Since I’ve Been Loving You 360

Led Zeppelin’s U.K. Tour in early 1973 marked a certain end of an era for their British fanbase.  This would be the last time you could catch a Zep show at a smaller intimate venue before their meteoric rise into a god-like stadium act.  The preceding two live installments of Since I’ve Been Loving You 360 were both stadium-era U.S. performances, but now we step back to the more humble, unpolished, small-time Zeppelin with a bootlegged Southampton University performance from January ’73.

Page impressively negotiates through the intro lickstorm despite a fairly vanilla, dry tone.  It even sounds like he throws in a rare fingertap @ 0:25! After a few loud guitar thrusts, Page goes unusually quiet – like so quiet you have raise a hand to hear.  Plant follows up with an unusually quiet, low-register vocal, accompanied by a barely-audible Jones and Page. I expected something loud, dense, and wet with delays and compressed overdrives – but I begin to relax as the performance makes me feel like I’m at a local Texas dive, bathed in second-hand smoke while stepping on spent cans of Lonestar.  The nakedness of the performance has a satisfying sincerity to it.  Page’s tone is pure unadulterated Gibson crunch, and you can practically hear the saturated tube buzz on his Orange Matamp in the background.

A stiff Plant starts to really loosen up on the second verse as he cries out “E’ry body tryin tell me, tell me, tell me, that you did me no good, no no no no no, oh darling, darling, darling!” – you can literally hear Plant run out of breath as he croaks out the last “darling” @ 2:45.  Page seems to fall asleep at this part as he lazily slides up and down the fretboard as he responds to Plant (a point where he usually does a violent tremolo pick).  Page concludes the second verse with a really soulful croon “I been a-workin been a-workin from seven to eleven every night, ooooh!” @3:00, once again illustrating how Plant never sings the same way twice.

Just before the guitar solo @ 3:35, Plant clarifies that he’s about to lose his “worried mind” for only five minutes, which is the second instance of this.  I am curious to know when/where Plant stopped providing this 5-minute clarification since it is not apparent by The Song Remains The Same performance in Madison Square Garden.

Page kicks off the solo as if half-asleep as he kind of pukes up a bunch of trashy riffs accompanied by some occasional open string buzz.  He wakes up about 30 seconds in and starts to crank out some of those calculated riffs we start hearing by the more polished American tour in late ’73.

The rest of the song is fairly textbook. The band delivers a cohesive performance which is much improved from a relatively sterile opening.  Now keep in mind Zeppelin were still warming up to that familiar big-time arena sound we know and love from The Song Remains The Same and How The West Was Won.  While the performance and the sound quality are obviously weaker, this early bootleg is packed with lovely intimate details such as mic feedback, string buzz, and even some voice cracks from Plant. You can even hear the band introduce a very early version of “Dancing Days” at the very end.

The next round we’ll cover another small-venue U.K. performance from Stoke ’73.  Stay tuned!

Since I’ve Been Loving You 360

Recorded in 1973, How The West Was Won (Atlantic) was released as a triple-album compilation of two back-to-back Led Zeppelin performances in Los Angeles. The album marks an important beginning of what has become a very long list of live Zeppelin bootlegs. In fact, How The West Was Won is little more than just a professionally mixed and mastered collection of bootlegged recordings owned by Jimi Page himself.

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” starts out as expected with Page’s classic four note intro- but what follows bears little resemblance to the more widely known studio and Song Remains The Same versions. As if bored or short on ideas, Page immediately starts out with some fast riffing- a hybrid cross between impromptu doodling and elements from his proper solo in the middle. I love how you can still hear open string buzz on Page’s playing- just a warm reminder that he is indeed mortal (or perhaps his guitar tech just set the strings too high). Despite it only being the song’s beginning, Page immediately starts cranking out those flashy-sloppy riffs of his. This throws me off at first, but I gradually start to dig it. Instead of unleashing the usual fiery torrents of minor pentatonic blues riffs, Page actually begins to delve into the major scale-which, whether intentional or accidental, provides the song with a lighter, more casual sound.

