Does the Noise In My Head Bother You?

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Does the Noise In My Head Bother You?
By Steven Tyler
(Ecco)

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Steven Tyler’s Does the Noise In My Head Bother You? is, as anticipated, the story of sex, drugs, rock and roll, more sex, and more drugs, all of which was interspersed with eight stints in rehab (well, that’s how many times he remembers going at least). Even though this rock and roll cliché has been told countless times before, it’s never been told quite the way Steven Tyler does. A self-described “Eternal Adolescent” and bipolar ADHD-case, there is never ever a dull moment in the story.

Tyler recounts his decades of living on the edge, beginning with his childhood in the Bronx, where street fighting was common, through Woodstock (“I was tripping my brains out”) and the 1960’s club scene where he played with his original bands, Chain Reaction and The Strangeurs. He describes meeting guitarist Joe Perry as being like the day the Miracle Worker was able to communicate “water” to Helen Keller—it was that epic. But he admits that, “My relationship with Joe is complex, competitive, fraught, really sort of fascinating in a hair-raising kind of way. There’s always going to be an undercurrent, ongoing tension, periods of homicidal hostility, backstabbing jealousy, and resentment. But hey, that’s the way the big machine works.”

He describes a day in the life on the road (both sober and not-so-sober), his two failed marriages, four children and one grandchild, and how “I’ve been misquoted as saying I’m more female than male. Let me set the record straight—it’s more half and half.” He recounts the drugs he’s taken—endless lines of coke, heroin, and tabs of LSD that he would take in the middle of the night, go back to sleep, and then wake up tripping on. He describes the fans and critics, the groupies and The Glitter Queen. He talks about his idols—Janis Joplin for her howling vocals and all those hippie scarves—and of course Mick Jagger—he admits to faking a British accent one summer in upstate New York and telling people that he’s Mick’s brother “Chris.” And after all of this, he admits, “I’ve lived through the changes of not knowing ANYTHING…to knowing EVERYTHING…and now at sixty-three I’m back to NOT KNOWIN’ NOTHIN’.”

Tyler describes how quickly Aerosmith took off in the mid-70’s and how, “We’d gone from being nobodies to being a multiplatinum band with four albums in the space of three years. We’d play to as many as half a million people at one time. And we had addictions to match. In the early days we were seen as cash cows—we were worked to death. We did three shows a week, and we were kept going on blow. Do you know what a treadmill is? Well, we spent the whole of the 1970s on one. It was tour—album—tour—album—tour—album. No breaks. Everybody knew what we were doing, and we were a mess. No one ever said, ‘You guys had better take a break.’ I was having seizures and passing out on stage.”

Overall, Does the Noise In My Head Bother You? is simply just an entertaining read. It does expose a few truths about Aerosmith from over the ages, but mainly it’s just a funny string of quoteable Steven Tyler-isms, tangential thoughts, obscene observations and even some life advice. The man’s a lunatic, but a damn entertaining one.

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