Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?
A little bit. This is the name of the new memoir from Steven Tyler - American Idol host, devilish lothario and blues-rock singer. It's not ghost-written, but reads as if it were yelled at a good sport with a tape recorder, given the constant ejaculations of "Oh, man!" and the rattling hipster-gibberish that snakes through the pages. An example, regarding being stoned: "[You are]so up in your own Kool-Aid, you know? Up in da Kool-Aid, mon, but you do not know the flav-vah."
Within the urchin of cliché ("Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly ... KILL ALL THE LAWYERS") that is the book's introduction, is the following sentiment: "Life is short."
Seemingly not for the still ravishing Aerosmith frontman, who, at 63, has retained his lean body and long mane of multicoloured hair (so like Holly Golightly's vari-coloured ragbag colours. Her "tawny streaks, strands of albino-blond and yellow.")His beautiful face is also intact: He either has a voodoo surgeon, or actually managed to preserve his looks with the mass quantities of drugs he recounts having hoovered all these years (one assumes at least one mountain of coke was cut with formaldehyde).
And his lips! As luscious (but far less iconic) as Jagger's, they are not merely precious sexual artifacts, but ones with a pedigree no less.
Early on in the distressingly linear autobiography - when little Tyler (born Tallarico in the Bronx) is baptized with an obscene racial slur, related to the size of his lips, he cries. He then dignifies his early appellation: "I was right proud of that moniker because I then realized that those were my roots, my black roots were in black music."
Having a vile racial epithet hurled at you by a dumb cracker does not make you Robert Johnson's grandson, but it is this sort of spinny, vain, self-mythologizing that characterizes the memoir.
Still, it's impossible not to like the on/off Aerosmith frontman, and, in the sunshine of his plan to make "compassion the new black" one cannot but enjoy his wild, joyous comeback.
This memoir appears after a successful round of rehab and the reboot of his career. His solo single (It) Feels So Good landed Monday, and he is insanely popular as an American Idol judge, a show that his former band mate Joe Perry calls "one step up from Ninja Turtles."
Last week, he stood beaming on the cover of People, a star reborn, declaring "I'm lucky to be alive!"
Going by this book (and Bebe Buell's memoir, Rebel Heart), he is not exaggerating in the slightest.
Mildly criticized for its almost exclusive focus on the author's lifestyle, and for not discussing, with any criticality or context, the songs fans love, Does The Noise In My Head Bother You? is both extreme and a fairly run of the mill recounting of a recovering addict/rock star's drug and sex gluttony, and concomitant catastrophes.
Once very well known for his straight-flamboyance, or sexually ambiguous, wild persona, Tyler's narrative is surprisingly old-mannish, replete with a kvetching catalogue of injuries, almost-wistful recollections of gross quantities of opiates and cocaine, and glitter-covered groupies who would leave a man smeared in sexy, twinkling bits. Oh man! There is even an argument for the efficacy of the drugs that almost killed him, again and again, while inspiring what he believes to be paranormally good lyrics. Lyrics like "Dreams of swords in hand/Sailing ships, the Viking spits/The blood of father's land."
He is mature, in a confusing, New Age way (visits to "Mr. Chopra" abound here), about women as well. Once a shameless philanderer, who dated jailbait and remarked on one nubile's ashtray-shaped head; he is now a worshipper of a she-God, and knows that the Holy Grail is "a vagina." Both the coarse sexism and fruity goddess talk are demeaning, of course, but at least he seems more evolved.
This an exciting time for Tyler and his fans. One small problem. Aerosmith is not a cool band. They did three good songs (even Buell can only list these) and the rest are horrible. Since 1975's Toys in the Attic, they have been cranking out the kind of songs wedding singers perform, lustily, at strip mall dining halls.The chic, charismatic Tyler needs to stay where he is, on Idol, where his compassion is truly great to behold; where he looks, more than he has in 30 years, like the dishabille rock star, the "Demon of Screamin" than ever.
And of course, he's got to dream on. This is his great legacy; he taught, through song and example, so many of us to dream, dream until our dreams come true.