Robert Plant has a really great way of never singing the same two lyrics ever the same, and this version definitely proves that. This version is rife with little improvisations- “Plantisms”- into so many of his classic vocals. He’s sure to squeeze in a “have mercy I did what I could, yeah” just because he can. There are several really novel and funny call-and-response moments between Plant and Page, such as at 2:45 when Page croons, “I said I tried…oh…ow…OWW, I really tried to do the best I could”.  It sounds like Page is literally slapping Plant on the ass with guitar riffs! Plant also has a really great Prince moment in the way he shrieks that second “OW”. This is followed by, “working from seven, seven, seven, seven, seven, seven, seven to eleven every night” where Page dutifully accompanies Plant with repeated double-stop blues bends. I don’t even think Jagger and Richards ever had such a synergy on stage! Another favorite Plantism occurs at 3:24 when Plant sarcastically sings, “oh baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby baby”, which sounds more appropriate in a Broadway Rockette number than a greasy rock show.

Page’s solo is actually fairly similar to the previous two versions I reviewed. This is not wildly surprising considering The Song Remains the Same performance was filmed only months earlier. His sound quality and tone is thinner, but still impressive for being little more than a re-engineered bootleg.  Page starts throwing in subtle major and chromatic scale runs rather than his familiar minor pentatonic fireballing. The solo is cleanly played, but notably more improvised, unrehearsed and confused than his earlier performances.

Jimmy Page once said How The West Was Won captured Led Zeppelin at their “artistic peak”- which is a pretty titanic statement.  Having listened through the album only once or twice, I can neither confirm nor deny Page’s assessment.  I think he’s probably right, but Page’s statement will serve as benchmark for my continued research. I still think The Song Remains the Same is a stronger display of both Zeppelin’s performance and sound, but I realize my opinion is biased due to being religiously familiar with The Song Remains the Same, and the fact that the album was professionally recorded and edited unlike How The West Was Won.

Stay tuned for the next installment where I review a real bootleg of Zepp’s performance at Southampton University (1973).

Lorde – “Royals”

Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor, or simply Lorde, is probably the most interesting female pop singer to grace the genre since the American power duo of Gaga/Perry in 2008.  Lorde burst onto the music scene in mid 2013 with her international megahit, “Royals”, originally released on Love Club EP (which she self-released on Sound Cloud) and produced by Joel Little.  “Royals” skyrocketed to the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100, and thrived there for nine consecutive weeks before going six times platinum.


I don’t usually get pop songs stuck in my head for more than a few days, but “Royals” itched at my mind for several weeks- a feat usually only accomplished by great rock music.  I didn’t really begin to understand what Lorde was all about until I started watching her live performances online.  Her stage presence has a kind of primal rawness that I’ve never seen from a pop star.  She almost never opens her eyes when she sings, as if too overcome by her own music.  She doesn’t really dance, instead succumbing to seizure-like moments while clawing the air as if exorcising some kind of demon from within (probably the same demon plaguing Anthony Keidis).  She contorts violently in sync with the heavy kicks that pervade most of her music, as if constantly being electrocuted.  Her live performance is perpetually strained and frustrated.  She comes off as erotic, pissed off, and fascinating all at the same time.

Complimenting her enigmatic stage presence, and far more importantly, is her brilliant songwriting ability.  Throughout “Royals”, Lorde smartly transitions between two narrators:  a naïve child lusting for the glitz and glamour of fame, and a cynical realist who accepts her mundanely average lot in life.  The song establishes itself with a pretty basic tribal-sounding beat.  While technically simple, the sound of the drums/snaps is grandiose (just the perfect amount of reverb)- and in keeping with the song’s title.    Lorde begins by singing,

I cut my teeth on wedding rings in the movies.  I immediately think to myself, what the hell kind of sixteen year-old girl thinks like that?!  Normally cutting your teeth is a phrase reserved for street hustlers or battle-hardened war vets, not teeny boppers watching Romcoms.   Brilliant lyric.

