Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?

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by Steven Tyler



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780007319183
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/28/2011

About the Author

Born Steven Victor Tallarico on March 26, 1948, in Yonkers, New York, Steven Tyler is the iconic songwriter, composer, and voice of Aerosmith—America's greatest rock 'n' roll band—and is considered one of rock's most recognizable and dynamic frontmen. Rolling Stone magazine has cited him as one of the greatest singers of all time.

After coming together in Sunapee, New Hampshire, in the late sixties, five musicians made the decision to move to Boston, live together, and become the band we know today as Aerosmith: Tyler as frontman, guitarist Joe Perry, bassist Tom Hamilton, guitarist Ray Tabano, later replaced by Brad Whitford, and drummer Joey Kramer. The band has sold more than 100 million records across the globe and won numerous prestigious awards—multiple Grammys, American Music awards, Billboard awards, and MTV awards—and was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Aerosmith has infiltrated rock history with their memorable appearances in Wayne's World and The Simpsons, at the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXV in 2001, and in their own Aerosmith version of Guitar Hero. Their number one single, "Don't Want to Miss a Thing," was nominated for an Academy Award for best song for the movie Armageddon. In December 2010, Tyler performed for President Obama and the First Lady in a special tribute to Sir Paul McCartney at the Kennedy Center Honors. In January 2011, Tyler joined Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and host Ryan Seacrest as a judge on the Fox TV phenomenon American Idol.

Read an Excerpt

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?

A Rock 'n' Roll Memoir
By Steven Tyler


Copyright © 2011 Steven Tyler
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061767890

Chapter One

I as born at the Polyclinic Hospital in the Bronx, March
26, 1948. As soon as I could travel my parents headed
straight out of town to Sunapee, New Hampshire, to the
little housekeeping cottages they rented out every summer,

kind of an old-fashioned bed-and-breakfast deal,
only it was 1950. I was put in a crib at the side of the house. A
fox came by and thought I was a cub, grabbed me by the scruff
of my diaper, and dragged me into the woods. I grew up with the
animals and the children of the woods. I heard so much in the
silence of the pine tree forests that I knew later in life I would
have to fill that void. The only thing my parents knew was that
I was out there somewhere. They heard me cry in the forest one
night, but when they came up to where I was, all they saw was
a big hole in the ground, which they thought was the fox's den.
They dug and dug and dug, but all they found was the rabbit hole
I'd fallen into—like Alice.
And like Alice I entered another dimension: the sixth
dimension (the fifth dimension was already taken). Since then, I
can go to that place anytime I want, because I know the secret of
the children of the woods; there's so much in silence when you
know what you're hearing—what dances between the psycho-
acoustics of any two notes and what reads between the lines
is akin to the juxtaposition of what you see when you look
in the mirror. My whole life has been dancing between these
worlds: the GOAN ZONE, the Way-Out-o-Sphere and . . .
call myself a peripheral visionary. I hear what people don't say
and I see what's invisible. At night, because our visual perception

is made up of rods and cones, if you're going down a dark
path, the only way to really see the path is to look off and see
it in your peripheral vision. But more on this as we progress,
regress, and digress.

When I finally got pulled out of the rabbit hole, my parents
brought me back to the third dimension. Like all parents they
were concerned, but I was afraid to tell them that I have never
felt more comfortable than being lost in that forest.

In Manhattan we lived at 124th Street and Broadway, not far
from the Apollo Theater. Harlem, man. If the first three years of
your life are the most informative, then surely I needed to hear
that music, and I was inspired by the noise coming out of that
theater. It had more soul than Saint Peter.

A few years ago I was back at the Apollo, and saw the park
where my mom had pushed me in my carriage. My first visual
memory is from THAT PARK: trees and clouds moving above
my head as if I were floating above the earth. There I am,

a two-year-old astral-projecting infant. At age four, I remember
going to get a gallon of milk with two quarters, walking with
my mom hand in hand through passages and corridors of the
basement of our building and through tunnels into the adjoining

building where the milk machine was. I thought I was . . .
God knows where. I might as well have been on Mars. Ah,
it was the mysterious world of childhood, where someone is
always leading you by the hand through a dark passageway and
into a brand-new world just waiting for the child's overactive
imagination to kick in.

