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In Defense of Aerosmith

February 6, 2012

Aerosmith-Four Talented Musicians and Steven Tyler

Today I made a momentuous discovery: It is impossible to be completely unhappy when you’re listening to Aerosmith.

I make no attempt to defend Aerosmith as truly great music. The bands music and lyrics are nowhere near the caliber of Radiohead, Damien Rice, Sufjan Stevens or even classic rock compatriots like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Interestingly enough, Steven Tyler’s father was a Julliard graduate, which was part of what gave Steven Tyler his love of music.

The thing that I feel is Aerosmith’s main strength is that they are probably the most fun band ever. The band took the popular blues-based rock of their time and turned it into a party for the ears. There’s something irresistible about a Joe Perry guitar lick—like all he wants when he plays the guitar is for people to get up and dance. And when Steven Tyler sings (or screams), he may not be a technically skilled singer, sounds like he’s having. Despite the internal tensions which I’m sure have followed the band throughout their career, they’re able to put on an image of fun and enjoyment.

I think that the best thing about Aerosmith is that their music legitimately gives me joy. There’s no pretentiousness to their music. They’re not making an artistic statement and they know that they’re not. They’re just out to have fun.

Steven Tyler is one of the great entertainers of our time, but he sure ain't a looker.

In regards to the sleazy nature of their music and lyrics; Yes, Aerosmith is sleazy and I wouldn’t hold up the Toxic Twins as role models. But I feel that the “bad things” that their music encourages pale in comparison to what much of the other music that we Christians listen to promotes. Aerosmith’s vices generally fall into that of Bachanallian excesses. While the sins of Bachanallian excesses are bad, I believe that sins of the mind are worse. I feel like I am more likely to be negatively impacted by darker and more talented bands like Metallica and Radiohead whose music tends toward the sins of isolation and hatred rather than Aerosmith; “Master of Puppets” and “Paranoid Android” have been worse for my moral state of being than “Walk This Way.”

Also, I think it would be instructive to compare Aerosmith and their immorality with the sleazier singers of today. Whenever Aerosmith performed a song, no matter what the song was about, they communicated a sense of joy in the performing of the song. When some singer like Lady Gaga or Dev (“D-D-D-ancing in the D-D-Dark”) sing a song about doing immoral and wicked things, you don’t feel that they have any joy in the performance of the song. They sound boring and depressed. This is not to justify anything immoral that Aerosmith has done, just to set their work in context. Martin Luther wrote

The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God….Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.” 

Aerosmith’s music gives people joy, true joy, and this is something that is totally antithetical to the Devil’s purposes, no matter what the band’s motivations or personal morality. Also, they have performed many excellent songs that aren’t dirty, like “Dream On,” “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing,” “Jaded,” “Angel,” and others.

Who would you rather listen to: This person...

Or these guys? It's no question to me.

And yet another reason to praise Aerosmith is their durability. The band has put out amazing material in four decades, and has managed to adapt to each decade, taking the popular sounds of that time and mixing it with their own signature style.

In the future, I don’t think Aerosmith will be remembered as musical innovators. I don’t think they would want to be. I think that the entire goal of Aerosmith was to be entertaining (something insecure indie-rocker types should keep in mind) and they succeeded marvelously. They are the best at what they do.

Hey guys, we won the "Best-dressed" award!

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