No postcode envy – I wanted to believe Lorde was referencing some deep existential observation on culture or something (Post-Code Envy?), but then I realized that’s just what people outside the U.S. call zipcodes…whatever, cool lyric nonetheless!

Then the hip hop pre-chorus kicks in with the hi-hats on the sixteenths as Lorde starts name dropping brands and imagery associated with the rich.  Our naïve narrator takes us into the chorus as she abruptly snaps out of her silly daydreaming with the lyric; we’re not caught up in your love affair, and we’ll never be royals.

It is in the chorus that Lorde reveals her true lyrical genius.  This new narrator guides us through a bittersweet catharsis in which she accepts her mediocre place in the world.

It don’t run in our blood.  That kinda luxe just ain’t for us, we crave a different kind of buzz  – Whether intentional or not, some clever wordplay with the use of poor grammar, perhaps a blue collar reference?  The narrator begins to wake up and realize that what she really needs is what she already has- friends, family, spirituality, meaningful interpersonal relationships.  Life’s simplest, though sometimes most elusive pleasures.

Let me be your ruler.  You can call me Queen Bee.  And baby we’ll rule, and we’ll live that fantasy – The new narrator reaches full maturity as she redefines her new worldview.  Instead of allowing herself to get depressed over unattainable dreams, she optimistically decides to take ownership, or should I say Lordeship, over her lame reality.

My friends and I – we’ve cracked the code.

We count our dollars on the train to the party.

And everyone who knows us knows that we’re fine with this, we didn’t come from money.

This reinvented and reinvigorated narrator takes us into the second verse, confidently accepting her new kingdom of ordinary reality.  The music subtly builds with a really lovely vocal harmony and a cool reverse-synth line on the “and” of the beat.  The song’s drum ‘n bass minimalism is fantastic, and reminiscent of the Bristol sound of the early Nineties.  The song ends with a brief relapse into daydreaming with the pre-chorus, but we wake up, realizing once again that “we’ll never be royals”.

I highly recommend watching the music video in order to fully understand the genius of the song.  Directed by Joel Kefali, it’s a bizarrely simple montage of an ordinary middle class white dude doing ordinary middle class white dude things (minus a boxing match in the living room).  Sure it’s boring, but that’s exactly the kind of kingdom being referenced in the song.

Lorde’s universal message crosses all boundaries- if we cannot rule the world, we can always rule ourselves (echoing the genius of her Tears for Fears forebears).  When our vain, shallow quests for fame and fortune fail, we can at least be rulers of our own domains, no matter how uninteresting they are.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Royals” is secretly an indictment of our own narcissistic tendencies as a culture.  Perhaps Lorde is just making fun of all of us who elate in our disposable social media empires of food pictures, buzzfeed shares, and status updates at the gym.

It’s utterly mind-blowing Lorde wrote this when she was sixteen.  She is clearly wise beyond her years.  She’s a complicated chick and it shows.  Unlike her contemporaries such as Iggy Izaelea or Charlie XCX, Lorde processes her newfound fame in a far more intellectual and cynical way rather than merely celebrating it.  With the exception of maybe Aerosmith’s “Eat the Rich”, Lorde’s “Royals” is the most intriguing and powerful slam of not only the rich and famous, but of us all.

Since I’ve Been Loving You 360 – Original Studio Version

I present to you the original studio version from Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic, 1970). The song sounds almost out of place on what is largely an acoustic oriented record. How Page and Plant could conceive a greasy 7 minute working-class blues jam whilst peacefully tucked away in Bron-Yr-Aur cottage still remains a great mystery to me. Despite the serenity of the English countryside, Zeppelin still somehow found the requisite angst to record a fairly pissed off blues rocker.