My mother lit the fire that would keep me warm for the
rest of my life. She read me parables, Aesop's Fables, and Rudyard
Kipling's Just So Stories. Children's tales and nursery rhymes from
the eighteen hundreds, nineteen hundreds: "Hickory Dickory
Dock," Andrew Lang's The Nursery Rhyme Book, Hans

Christian Andersen, Helen Bannerman's Little Black Sambo. So great!
Never mind the "Goose That Laid the Golden Egg!" My mom
would read me all these stories every night at bedtime. But one
night when I was around six, she stopped.
"You gotta learn how to read 'em yourself," she said. Up until
then I'd been reading along with her as she pointed to the words.
We did this for months until she knew I kinda had the idea, then
suddenly there's no Mom looking over my shoulder. She just left
the book by my bed and I became distraught. "Mom, I wanna
hear the stories. Why won't you read to me anymore?!" I said.
And then one night I thought to myself, "Uh-oh, now I gotta get
smart." Naah. . . . I'll just become a musician and write my own
stories and myths . . . Aeromyths.

Mom used to tell me of a man she'd seen on the Steve Allen
Show, in 1956 when I was eight. His name was Gypsy Boots.
He was the original hippie, a guy who lived in a tree with hair
down to his waist and who promoted health food and yoga.
Gypsy was the proto-hippie. In the early thirties he had dropped
out of high school, wandered to California with a bunch of
other so-called vagabonds, lived off the land, slept in caves and
trees, and bathed in waterfalls. I was totally seduced by that
lifestyle. Boots's message was this: As primitive as his world
seemed, he wanted people to think that he would live forever.
Hey, he almost did, dying just eleven days before his ninetieth
birthday in 1994.

Next in my life came a bohemian composer named Eden
Ahbez, who wrote a song called "Nature Boy" (which my mom
heard on a Nat King Cole record). He camped out below the
first L in the Hollywood sign, studied Oriental mysticism, and,
like Gypsy Boots, he lived on vegetables, fruits, and nuts. My
mom sang that song to me before I went to sleep. I'll never forget
how it made me think that I was her nature boy.
The song tells the story of how one day an enchanted

wandering Nature Boy—wise and shy, with a sad, glittering eye—
crosses the path of the singer. They sit by the fire and talk of
philosophers and knaves and cabbages and kings. As the boy gets
up to leave he imparts the secret of life: To love and be loved is
all we know and all we need to know. With that Nature Boy
vanishes into the night as mysteriously as he had come.
Unfortunately the people who own the rights to "Nature
Boy" won't let me publish the actual words to the song in this
book (still, you can just Google them), but I promise it will be on
my solo album come hell or high water.

Then there was Moondog. What a fantastic character, a
blind musician who dressed up like a Viking with a helmet
and horns and a spear to match. He hung out on the corner
of Fifty-sixth Street and Sixth Avenue. I saw and smelled him
every morning on my way to school. Oddly enough, he lived
up in the Bronx, apparently in the woods, back behind the
apartment buildings I grew up in. Was that a coincidence or
was that God secretly telling me, "Steven, thou shalt become
the Moondog of your generation"? Or at least the leader of a
rock 'n' roll band.
What I heard about Moondog was that he wrote "Nature
Boy," but what do I know? Maybe Eden Ahbez is Moondog
spelled backward. . . .

My mother's birth name was Susan Ray Blancha. At sixteen
she joined the WACS (Women's Army Corps). She met my dad
while they were both at Fort Dix in New Jersey during World
War II. One night he had a date with a woman who was rooming
with my mom. The roommate stood him up, and instead
he was greeted by my mother, who happened to be playing the
piano at the time. My dad walked over to her and said, "You're
playin' it wrong." It was love at first fight! They got married and
had lil ol' Lynda, my sister, and lil ol' me came two years later.
Ha-ha! That's my mom, that's my dad, and that's why I'm so
fuckin' detail-oriented—and such a maniac. I got the traits that
I don't want and the ones I do. Because you're an offspring, you
pick up those traits unconsciously, in case you haven't noticed.
You become your mom!

So that's how I happened, 1948, a rare mixture of classical
Juilliard boy meets country pinup girl, who, by the way, looked
like a cross between Jean Harlow and Marlene Dietrich with a
tinge of Elly May Clampett. And if God's in the details—and
we know She is—then I'm the perfect combination. I'm the N
in my parents' DNA. So now, if anyone's mad at me and calls me
a dick, I know they really mean Fort Dix. My daughter Chelsea
always thought God was a woman from the day she was born.
It was so nurturing hearing that from a child, that God would
have to be a woman, that I just never questioned it. (No wonder
I keep watching Oprah.)
Mom was a free spirit, a hippie before her time. She loved
folktales and fairy tales but hated Star Trek. She used to say,
"Why are you watching that? All the stories are from the
Bible.  .  . just six ways from Sunday. Get the Bible!" And I
thought, "Oh, boy, that's just what I wanna do after I've rolled
a doobie and I'm smokin' it with Spock." And by the way, that's
why teenagers today go, "Whatever!" But you know—and I can
only admit this in the cocktail hours of my life—SHE WAS
RIGHT!!!!! Isaac Asimov's I Robot, Aldous Huxley's Brave New
World, that's where they got their inspiration. In the same way
that Elvis got his sound from Sister Rosetta Tharpe (I dare you
to YouTube her right now), Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills, and Roy
Orbison. And they, in turn, begat the Beatles and they begat the
Stones and they begat Elton John, Marvin Gaye, Carole King,
and . . . Aerosmith. So study your rock history, son. That be the
Bible of the Blues.

