Top 20 Aerosmith Songs

Welcome back another list for Top “Ten” Tuesday.  Today we are going to talk about Aerosmith.  Aerosmith is an American rock band formed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1970 consisting of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Joey Kramer, and Ray Tabano.  In 1971, Tabano left and was replaced with Brad Whitford forming the band that we know today.

Around this time was when the band started to get a huge following in the Boston area with their style of blues-based hard rock, while incorporating elements of pop rock, heavy metal, and rhythm and blues.  The group is sometimes referred to as “the Bad Boys from Boston” and “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band.”  They were signed to Columbia Records in 1972 and their first album was released in 1973, followed by Get Your Wings in 1974.  They broke out into the mainstream in 1975 with their album Toys in the Attic and their following 1976 album, Rocks.  By the end of the decade, they were among the most popular hard rock bands in the world.  

Around this time, drug addiction and conflict within the band caused Joe Perry to leave the band in 1979 followed by Brad Whitford in 1981.  They were respectively replaced with Jimmy Crespo and Rick Dufay.  The band struggled to release albums to the quality of their previous albums between 1980-1984.  Perry and Whitford both joined in 1984, and the band signed a new deal with Geffen Records.  The band still suffered with lackluster album sales for Done With Mirrors in 1985.  It wasn’t until their collaboration with rap group Run-D.M.C. in 1986 and their 1987 multi-platinum album, Permanent Vacation, that they regained their popularity they experienced in the 1970s.  They continued to release successful albums including Pump in 1989, Get a Grip in 1993, and Nine Lives in 1997. The band also became a pop culture phenomenon with popular music videos, Their first number one hit, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” from the 1998 animated film, Armageddon. The following year, they had a roller coaster attraction open up at Walt Disney World, the Rockin’ Roller Coaster, as well as the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith video game in 2008.  Their comeback has been described as one of the most remarkable comebacks in rock history.  

With the introduction out of the way, let’s get on with our list.  This is a little more than a Top 10, with my Top 20 Aerosmith songs.


#20-Dude (Looks Like a Lady)-Permanent Vacation

This has become one Aerosmith’s most famous songs, reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100, #41 on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, #4 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, #22 on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart and #45 on the UK Singles Chart.  The song was going to be called “Crusin’ for a Lady” but was changed to a song about a man being mistaken as a woman, as the title suggests.  Steven Tyler states in the book Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith, “One day we met Mötley Crüe, and they’re all going, ‘Dude!’ Dude this and Dude that, everything was Dude. ‘Dude (Looks Like a Lady)’ came out of that session.”  Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe said the title of the song originated from a New York bar crawl where Tyler and himself had drinks at a gay bar where the waiters were dressed in woman’s clothes.  Vince Neil prompted Steven Tyler to comment, “Dude looks like a lady!”  Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe says in his book, The Heroin Diaries, that the song was especially inspired by Neil.  The song has a catchy chorus “That, that dude looks like a lady/That, that dude looks like a lady.”


#19-Livin’ on the Edge-Get a Grip

Their 1993 had a lot of great songs, like “Eat the Rich”, “Cryin’”, and “Crazy” but I have to say this one is my favorite from this album.  It was their first single from the album, and it reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, #3 on the Cash Box Top 100, and #1 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart, where it remained for nine weeks, making it their most successful single on that chart.  According to the previously mentioned autobiography, the song was inspired by the 1992 Los Angeles riots.


#18-My Fist Your Face-Done With Mirrors

The song has a great guitar riff beginning this song.  This is the second song from the 1985 album.  It was released as a promo-only 12-inch single to US radio stations, the third promo-only single taken from the album.  While the album was met with subpar reviews and success, I still enjoy this album and suggest for you to give it a listen.