A little backstory: My first exposure to the studio version was on a pair of small laptop speakers in a hotel room in Roswell, New Mexico. It was early 2010 and my Navy flight training required me to detach to Roswell for a few weeks. My good friends Justin Tiemeyer, Adam Friedli, and Tom Mitsos came to visit me and we made a spring break out of it. It had been only two or three months since my initial discovery of Led Zeppelin, and it was Justin who introduced me to the studio version on his mixtape Bottomless.  Where better a place to explore Led Zeppelin than the deserts of the American Southwest? I really liked this version, but I didn’t fully understand it. Having been wildly addicted to the incendiary Song Remains the Same live version, I was a little confused by how quiet and subdued the studio version sounded- but like a fine wines, cigars or Radiohead albums, the greatness took time to grasp.

The song kicks off with that unmistakable 4 note blues riff (which Page actually borrowed from Jeff Beck on The Yardbirds “New York City Blues”). Page continues to play a very mellow and cautious intro (likely on the neck tone pickup) up until about 0:48 when he unleashes that signature hammer-on fireball riff just to let you know he means business.

The dominant cracks of Bonham’s drums provide a necessary weight to an otherwise quiet track. Plant’s airy vocals begin unassumingly, and provide the track with an almost meditative calmness. The chorus bursts in, driven by John Paul Jones’ honky organ playing- which is actually wilder and more pronounced here than on The Song Remains the Same. By the second verse, Plant lights the fire in his voice which presents a welcome contrast to the timidity of the first verse.

Page’s solo begins with a ferocious torrent of hammer-ons down the pentatonic scale (a phrase occasionally used by David Gilmour, but at a fraction of the tempo). Page’s solo is a constant battle between sloppy shreds and cleanly executed blues riffs. The sloppy/clean thing Page does on the solo sounds carefully rehearsed, however I was impressed to discover that Page actually recorded the entire solo in one take! The solo ends with a very staccato rendition of that timeless Chuck Berry riff and then a moment of silence to let the flames die out.

Plant cuts in and takes the song to its darkest and most desperate moment when he sings “make-a-life a draaag!” at 6:06. How a rock singer can both growl and sing at the same time is anyone’s guess. Page cooly arpeggiates over alternating Cm and Fm shapes while being guided by Bonham and Jones’ rhythm machine. The song ends after Plant pleads for “just one mo!” before he loses his worried mind for the first of many, many more times.

The Song Remains the Same version is heavy and sloppy, whereas the studio version is cool, precise, and has a brilliant sense of space. This one breathes, whereas the former is one long exhalation of fire and venom.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Since I’ve Been Loving You 360 when I explore a lesser known live version from How The West Was Won (Atlantic, 1972).

Since I’ve Been Loving You 360

I’m here to kick off the music portion of this blog, FM109.  I’ll leave you to figure out the title.  I’m going to christen FM109 with a series I’ve wanted to do for some time – a 360 degree analysis of every available recording of Led Zeppelin’s blues epic “Since I’ve Been Loving You”.  Set in C minor, the song is a generous 7+ minute non-radio friendly canvas on which Page and Plant unleash a fiery brand of blues unheard of before the 1970s- a blues that is uniquely Led Zeppelin.  While Led Zeppelin I and II both featured many great blues tracks (“You Shook Me”, “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, “The Lemon Song”, “Whole Lotta Love”), they were clearly just beefed up, “Zeppelin-ized” versions- dare I say even ripoffs- of Chicago Blues greats, the likes of which include Willie Dixon, Albert King, and Howlin’ Wolf.  It wasn’t until Led Zeppelin III (Atlantic, 1970) that the band truly came into their own, commercially and artistically.  Despite Led Zeppelin III being largely an acoustic folk record (it was brutally criticized for trying to capitalize off the recent success of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), the band ironically spawned what is perhaps their greatest electric blues standard.

