Archive for June, 2011

My review of the rock and roll memoir by Steven Tyler; Harper Collins, ©2011

I probably would not have purchased this book had I not elected to watch American Idol this spring, for the first time in 6 or 7 years. I started watching once the number of contestants had been whittled down to 13, and the final “live” shows began. I enjoyed the show this year for two reasons. For one thing, there was a good group of young singers who made it to the last weeks of the show. They were fun to watch as they developed into talented performing artists. The second reason was the new judge this year, Steven Tyler. I knew who he was, of course: one of the most famous rockers in the world, the front man of Aerosmith, the biggest, most famous American rock band. Tyler was hilarious as an AI  judge. He was also sympathetic (maybe even a little too much so) and prone to shoot from the lip. He was frequently bleeped, though we all knew what he was saying. I found him really likable, and enjoyed his non-critical remarks (he just wasn’t very hard on the kids.) When he performed his American classic, Dream On, on the final night of the show, I was truly hooked on Steven Tyler.
He wrote Dream On when he was only 17 years old, and he owns this song completely. He’s 63 years old now and he can still belt it out. His trademark wail on the high note was a classic and he virtually stole the show right there.  You can see this performance right here:
(Turn on your speakers, and go straight into ‘full screen mode’ on the YouTube clip.)


Back to the book. He holds nothing back, it seems, and comes clean on his life in rock and roll.
Born Steven Tallarico into an Italian family living in the Bronx, and raised partly in NYC and partly in Sunapee, NH, where his parents owned a summer resort, he was both a city boy, and a nature boy who loved the country life. It soon becomes clear to the reader that he decided at a very young age that all he wanted was to become a rocker.  And he wanted that for the reasons that have always driven young men into rock and roll: he wanted to sing, he wanted the girls, and he wanted that life. He got it in spades. Although when he was young he was mocked and called (unprintable here) names because of his big lips, as he matured he was likened to Mick Jagger and was frequently taken to BE Mick Jagger, because his lips were so similar to Mick’s. This similarity only increased young Steven’s desire to be a rocker. He wanted to become a wailer, a famous rocker. In fact, he even wanted to be like Janis Joplin, one of his idols. Well, you know what accompanies the rock life: all you have to do is look at the list of rockers who died young (e.g. Janis, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison.) The drugs got them. Steven Tyler freely admits that he blew through about 20 million dollars, all spent on drugs, and he outlines all those drugs and how he got them, in this book. Lord only knows how many women he slept with (that of course being a major reason for being a male rock star.)

And yet, as I read of his life of debauchery and drugs, I still could not help liking him.

He has a great sense of humour. He may not have pursued a formal education but he is well-read (literary references abound in his book) and he has a gift for writing both music and lyrics. He easily turns a rhyme at a drop of a hat, and loves to share the lyrics and the poetry that just come naturally to him (and comes probably more easily when he is high.)

He’s been to rehab four times. Relapsed badly several times, but between the 3rd and 4th rehab he was clean for 12 years! He slid back into drug use when he was on prescription pain killers after foot surgery. But he’s been clean again for over a year, it seems. And there he was, on American Idol, age 63, and he’s still standing! Good on you, Steven, and may you continue to entertain the world.

This was an entertaining (he’s so funny) and engrossing book. It is not for the faint of heart  and definitely not for the prudish. But if you think you would enjoy reading a biography/memoir that will reveal a  rock and roll life to you, this is your book.

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As promised, here are photos from my milestone  birthday party.

Thanks for coming, everyone!

Your presence was the best gift you could have given me.

It was wonderful to see you all.

(click on a photo to enlarge it)

Getting ready for the party

The table was set for afternoon tea.

I think we are almost ready for the party to start!

Miss Lily had a new dress for the party.

Birthday candles for the cake, which will come later.

Lots of pictures appeared, and some digital ones were in a slideshow on my iPad

Emily and Jake

David and Maggie with me

Rosemary and Claire

All the cousins together!

There is a very short video of the cousins getting ready for their photo shoot.

You can see it on my Facebook page.

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