I was three when we moved to the Bronx, to an apartment building
at 5610 Netherland Avenue, around the corner from where
the comic book characters Archie and Veronica supposedly lived
(I guess that makes me Jughead). We lived there till I was nine,
on the top floor, and the view was spectacular. I would sneak
out the window onto the fire escape on hot summer nights and
pretend I was Spider-Man. The living room was a magical space.
It was literally eight feet by twelve! There was a TV in the corner
that was dwarfed by Dad's Steinway grand piano. There's my dad
sitting at the piano, practicing three hours every day, and me
building my imaginary world under his piano.
It was a musical labyrinth where even a three-year-old
child could be whisked away into the land of psychoacoustics,
where beings such as myself could get lost dancing between the
notes. I lived under that piano, and to this day I still love

getting lost under the cosmic hood of all things. Getting into it.
Beyond examining the nanos, I want to know about what lives
in the fifth within a triad . . . as opposed to drinking a fifth!
I've certainly got the psycho part . . . now if I could only get
the acoustic part down (although I did write a little ditty called
"Season of Wither").

And that's where I grew up, under the piano, listening
and living in between the notes of Chopin, Bach, Beethoven,
Debussy. That's where I got that "Dream On" chordage. Dad
went to Juilliard and ended up playing at Carnegie Hall; when
I asked him, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?" he said, like
an Italian Groucho, "Practice, my son, practice." The piano was
his mistress. Every key on that piano had its own personal and
emotional resonance for him. He didn't play by rote. God, every
note was like a first kiss, and he read music like it was written
for him.

I remember crawling up underneath the piano and running
my fingers on top of the soundboards and feeling around. It was
a little dusty, and as I was looking up, dust spilled down and hit
me in the eyes—dust from a hundred years ago. . . ancient piano
dust. It fell in my eyes and I thought, "Wow! Beethoven dust—
the very stuff he breathed."

It was a full-blown Steinway grand piano, not a little upright
in the corner—a big shiny black whale with black and white
teeth that swims at the bottom of my mind and from a great
depth hums strange tunes that come from I know not where.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea had nothing on me.

Later on, I went back to visit 5610 Netherland Avenue. I
knocked on the door of apartment 6G, my old apartment. It had
been years, and the man who answered was drunk and in his
underwear and undershirt.
"Dad?" I asked. He cocked his head like Nipper, the RCA
"Hi, I'm—" I started to say.
"Oh, I know who you are," said he. "From the TV. . . . What
are you doin' here?"
"I used to live here," I said.
"Well raise my rent!" said he.


Excerpted from Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? by Steven Tyler Copyright © 2011 by Steven Tyler. Excerpted by permission of Ecco. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Semiprologue 1

1 Peripheral Visionary 5

2 Zits And Tits 37

3 The Pipe That Was Never Played 74

4 My Red Parachute (And Other Dreams) 85

5 Confessions Of A Rhyme-A-Holic 123

6 Little Bo Peep, The Glitter Queen, and The Girl in The Yellow Corvette 133

7 Noise In The Attic (Snow Days) 148

8 Ladies And Genitals ... I'm Not A Bad Guy (I'm Just Egotestical) 170

9 The Hood, The Bad, The Ugly ... Hammered with Hemingway 198

10 Food Poisoning At A Family Picnic 212

11 Getting Lost on Your Way to the Middle 247

12 Where You End and I Begin ... Again (The Goddess) 256

13 Trouble In Paradise (Losing Your Grip On The Life Fantastic) 265

13.5 The Bitch Goddess of Billboard 282

14 Holy Smoke, Quest for the Grand Pashmina, and The Big Chill of Twenty Summers 302

15 To Zanzibar And Back 329

16 Falling In Love Is Hard On The Knees 356

17 Take A Walk Inside My Mind ... 372

Acknowledgments 377

Index 387

What People are Saying About This

Paul McCartney

“Steven Tyler is one of the giants of American music, who’s been influential for a whole generation of Rock-n-Roll fans around the world. Long May He Rock!”

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