“Since I’ve Been Loving You” became a live staple for the band in the early 70’s.  I find this song so fascinating because it is easily one of the most dynamic, expressive, and interpretative of all of Zeppelin’s live songs.  I want to emphasize just how brilliantly Jones and Bonham provide an organic, sentient universe in which Page and Plant are free to expand the boundaries of their Chicago blues roots.  No two versions are ever alike.

It was December of 2009.  I was living alone in south Texas where I spent my days essentially doing three things: learning to fly planes for the Navy, playing video games, and learning to play rock ‘n roll on my guitar.  I had primarily been studying the guitarwork of a very select few players- Jonny Greenwood, Hendrix, Prince, John Frusciante, and David Gilmour.  I had grown up with only cursory exposure to Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin, but I’d never really fallen in love with their music.  I was familiar with all their hits, but I’d always dismissed Zeppelin as being too popular, too flashy, and too gritty.  Growing up, you were either a Zeppelin guy or a Pink Floyd guy.  I was always the latter, preferring the soaring, majestic tear-jerking Stratocaster soul of the mighty David Gilmour.  My life changed forever when “Since I’ve Been Loving You” from The Song Remains the Same (Live at Madison Square Garden ’73) started playing on the Palladia music channel on my TV.

It was a side of Jimmy Page, let alone Led Zeppelin, I had never heard before.  It was dark, mysterious, flashy, and very heavy- yet strangely soft, calculated, sensual, and I never thought I’d say this of Page, but beneath those lightning fast chops he actually had soul.  Having primarily been a disciple of the David Gilmour school of rock, my mind was getting blown by how much I loved what Jimmy Page was doing on that sunburst ’59 Les Paul Custom (given to him as a gift from Joe Walsh).  I couldn’t quite make sense of it, but his explosive blues riffs (2:00) were so perfectly parsed between little moments of tranquility (0:28, 3:14).  The interplay between Plant’s crooning and Page’s sassy little blues stutters wrenched at my heart (1:33).  And then the chorus kicks in with an almost heavy metal level of explosion (2:10).  Page’s monstrous guitar solo begins with a tidal wave of pentatonic hammer-ons, followed brilliantly by these calculated little bluesy statements (4:20).  Watch at 3:55 when he’s nearly blown off balance by the sheer force of his own riff!  Page then ends the solo with one of the sassiest, most arrogant guitar riffs ever played in the history of rock (4:56).  My reaction was basically identical to that of the jaw-dropped cop (5:10).  Jimmy is wild and sloppy, his tone trashy, yet the solo so perfectly conveys the tortured desperation of Plant’s star-crossed protagonist.  The song reaches its darkest, most hopeless point exactly at 6:26 when it changes to the D minor.  This blue-collar lament tells a bleak story of romance strained by hard times.   Maybe it’s because I had gone through a few strained relationships?  Or maybe it was the stress of flight school?  Maybe it was simply because I was older and more world weary, but this song made perfect sense to me.  It was mine.  My exploration of Led Zeppelin had finally begun.

Rick Rubin once described Led Zeppelin as being one of the heaviest bands of all time.  The Song Remains the Same version of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” definitely makes me believe him.  Until my research proves otherwise, this version is the heaviest, loudest raunchiest, most explosive of them all- my longtime personal favorite.

Epic Fail: A Tale of Steven Tyler and His Terrible Thumbs

If the phrase “Epic Fail” was ever truly warranted for a situation (with the exception of Katy Perry lyrics of course), then it would have to be the time Steven Tyler of Aerosmith “fat fingered” the record button on my Apple iPhone.

I was finishing my final weeks of a six-month military deployment in El Salvador during the fall of 2013. I was stationed there to fly counter-drug operations as a Navy P-3 Orion pilot. Life on deployment was reduced to the bare essentials – eat, sleep, workout, guitar, video games, and a whole lotta of flying. In short, deployment basically ruled. This particular deployment, however, ruled even more when a band of rock ‘n roll legends showed up to my workplace.

