Back in the summer of 1995, I was working a summer job in the environmental engineering department of a now-departed major factory of the General Motors family. I was working there as an intern to learn how businesses balance economic and environmental concerns where making decisions. Sometime in June, I got a call from my first school’s athletic director saying he had heard that I had been a pretty good runner in high school and asked me to coach both the boys’ and girls’ cross country teams. The school had dropped the sport back in the late 70s and wanted to offer it again. [If the truth be told, his daughter, one of the greatest athletes in that school’s history wanted a cross country team. Hmmm…]
Anyway, I was willing to coach anything in an effect to prove that I was a good coach and deserved to coach at a higher level in the boys’ basketball program than at the sixth grade level. Well, in a single word, we were awful that year. But, by the end of my third year, we were close to becoming an elite team in the area. So, in an effort I joined the boys’ track coaching staff as an assistant the following spring. I was only an assistant for a year, but I had found a sport for which I had a coaching flair.
From the moment I became an assistant, and then the head coach for two years there, I noticed that the track team would take on my competitive nature. These guys wanted to win so badly that fights would break out a couple of times a week between teammates over winning during workouts. But, the biggest competitor I ever coached was a high jumper at that school. At one meet, he was attempting to break the school record of 6’6″ by attempting 6’7″. On his first attempt, he jumped into the crossbar, knocking the bar off and landing awkwardly off the landing mats. When he got up, we noticed he had separated his shoulder. Instead of letting the trainer look at him, this young man popped his shoulder back in place, measured his next jump, and proceeded to clear the bar, setting a new school record.
This young man went on to become my first All-State athlete as he placed fifth in the state in the high jump. The best thing about this athlete was that when he went to accept his medal at the award platform, and knowing that his image would be broadcast on the big screen in the stadium (and possibly on TV too!), he, being the biggest Aerosmith fan I have ever known, wore his big Aerosmith necklace on the awards platform. As he was having his award placed around his neck, you could see that damn Aerosmith necklace around his neck.
So, Curt, I know you have been complaining about my avoiding Aerosmith on this blog. So, in honor of your All-State performance back during the 1998 season, almost twenty years ago, I present My 20 Favorite Aerosmith Songs! By the way, long live the 70s version of Aerosmith.
20. “Draw the Line” (1977). The title song from the disappointing 1977 album was one of two songs worth playing.
19. “Dude (Looks like a Lady)” (1987). Aerosmith kept the momentum going with this song after Run-DMC helped make the band cool again.
18. “Mama Kin” (1973). This song comes from their debut album and continues to be a rocking song in concert.
17. “Seasons of Wither” (1974). Another concert favorite since being released on the band’s sophomore LP.
16. “Chip Away the Stone” (1978). A long-time concert staple was never included on an album until the band included it on their drug-hazed live album. This is the only song on that album worth hearing.
15. “Back in the Saddle” (1976). This song comes from what is arguably Aerosmith’s greatest album, Rocks. 1976 was an awesome year for music, if only for this album, KISS Destroyer and Ramones’ self-titled debut album.
14. “Pink” (1997). Now, I am not too big of a fan of Aerosmith’s second go-around but I am a sucker for songs built around double entendres.
13. “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” (1998). The big sell-out song became the band’s only number one hit on Billboard‘s Hot 100. Still, Steven Tyler sings the hell out of the song.
12. “Jaded” (2001). This song reminds me of going with my boys to see Aerosmith in concert. This song would have made a great Cheap Trick song.
11. “Come Together” (1978). This song, along with Earth, Wind & Fire’s cover of “Got to Get You Into My Life”, is the only song worth hearing on the disastrous Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Soundtrack album. That album and movie killed quite a few careers (poor Peter Frampton!).
10. “Love in an Elevator” (1989). The first song from the band’s greatest album of the second part of their career was a fun song, no matter how tired I got of hearing the song.
9. “Livin’ on the Edge” (1993). I loved the intro to the song, which is what got the song ranked higher than it should have.
8. “Big Ten Inch Record” (1975). Aerosmith was so cool in the mid-70s that they could cover this blues song and keep it from sounding like a Dr. Demento song.
7. Train Kept A Rollin'” (1974). Sure, this is the Yardbirds’ arrangement, but Aerosmith made it sound heavier AND funkier.
6. “Janie’s Got a Gun” (1989). Wait a second! Aerosmith is tackling a sociological issue? And, they did it with grace and respect. This is a great song.
5. “Last Child” (1976). Here’s the “hit” from the Rocks album. Maybe Toys in the Attic is the better album? Regardless, this remains a very cool song in my book.
4. “Sweet Emotion” (1975). Believe it or not, this was the song that pulled me into the Aerosmith world as a young teen. This song was used to terrific effect in the great movie Dazed & Confused.
3. “What It Takes” (1990). This song became a classic to me when I heard the lyrics, “There goes my old girlfriend; there’s another diamond ring.” At the time, a friend of mine had just had a third girl break off an engagement with him.
2. “Dream On” (1976). So, this song is on the band’s 1973 debut album Aerosmith. For some reason, it did not connect. But, when it was re-released in 1976, this song became the make-out song of a generation of kids who were awkwardly slow-dancing to the song at school dances.
1. “Walk This Way” (1975). Are you kidding?!?! Like it could be any other song, right Curt? None of knew how influential this song would become a decade or so later when Run-DMC dropped their version on an unsuspecting world. Two versions of the same song blowing the minds of the same generation of people.
Since we are nearing Independence Day, my apologies to my British friends, but I had to start honoring some of the greatest American bands of all-time. Cheers!