Songwriters: Steven Tyler, Tom Hamilton
Original Release: Toys in the Attic
Definitive Version: Live! Bootleg, 1978
As I mentioned, Christmas in 1988 and 1989 were the first ones I spent away from my family, but they weren’t the first ones I’d spent away from home. I can’t remember why now, but Mom decided to take me, Jin and Scott to Florida for Christmas in 1978.
We went the entire two weeks school was out. In fact, I remember missing the first day back after the new year and going to visit everyone at school as class got out to grab books and assignments to catch up on homework I didn’t take with me.
That’s right. Here’s how much my academic life adjusted in seventh grade: I took—AND DID—homework over Christmas break in Florida. It was no big deal: It was drafting homework, so it was easy to do while, say, watching Ohio State play its bowl game. It’s even easier to fix after, say, dumping over the table you’re working on when Ohio State loses the said game.
Most important, restoring the said homework gives you something mindless to work on after having your mind blown after the Ohio State coach starts an on-field brawl. Yep, the game in question was the infamous Gator Bowl that ended up being Woody Hayes’ final game at Ohio State.
I’ll never forget the sequence of events: Art Schlichter throws the game-deciding interception, over goes the drafting table, and then … wait a minute, did I just see what I think I saw? It looked like Woody Hayes punched a player on Clemson! Of course, that’s what happened. Crazy.
That was the weirdest thing that happened on that vacation, but it was weird to be in Florida anyway over Christmas. We decorated the small artificial tree in the condo, and our gifts were very small: I got a Mastermind game. (The bigger presents were opened at home.) Then we went down to the beach in 80-degree weather. Like I said, weird.
Anyway, I ended up running into a kid I had met years before (not that day). His name was Paul, he was about my age and he was from Long Island. The thing I remember most about Paul from the earlier days was that the first time I ever was in the tumble-down beach-front Windjammer restaurant across from the rooftop arcade was when Paul’s family was having dinner there. I ended up joining them and partaking of a baked potato.
In 1978, he and two other kids had been hanging out in the lobby, and he seemed to recognize me from years before. I went out to meet them, and before long I was part of their crew, too. I don’t remember the names of the two other kids, but they were the nephews of the manager of the Golden Arms. He lived in the unit next to ours on the first floor. One was roughly my and Paul’s age, the other was a bit younger.
We did a lot of stuff together the time that they were there—all the usual stuff, like hit the 7-Seven and the arcade. (That’s the first time I ever saw a friend—Paul—smoke). We went over to the Spanish house ruins and climbed around, and while playing hide-and-seek, I nearly ran into a massive coral-colored spider in my hiding spot.
And we’d hang out in the communal party room across from the lobby. Typically the only time I ever was in there was to grab the shuffleboard equipment, which we played more when I was younger. Usually no one was in there, so it was a good place to hang out on the bad white Florida-beach wicker furniture and be out of the way.
One day, the older brother, let’s call him Doug, brought out a new album he wanted to play—Live Bootleg by Aerosmith. Of course, I knew Aerosmith from before. I bought the Dream On album when Dream On broke huge. I was curious to hear the live version, which was pretty good, and he played more stuff. In fact, that was the first time I heard this song. I liked that Joe Perry used a talkbox during this song to synthesize him singing “sweeeeeet emoooootion.” It was just like Frampton.
A year or so later, when I first went over to Mike’s house after we became friends my sophomore year of high school, I saw he had Live Bootleg, which I hadn’t heard since Florida. Now, post-discovery of The Who, the thing that pulled me in was Perry’s feedback-laced freakout at the end of this song.
I guess it’s appropriate: Aerosmith, Seventies Aerosmith anyway, is the music of hanging out on bad furniture away from the parents with buds.