#17-Jaded-Just Push Play

This was the first single from the 2001 album, Just Push Play.  The song was debuted publicly at the American Music Awards and was also played at the Super Bowl XXXV halftime show that year.  It was ranked #86 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the ‘00s.  It became the band’s final chart hit in most territories.  It also reached #1 on both the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and the UK Rock Chart.  It also reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and in Canada and Scotland.  The song’s lyrics are about a girl who is “jaded”, and how the relationship the narrator has with the girl is sometimes “complicated” but asserts that “I’m the one that jaded you”.  The song is most likely about the consequences of Steven Tyler using drugs and being on the road touring, and not being available to his daughter.


#16-Angel-Permanent Vacation

This is a great ‘80s ballad.  It was released as third single from the album released in 1988.  It quickly climbed to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 which at the time was their highest charting single ever.  The song currently ranks behind the 1998 single “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”


#15-Face-Just Push Play

We’re coming back to their 2001 album.  This one is probably the most unique song on the list.  Most of the songs are rockin’ songs.  This is just a quiet acoustic song.  It wasn’t on the original release for the album.  This song along with “Won’t Let You Down” were issued as bonus tracks on later pressings of the album, although the latter can only be heard on the Japanese version of the album. The song has a false end about 3 minutes, followed by 30 seconds of silence.  About 3:38, a reprise of “Under My Skin” plays for the last minute before closing out the song.


#14-Rats in the Cellar-Rocks

We finally reach an Aerosmith from the 1970s.  The entire Rocks album is amazing.  There isn’t a bad song on it.  Rats in the Cellar is one of the overlooked gems on the album.  Steven Tyler stated in his memoir that this song was a “tip of the hat, or an answer to ‘Toys in the Attic’…Meanwhile, in real life, ‘Rats’ was more like what was actually going on.  Things were coming apart, sanity was scurrying south, caution was flung to the winds, and little by little chaos was permanently going in.”  The song jumps into a rocker right away.  After the lyrics, there is a great guitar riff that builds up at the end, getting faster before drums close out this great track.


#13-Love in an Elevator-Pump

This song was released as the lead single from their third with Geffen Records, released in 1989.  It peaked #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached #1 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.  Steven Tyler is said to have come upon the concept of the song while researching famous battleships. Specifically, an instance on the Russian battleship Navarin, in which one of the crew was famously quoted, as the ship was going down,”Мы должны жить вверх, в то время как мы теперь идем вниз,” or when translated “we must live upwards now, for it is downward we head.” Tyler claims the song’s lyrics were inspired by an experience he had a hotel, in which he was making out with a girl in the elevator and they started to get intimate when the doors open.  He said, “It felt like a lifetime waiting for those doors to close.”  The song is catchy with the repeated previously mentioned lyrics with some great vocal harmony.  Tyler is backed with vocals by band members Perry, Whitford, and Hamilton along with Bob Dowd and Bruce Fairbairn.


#12-Mama Kin-Aerosmith

The most notable part of the song is the guitar riff, with a strong backbeat which comes in between the lyrics in the verse and throughout the bridge. This is one of the songs that helped Aerosmith get signed to Columbia Records in 1972.  Steven Tyler said the song is his idea of a spiritual force that drives the creativity and pleasure.  “Keep in touch with Mama Kin” means remembering the desires that drive you to excel.  Steven Tyler was so confident this song would succeed he had “Ma’ Kin” tattooed on his left bicep beneath a winged heart.  He told his bandmates this was the song that was going to make them rich and famous.  He was right, this song became a live staple throughout the band’s career and appeared on many compilation albums over the years.


#11-Back in the Saddle-Rocks

This song is one of Aerosmith’s heaviest songs.  Steven Tyler’s vocals hit new high levels and Joe Perry plays a Fender Bass VI which gives the song its distinctive “growl”. Brad Whitford plays the lead guitar while Tom Hamilton plays one of the heaviest and most noticeable bass lines in an Aerosmith song.  The song was released as the third single from the album in 1977 and it peaked at #38 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The “saddle” Tyler refers to in the song is metaphorical to several sexual positions.  The song to this day remains a staple on classic rock radio and in concert.  It is also cited by Slash of Guns N’ Roses and James Hetfield of Metallica to be among their favorite rock songs.


