April 13, 1993 is declared “Aerosmith Day”

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inMaybe Aerosmith Day isn’t exactly a national holiday, but for some fans, it should be. At any rate, music history was made in 1993 when April 13 was declared “Aerosmith Day.” More than 20 years later, a retrospective into the style and sound of the band’s most interesting songs from the 1970s.

“Chip Away the Stone” by Aerosmith

I can remember this song from the early days of MTV. But the song itself is from the 1978 album, “Live! Bootleg.” It was the only single used to support the release. However, in certain small- and medium-sized markets, the song didn’t receive much (or any) radio airplay.

One of the noticeable aspects of the song is its varying dynamics. The moody verses find singer Steven Tyler describing the actions and demeanor of a woman who is not reciprocating interest. A mid-tempo blues rock soundscape plays behind the lyrics. Toward the end of the verse, the narrator declares his intent to “chip the stone away.” This provides an opportunity for the song to ramp up into its raucous chorus, sounding very much like a victory song of sorts, declaring that the stone will be chipped away, and “I won’t stop until your love is my very own.”

It is sweet and obnoxious at once and puts a spin on the bad boy approach to rock ‘n’ roll love songs. The blues-rock stylings never really change, except in terms of speed. The vocals also change, and when the singing changes pace, it mimics the real-life excitement of a man in that situation.

“Dream On” by Aerosmith

Probably the first Aerosmith song that anyone outside of Boston has ever heard. The track is such a staple of classic rock radio stations that something seems off if it isn’t played. There are elements of “Dream On” that mark the song as unique. One thing is the pathos. The other things that make it special are the vocal and guitar performance notes.

There is a piano motif that underscores the verses that is classic now. The notes climb as the lyrics’ sadness unfold. A narrator is remarking on the passage of time. Here, Tyler unleashes powerhouse vocals that make the song challenging to sing by amateurs in karaoke bars and bathrooms. Seriously, the high notes that pierce the endings of the chorus are notable in that they are not the expanded syllables of a particular word, but they are heartfelt expressions.

A note, too, should be made about the song’s construction. The song builds on the strength of five verses, the last two almost mimic each other. After the verses, the simple chorus, “Dream on, dream on, dream until your dream comes true…” It is at the end of one of the “dream on” phrases that the high-pitched notes appear.

In some ways, “Dream On” is iconic because of the ways it speaks to the essence of the human experience. That it is a rock song that accomplishes that expressive task makes it all the more surprising.

“Lord of the Thighs” by Aerosmith

Unlike some of Aerosmith’s other songs, the meaning in this track from 1974 is not too deep. For those who like wordplay and debauchery combined, “Lord of the Thighs” is perhaps the perfect rock ‘n’ roll song. The song also derives its title from the classic novel, “Lord of the Flies.”

So at once, the song is clever, but respects its rock ‘n’ roll ethos. As the track plays, it is clear that it is also an example of rock ‘n’ roll bravado. Lines such as “I was down to socialize/when you caught my eyes,” and “you must of come here to find it…” all denote a narrator who is both drawn to the object of his affection and secure in his ability to attract a woman.

The song itself is a midtempo, sultry kind of rock song. But given the title and the approach taken to picking up women as described in the song, it is easy not to take the tune too seriously.

The songs mentioned here are only a few of the songs that make Aerosmith’s catalog worthy of exploration. The band is also known for its rock and rap mash-up with Run D.M.C. in the mid-1980s, and the band shifted styles again with “Love In an Elevator,” “Jamie’s Got a Gun,” before changing things up again in the late 1990s.

After more than 40 years as a successful rock band, Aerosmith has carved their place in rock ‘n’ roll history by being one of the best-selling music groups as determined by Billboard and Soundscan.

From even a surface view of the band’s catalog, it is clear that the music Aerosmith creates is worthy of a city’s (perhaps a country’s) celebration.

 

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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