the dedicated fan, but Tyler's memoir also offers a wider perspective and reflections on an unusual life, with lessons drawn from such a colorful and topsy-turvy journey.
Anyone who has seen Steven Tyler as a judge on "American Idol" may have observed that he has grown into a more generous, kindhearted, and gentle being with age, while maintaining his zany sense of humor and outrageous ways of expressing himself. I'd say this was Steven Tyler all along, but we’re just now getting to know him.