Steven Tyler‘s autobiography is not for the faint of heart. Goody-goodies stay away…or expect to put in a lot of time, because you will not be able to read this book all at once and will spend a chunk of time shaking your head in dismay.
It took me a long time to read it. I kept looking for depth (the guy’s well into his 60′s, so if he wasn’t deep before, you’d think that with age, he may have gained some). And some parts of the book are so far from where I want to be that I couldn’t even go there in a book. I had to keep coming back to it, determined to finish it.
Not that there aren’t any readable parts, but they are few and far between; especially after the first chapter and during the first half of the book. The writing has a strong tendency to lack heart. It seems like you’re just reading a long list of stuff that happened to a giant ego that’s proud of having done some seriously deranged things; things you’d rather not know that other people actually do. (Read parts of Chapter 2, for example, you’ll know what I’m talking about.) It’s mostly empty and devastating: this happened, then that happened, after that the other thing happened….crime, sex, drugs, music, sex, drugs, crime, sex, sex, sex, drugs, drugs, music….really…sad, disturbing and boring.
And, now, for the positive side of it all. There are parts that are interesting and, even, have heart, which are the parts that draw you in. For example, when he writes about the fairies in the forest around his parent’s cottage or trying to communicate with aliens when he was a child…clearly, he was imaginative right from the start…or when he writes with passion about music in the first chapter. Or, the honesty in describing detox:
“While you’re going through detox, you’ve got to believe in something other than a pill craving and fuck me and fuck you and I’ve got to have it. You can knock the idea of some Higher Power, but you’ve got to believe in something or you’re just going to sink back into the muck. You’ve go to try and see things from a different place. I’m now thirty light years away from that person I was the, yet twelve years later I sill had to get tweaked again.”
On page 243, he talks about how he came up with the lyrics to “Dude Looks Like a Lady” (interesting because you get a glimpse of the creative process) and why he stood behind them (“…in a commercial world, it’s good, and not only is it good, but it gets under the hood of what everyone hides: the gay thing”). Chapters 11 and 12, may also be interesting as he talks about what touring is really like (exhausting, pricey and you’re little more than a money making machine) and what being married or having a significant other in the industry is like (ultimately, it’s a case of back to being lonely). In a nutshell, the second half of the book is better; more real.
Oprah recently did an hour-long show interviewing Steven Tyler. They talked about the book, among other things.
(Note to self: don’t read rock’n'roll biographies if you can’t handle it.) (Further note to self: lighten up!)