I was lifting weights in the small on base gym, dubbed “The Boneyard”, when one of the other pilots asked me if I heard that Steven Tyler was visiting the base in two days. I of course had no idea, and immediately assumed he was pulling my chain since I had earned a reputation as a diehard lover of 80s music. He said he was serious and that he overheard base security talking about preparing for his arrival. Skeptical, I checked the tour list on the Aerosmith website and sure enough, Aerosmith had an upcoming concert date in downtown San Salvador in four days. My initial skepticism was dissolved when my brain connected this fact with the facts that 1.) Our base was attached to El Salvador International Airport and 2.) Steven Tyler is a complete publicity whore (meant in the nicest way possible). My pupils dilated and heart started racing – I was going to meet Aerosmith.

Giddy like a schoolgirl, I raced to Facebook to consult my two closest Aerosmith confidants – Micah and Justin Tiemeyer. I was introduced to #ProjectKaramazov when Justin requested that I record Steven Tyler reciting a passage from Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. For any other celebrity I would of thought twice, but with Steven Tyler, the bizarre task actually seemed plausible.

In the two days leading up to the supposed visit, I noticed base security started to beef up. On the day prior to the Aerosmith concert, the base scheduled an unusually late “Quarters” (military version of a large scale meeting). Typically Quarters is held in the morning, so it was very unusual to have it so late in the day- but this only confirmed my expectation of the awesomeness that was about to unfold. It was a typical afternoon in El Salvador with grey skies and thunderstorms building in the distance. I show up at the hangar for Quarters in my flight suit and I notice some of the permanent staff had brought their wives and girlfriends. They all had lots of makeup and had their hair done up nicely. They basically looked like groupies. I could feel the rock concert aura already brewing. I was beginning to feel anxious. Would I even be capable of having a coherent conversation with the band? Would I be too overcome by reverence and awe to carry out the solemn task Justin had charged me with? My self-doubt was building with every passing minute…

Before I continue the story, let me take a moment to properly address the importance Aerosmith in my life. I was formally introduced to rock music at the age nine by an older neighborhood friend. It was 1994 and he gave me my first mixtape (an actual cassette tape) consisting mainly of Green Day and Offspring tracks. I listened to this mixtape guiltily in my bedroom because of all the swearing. I felt like such a rebel. I have many fond memories of going to his house and listening to tapes for hours, the likes of which included 90s greats such as REM, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Rage Against the Machine, and Cypress Hill. It was here that I had my first experience with Aerosmith when I listened to the tape with the cover of the weird dummy head pierced with nails – the “Livin On The Edge” single. I couldn’t remember the song, but I always remembered the crazy ass cover. It would be another four years (which seemed like an eternity) before I would discover Aerosmith in earnest. Every Thursday after school I would go to a church youth group with my best friend Micah. My friend Mike Burns from church offered to sell me his three Aerosmith CDs, Permenant Vacation, Pump, and Get a Grip. I had a strange falling out with music during the last year, mainly because I associated people I hated from Middle School with late 90s pop that played every day on the schoolbus (Aqua, Chumbawumba, Sugar Ray, etc). But it was when Micah wisely advised me to buy these Aerosmith CDs that my life changed forever. I spent hours and hours in my room listening through “Get a Grip”. I felt like a bona fide badass. I knew the words to every track. I felt enlightened and superior to all the posers groveling over pop music. I simply could not get over the power and rawness of Steven Tyler’s vocals and lyrics. The fire and venom behind the guitarwork of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford utterly blew my mind. Pop music in 1998 was shamefully bereft of proper rock ‘n roll, and Steven Tyler was like the angel Gabriel trumpeting me into musical heaven. Finally, music that made me feel cool. This music made me feel like I could conquer anything. These three Aerosmith albums planted the seed of rock ‘n roll in my soul, and I never looked back.

