Long-time readers will remember–
No, they won’t. Our long-time readers aren’t great with short-term memory. Our long-time readers are either coming from or going to rehab. Or currently in rehab, in which case: take care of yourself and try not to fall asleep during the meetings.
–that TotD’s true love, passion, obsession, fetish has always been the Rock Book, in all of its forms.
You have the Cultural History, that puts the band and its music into some sort of perspective with the times and is usually pretty well researched and clean-cut and doesn’t mention the incident in Idaho with that softball team from the School for the Deaf. Think Long, Strange Trip.
There is the Oral History, increasingly popular nowadays due to its authenticity or something, which reached its zenith with Legs McNeil’s awesome and salacious and at least 30% true Please Kill Me. Motley Crue also did one of these, partially because three-fourths of the band are functionally illiterate and the other quarter is Mick Mars and no one has ever cared about Mick Mars.
A smaller category is the Book Actually Written By A Person. Phil’s book belongs here, as does–for better or worse–Rock Scully’s. Neil Peart wrote a couple decent ones about that time his family died and he lost his mind and had to ride his motorcycle chasing after it for a few years.
The best, though, is the Dictated Memoir. You can see this one coming from the “and David Ritz” or “as told to Larry Sloman” on the cover, in the most inconspicuous type the publishers can get away with. Here’s how they work: a rock star rehashes the same stories he’s (it’s always a he) been telling for two decades, a Jew types it up, an intern spell-checks it, profit. Just that simple.
At best, they’re amusing reminders of a time when society collectively decided that young men with great hair and the ability to play the guitar should be allowed to do whatever they wanted all the time; at worst, they’re lazy cash-grabs. What they always are, though, is a completely self-awareness-free zone. Windows into the skulls of me who have not been criticized since their late teens.
They have all taken up flying.
The latest entry into my library is Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith by Joe Perry. (Well, “by” Joe Perry. David Ritz sat at the computer.) As always, I have neither patience nor interest in any sort of review, but I did need to share some things with you, so TotD presents Out-of-Context Joe Perry Quotes!*
* All of these quotes are from the book, word-for-word. This isn’t some bullshit list I made up where they get progressively sillier and start arguing with one another. Joe said all of these things verbatim. Now, the annotations are just some bullshit I made up, but not the quotes.)
“I’ll show you where I buy my espadrilles.”
This is something that Steve Tyler said to Joe Perry when they were younger and God didn’t sanitize the planet because of it, which I find distressing.
“Joe, you personally owe $180,000 in room service charges.”
What was Joe Perry doing in those hotel rooms? What could possibly have cost that much: was he ordering slaves? Assassinations? Can you order an assassination from room service? I would imagine you would have to be part of some sort of Gold Level scheme for that kind of service.
And this was the 70’s. You could buy a house for, like, thirty-five dollars in green stamps: $180,000 is an ungodly amount of money back then. Joe Perry must have spent his every off-duty moment on the phone in a Brewster’s Millions-like frenzy.
“Room service? Yeah, it’s Joe Perry from Aerosmith again. I’m gonna need some eggs Benedict, couple more pots of coffee, and a moon rock.”
“Aaron, our son, was a rap fan…For my part, I’d picked up the sounds on the street and liked what I’d heard. Just like old blue, hip hop can be in your face macho. The country bluesman might boast, “I’m a crawling kingsnake, baby,” the same way the urban rapper might boast, “I’m the baddest motherfucker.”
There: now you understand black people. Thank you, Joe Perry of Aerosmith.
“Sobriety led to a renewal of spirit that had long left me. I was able to renew my relationship with those essential elements–the woods, the water, the wonder of science, and the mysteries of nature–that had consumed my as a child. With clear eyes, I was able to view these phenomena again, only this time as a n adult.”
Few people know this, but Joe Perry was up for the hosting gig on the new Cosmos TV show. Also: Joe Perry is amazed that he is now, as an adult, seeing things he saw as a child. This thought is not particularly deep, nor precisely a thought at all. At best, it is a musing you hope no one in a position to judge you heard.