#10-Fallen Angels-Nine Lives

This song acts the closing track on the American releases of their 1997 album.  It is a great closing track in the way it fades out.  The song has a catchy chorus “Tell Me/Where do fallen angels go/I just don’t know/Where do fallen angels go/They keep falling”.  As catchy as the song is, it has a somber quality to it.  The lyrics are often interpreted as missing children, whether they are children who have run away or those who are kidnapped.  The song ends with a slow fade with an orchestral like fade out backed with the drum beat that acts as the last minute of the song.  A great way to end the album.


#9-Rag Doll-Permanent Vacation

The song is notable for Kramer’s catchy drum beat at the beginning of the song as well as Joe Perry’s slide guitar, a horn section arranged by Tom Keenlyside.  The song was originally called “Rag Time” however John Kalodner (A&R Executive) didn’t like the name, and Holly Knight was called in to help change that lyric.  She suggested “Rag Doll”, which was a title that Tyler and co-writer Jim Vallance already considered.  One lyric in the song where Tyler sings “Yes I’m movin’” is a response to The Rolling Stones’ cover of Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” that appears on Got Live If You Want It!  Keith Richards sings “Yes I’m movin’” in response to Mick Jagger singing “I’m movin’ on”. The radio single differed from the album version having a more urgent, driving beat from Tom Hamilton’s bass, and slightly different sax notes.  This version also had an earlier fadeout, omitting the classic clarinet and trumpet duet behind Tyler’s scat singing.


#8-Toys in the Attic-Toys in the Attic

This is the opening and title track to Aerosmith’s 1975 album.  The song is part of the Rock and Roll Hall Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.  The song starts off with a great riff and a great rhythm from Hamilton and Kramer.  The lyrics are simple but the song is still catchy.


#7-Attitude Adjustment-Nine Lives

The intro to this song is awesome.  It has one of the band’s heaviest riffs.  The song is probably talking about a relationship that isn’t working out, “Hey I think you need an attitude adjustment from inside out”.  


#6-Same Old Song and Dance-Get Your Wings

Before talking about this song, I want to mention a great honorable mention in “Train Kept a Rollin’” which has great guitar work mimicking a train whistle, and Joey Kramer mimicking the sound of train wheels on the train track.  It’s a great song that wasn’t able to make the list.

Now on to “Same Old Song and Dance” the lead single from the band’s second album and has remained a staple on rock radio stations and the band’s set lists.  The intro has a great guitar riff that leads into the song.  The song was built around a riff that Joe Perry came up with while sitting on his amp.  Steven Tyler quickly came up with the lyrics which are sung in sync with the main riff.  The song is known for its upbeat rhythm and dueling guitars of Perry and Whitford, along with the interspersed horns.  The song has a guest guitarist.  Dick Wagner who played with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed plays the guitar solo on the Get Your Wings recording.


#5-Walk This Way-Toys in the Attic

This song is the second single from the album.  It peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1977.  It was one of the songs that helped break Aerosmith into the mainstream in the 1970s as well as the song that helped revitalize their career in the 1980s when the song was covered by Run-D.M.C. which features Tyler singing backup and Joe Perry playing guitars.  Run-D.M.C.’s version is featured on the album Raising Hell, released in 1986.  The song acts as the perfect hip hop song with the two measure drum beat intro by Joey Kramer, which was replicated and extended in the Run-D.M.C. version.  The song proceeds with the main riff made famous by Perry and Whitford with Hamilton on bass.  The song continues with rapid fire (almost rap-like) lyrics by Steven Tyler.  


