It’s a brand-new year — a brand new decade — and if you’re already falling behind on your new year’s resolutions, I’ve got the perfect playlist to get you back on your feet, courtesy of a band who’s been around for almost FIVE decades now: the Bad Boys of Boston, Aerosmith!
- “Permanent Vacation” from Permanent Vacation (1987)
Lyrics to listen out for: “I got to take myself a Permanent Vacation / The sky’s the limit, but my plane won’t fly.”
Be honest — you’re already counting down the days until summer vacation. I think we can all agree with Mr. Steven Tyler when he says he’s got to take himself a Permanent Vacation in this song and I think, between work and school and extra-curriculars, it’s crucial to find — and take advantage of — those “mini-vacations” in our daily lives. Steven Tyler and Aerosmith guitarist, Brad Whitford wrote this song in the spring of 1987 about retiring to the tropics. Although it’s certainly not the most popular song on this album, it does get major props for lending its name to the title of the entire album. I highly recommend checking out the other songs on it as well, because it is one of their greatest, a climacteric in their career, and I would rank it in my top three favorite Aerosmith albums of all time.
- “You Gotta Move” from Honkin’ on Bobo (2004)
Lyrics to listen out for: “When my God gets ready, you gotta move.”
If you watched that movie, Barnyard: The Original Party Animals as a kid like I did, then you have definitely heard this song! It’s actually an old African-American spiritual song that’s been covered multiple times since the 1940s by a variety of artists, including The Rolling Stones and, of course, Aerosmith for their 2004 album, Honkin’ on Bobo. If blues songs from the ’50s and ‘60s are your forte and the harmonica is your instrument of choice, then Honkin’ on Bobo is the album for you, as it includes 10 other covers of various blues songs from that era that are chock full of harmonica solos from The Demon of Screamin’ himself. As far as this song goes, its underlying message is Christian in nature: that God determines an individual’s fate, regardless of their situation in life. Humbling and something I think everybody should be reminded of regularly.
- “Back in the Saddle” from Rocks (1976)
Lyrics to listen out for: “I’m calling all the shots tonight, I’m like a loaded gun.”
This may come as a surprise to all of you, but this is the only song that made it onto my list that you may have heard while going zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.8 seconds on the one and only Rock N’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! This song makes me want to burst through the doors of a saloon, like a town sheriff in all of those stereotypical wild, wild west movies that are always being parodied in film and television. This is actually one of the first rock songs with a country-western theme, preceded by “Desperado” by The Eagles in 1973 and followed by “Wanted Dead Or Alive” by Bon Jovi in 1986, to name a few others. The actual meaning of this song is a lot more suggestive than my interpretation, but nonetheless, listening to this song never fails to make me feel more confident and able to tackle any obstacle that knocks me down or gets in my way!
- “Amazing” from Get a Grip (1993)
Lyrics to listen out for: “It’s amazing and I’m sayin’ a prayer for the desperate hearts tonight.”
This is arguably one of the most beautiful, genuine Aerosmith songs ever written and I didn’t discover it until conceptualizing this list! Everyone who knows of Aerosmith knows about their heavy substance usage, so Steven Tyler and songwriter, Richie Supa wrote this song in 1993 — after they had gotten sober — about climbing back to the top after you’ve hit rock bottom, specifically recovering from an addiction. Everybody has encountered something that has knocked them down before — maybe you or somebody you know is suffering or has suffered from a drug or alcohol addiction, or maybe not — but everybody can find themselves in the lyrics of this song and apply it to something that has happened or is currently happening in their lives. It’s such a raw, emotional song directly from the band’s own experience and listening to it might be the difference between what your life is what your life could be. Definitely check out the rest of the album too; it’s another one of the albums in my top three and it’s tied with their 1989 album, Pump for their second best-selling album in the United States. Don’t be fooled by the slow, somber intro; once the chorus kicks in, you’ll think it’s “amazing!” (See what I did there?)
- “Dream On” from Aerosmith (1973)
Lyrics to listen out for: “Sing with me, sing for the years / Sing for the laughter, sing for the tears / Sing with me, just for today / Maybe tomorrow, the good Lord will take you away.”
Rounding out our countdown is, of course, “Dream On.” How could any other song take the place of number one? This song is a perfect song to listen to during bad times, good times — or in my case — when you didn’t prepare a song in time for karaoke night at your local coffee joint. Regarding the song’s meaning, Steven Tyler explained, “it’s about the hunger to be somebody: Dream until your dreams come true.” I think every college student has that mentality; that’s why you go to class every day. It’s one step closer to making your dreams come true and this song is a good reminder of that.
And so it seems there’s an Aerosmith song for every mood and every occasion!
Be sure to catch Aerosmith’s performance on the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS (Check local listings). Also, if you’re in the Las Vegas area, go see their show, “Deuces Are Wild” at Park Theater at Park MGM. Tickets available here! If you’re interested in listening to more of their discography that didn’t make it onto this list, you can check out my Aerosmith Spotify playlist here!