“There’s additional teen rebellion and, in the end, a young man puts on a woman’s wig, smears on some lipstick, and is ready to rock.”
Joe Perry is here describing one of Aerosmith’s videos and I love the way he sounds like a bored carpet salesman who’s half-a-thermos of gin into his morning and stopped giving fucks so long ago there were still separate water fountains for white fucks and black fucks.
“Ehhh, so you got some guitars and then there’s some fire or some shit going on, bullshit bullshit, girl with tits, there’s additional teenage rebellion, annnnnd big explosion. That’s how you make a rock video, kid.”
“On our area backstage, the sky was raining fire.”
This is Joe Perry re-telling the classic story of Woodstock ’94. Or it’s from a brilliant novel written by a Croat Muslim girl during the shelling of Sarajevo. Either way.
“Still certain that we all needed professional help, Tim sent a female psychologist to evaluate the band members and our wives.”
Like Metallica, Aerosmith became entangled with therapists and rehabbers and the powerful forces in the band (Joe Perry, Steven Tyler, and the management) engaged in the kind of open psychological warfare only available to people with unlimited resources and far, far too much respect for a bunch of diplomas on the wall. (Joe Perry’s inferiority complex towards the educated is hilarious.) They sicced therapists on one another, snitched each other out, exiled entire rhythm sections to rehab for giggles: their insurance was one of those Cadillac plans Obama was talking about.
One another level, it’s just pathetic: say this for the Dead, if anyone had demanded their wives show up for a therapy session, Billy would still be punching dick today.
“Our love of hot Indian cuisine fueled A Taste of India, one of the hotter songs on the record. Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees) was the initial single and video, the story rendered in a series of images of men trapped in containers and cages being lorded over by voluptuous women. At one point Steven sings in a straitjacket.”
“Ehhh, so there’s a bunch of Indian chicks with big tits, then some men in cages, then white chicks with big tits, then straitjacket, annnnnd big explosion.”
“With gossamer fabrics floating down from the tent’s high top, it was a dreamlike evening.”
The best part of this line–about an Oscar party he attended–is picturing Joe Perry saying it. If you’ve never heard him speak, he’s got the classic Masshole bray that sounds like he’s trying to yank his jaw into the back of his throat during words. It is a voice that sounds best when shouting racial epithets at opposing first-basemen. The sentence above does not flow from its wellspring:
“Wit’ gaww-suh-muh FAA-br’ks floatin’ dahn from the tent’s hai tahp [TAKES SWIG OF DUNKIN’ DONUTS COFFEE]…
“To get a natural reverb, we ever recorded guitars and vocals in our private steam shower.”
As opposed the public steam showers filled with hobos one sees around.
“We were given an exotic blend of fruit juices that tasted divine. A few days later a large, painted elephant appeared for a photo session, marking the first time in Aerosmith history that the elephant in the room was a real elephant.
Leaving aside the juices, how pumped was Joe Perry when he thought of the elephant line? Because that’s a Joe Perry Original: he came up with that shit and then fought for its inclusion. I bet Joe Perry texted at least two of his children to try that out when he came up with it.
Also, Joe Perry feels the need to mention it was a large elephant.
“In addition to discovering the Alzheimer’s gene, Dr. Tanzi coauthored Super Brain with Deepak Chopra. Both physicians are true rock stars of science.
Other rock stars of science include Brian May (Ph.D in astrophysics), Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (actual rocket scientist and defense consultant), and Alex Van Halen (chief of pediatric oncology at Ceders-Sinai.)
“Around this time, I met Johnny Depp.”
This is a common feature of the rock book, the Johnny Depp shout-out. If there were a Rock Book BINGO card, the JDSO would be a box along with the trip to Japan, the first band break-up, and the part where you spend dozens of pages talking about your recently-born children with your second wife but barely mention the first round of kids, some of which are currently in your band.
“Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to see a bobcat.”
Maybe we’ll all be lucky, Joe Perry. Maybe there’s enough bobcats to go around.