#4-Last Child-Rocks

This song became the album’s first single in 1976.  It peaked at #21 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The song is one of Brad Whitford’s best known contributions.  Steven Tyler said, “Brad wrote, ‘Take me back to sweet Tallahassee, home sweet home…Whatever he put into ‘Last Child’, that’s his moment.  He cant take that, and that’s his, forever.”  The song opens like a slow song, with careful playing on guitar and Tyler’s dreamy lyrics.  22 seconds in, the song changes abruptly to a hard rocking, bluesy song.  Whitford and Perry interplay a boogie background.  Whitford plays the low notes on the riff and Perry plays the funk chords higher up on the neck.  Two thirds of the way through, there is a great guitar riff which some rumors say that Joe Perry didn’t play it.  It is rumored to have been played by a hired musician.  During his appearance as a guest on That Metal Show in 2012, Whitford stated that he actually wrote and performed the solo himself.


#3-Voodoo Medicine Man-Pump

The song starts off very quiet with trippy sound effects and tribal noises.  About a minute in, the tribal drums fades into a quiet electric guitar riff.  As Steven Tyler finishes up his lines, Tom Hamilton plays a few bass chords.  The song takes off in a great hard rock song.  The song closes out with Yoodoo, Voodoo, Medicine Man with some great drumming backing up Tyler’s vocals as the song closes out.


#2-Dream On-Aerosmith

We’re getting close to the end of the list and we all know what the last two songs are going to be, just what is the order of the last two?  Dream On was solely written by Steven Tyler on an Steinway upright piano in the living room of Trow-Rico Lodge in Sunapee, maybe four years before Aerosmith even started.  Tyler said, “I was seventeen or eighteen…It was just this little thing I was playing, and I never dreamed it would end up as a real song or anything…It’s about dreaming until your dreams come true.”  Tyler has also said this was the only song on the band’s first album where he used his real voice.  He was insecure about how his voice sounded on tape, so for the other songs he tried to sing a bit lower and sound more like soul artists like James Brown.  The song features one of the greatest screams in rock history (my opinion of course).  The song was the first major hit for the band and peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot 100 but hit big in the band’s native city of Boston, where it was the number one single of the year on WBZ-FM, #5 for the year on WRKO and #16 on the WMEX (AM) station.


#1-Sweet Emotion-Toys in the Attic

If “Dream On” was #2, then we ALL know what #1 was going to be, “Sweet Emotion”.  The song begins quiet with a great bass line with Joe Perry using a talk box, the most famous use of the guitar talk box in popular music.  Tyler comes in with the song’s title and the song switches gear to be a hard rock number.  The highlight of the song is the bass brake in between the verses and chorus.  At about 3:30 the song switches gear again featuring a great guitar solo and drum beat that plays for the last minute slowly fading out.  Many fans believe that Steven. Tyler wrote all of the lyrics about the tension and hatred between the band members and Joe Perry’s first wife.  Tyler himself said that only some of the lyrics were inspired by Perry’s first wife.  In the band’s autobiography as well as an episode Behind the Music state that the lyrics were about the growing feuds between the band member’s wives which includes an incident involving “spilt milk” where Elyssa Perry threw milk over Tom Hamilton’s wife, Terry.  The song has been included on many compilation albums, there was a special edit on the 1980 Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits compilation album.  The bass and talk box introduction was removed, instead beginning with the chorus that proceeds the first verse.  The guitar solo at the end of the song is also removed, and the track concludes with the chorus, which repeats as the song fades.  This edit was used for the original single of the song, which was replaced in subsequent pressing with the album version.


Since we went with a Top 20 this week, there won’t be any honorable mentions but there are a lot of songs I would’ve liked to include, but you have to stop somewhere.  What did you think of this list?  Do you agree with it?  Would you rearrange it?  What songs would you include on your list?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.  And before you go, don’t forget to follow Awesome Albums on Instagram and Twitter, like on Facebook, and Subscribe on both YouTube and BitChute for music related content.  Also, don’t forget to come back next Tuesday, for another list for Top “Ten” Tuesday!

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