“Sweet Emotion” smells like cigarettes, hairspray, leather fringe, and dirty sex. That’s the recognizable scent of rock and roll.
I was not a burnout in school, but I did kind of think they were cool because they didn’t give a fuck. They partied hard, broke the law, and fucked around, as did all the popular kids, but at least the burnouts were honest about it. I respected that.
And they had better taste in music than the preps. In my school the preps were some basic bitches, really only getting into whatever was popular. As a group they did not approve of punk, heavy metal, or the little bit of rap that was around back then. It was pretty much top 40 for them.
Aerosmith came into my life in 1986 when they did “Walk This Way” with Run DMC. I didn’t know anything about either group, and had never heard the original version of the song. It was a huge deal at the time for a rock group and some rappers to do a collaboration like this. I really dug the song and the video, and I became a fan of Aerosmith. I didn’t get into Run DMC until later in life, but always appreciated their contribution to popular music and the start of my Aerosmith fanhood.
“Sweet Emotion” is one of my favorites, because everything about its sound is dirty rock and roll. The lyrics, the licks, the way Steven gets it done vocally—it’s a truly perfect rock and roll song.
So perfect, in fact, that it makes one of my favorite movies even more perfect. Dazed and Confused opens with the song, and it is one of those spectacular moments in life when music can set exactly the right tone. It would not have been the same movie with any other song. Really! And getting Aerosmith tickets was the top priority of the summer for the main characters in the movie. Well, of course it was. It was the summer of 1976 in Texas. What else would a bunch of stoners be doing? I’ve never done a drug in my life, but I have pretty much the same taste in music as most stoners.
Not that I played “Sweet Emotion” over and over in high school, but hearing it now reminds me of the burnouts at my suburban school in the late 80s, who I am sure loved Aerosmith. My school was similar to the school in the movie because football was stupidly important. I never gave a shit about our sports teams, because I knew the jocks and cheerleaders got away with whatever they wanted, and I thought that sort of favoritism and caste system was bullshit.
I am well past the party phase I had in my twenties and early thirties, and I never equated Aerosmith with my party days. The overwhelming majority of my partying took place in gay bars where they don’t play much Aerosmith. I just thought of them as one of my favorite rock and roll bands. Their music makes me feel like kicking somebody’s ass.
Shouldn’t all rock and roll make you feel like that?