So fast forward to the military base in 2013. Aerosmith, in the flesh, casually strolls through the hangar door and my childhood heroes are standing before me. The band looked a lot shorter and more haggard than the photos, but Steven Tyler was in good spirits as always. He made a few opening statements thanking us for our service, and then the band split up and walked around to meet us. I knew that 90% of the crowd had only superficial knowledge and love for Aerosmith, but I on the other hand, understood them. Unmarried at the time, Tyler had his latest squeeze shadowing him everywhere- so rock ‘n roll! While my primary task was to talk to Tyler, I was personally far more interested in talking to lead guitarist and all-around-legend, Joe Perry. My heart racing at the sheer surreal-ness of what was happening, I find the courage to approach Joe Perry. He was answering some generic questions about his age and signing autographs when I clarified that he first played in The Jam Band in the 60s. Perry broke his stone face and cracked a smile at me- he immediately knew I was an actual fan. As a guitarhead myself, I went straight for the jugular and started talking guitars with Joe Perry. He told me about his first guitar (a Silvertone acoustic) and his preference for Marshall amps. I told him he should play Fender guitars more often, and he laughed and said he tries to play all his guitars equally. Steven Tyler clearly had the biggest crowd following him, so I expected a long wait before I could approach him.


We all moved outside for a photo op with our P-3’s. “The Get Your Wings” references ran abound in my mind, and I desperately craved the presence of Micah and Justin to share this mind blowing experience with. After 30 minutes or so, the allure began to wear off and people started dissipating. I couldn’t fully comprehend why people wouldn’t want to spend every second in Aerosmith’s presence, but then I remembered that 99% of the crowd probably didn’t understand and love Aerosmith the way I did. I’m pretty sure half of my peers only knew Steven Tyler from either two things- the loud judge from American Idol or Liv Tyler’s dad. The band eventually requested a tour of our P-3 Orion airplanes and I, along with a handful of other crewmembers, happily obliged. I started with Brad Whitford who spoke quietly, but had a lot of genuine questions about the plane. What are all these holes in the bottom of the plane for? What’s that long phallic object protruding from the tail? I almost felt like I was explaining my plane to an old World War II vet (no offense to Whitford as he still has killer blues guitar chops that no one knows about). Having nothing else to autograph, I gave him a patch from my flight suit. I walked him up the ladder toward the inside of the plane. I met up with Tyler and Perry and showed them all the highlights from our ancient airplane. Whitford had fun playing around with the joysticks. Tyler and Perry sat down in the cockpit and started asking lots of questions. I had to keep pinching myself as my two great childhood dreams were fusing in perfect harmony – Aviation and Aerosmith – this was too perfect. The band whose albums I jammed to while playing flight simulator games on my computer were right here before me- in MY airplane. I desperately wanted to stop talking about my job and start talking details about Aerosmith, but Steven “loudmouth” Tyler kept getting distracted and asked too many questions about the cockpit. I was super surprised to discover Joe Perry was a pilot himself, having received his basic pilot’s license. Speaking in a quiet, monotone Boston accent, Joe told me about the time he almost crashed into a power line buzzing Steven Tyler’s Massachusetts home. He said he has a little over 25 hours flying little single engine planes and that he uses the same airport diagrams that we use in our P3’s. The Toxic Twins eventually exited the cockpit and I felt intimate enough with them to start asking about their music. “So, Steven I heard you were the one that wrote Seasons of Wither?” (one of my favs). He casually confirmed this and elaborated that he wrote it during a cold Boston winter on an old acoustic guitar Joey Kramer found in a dumpster. I giddily asked if they could play Seasons of Wither during their show tomorrow but I don’t think they heard me. I was beginning to feel like protagonist from Almost Famous.


Aerosmith gathered by the main cabin door for one last photo op with the crew, which is when I found the nerve to ask Tyler to read the Karamazov excerpt. I told him it was for a fan project and I was terrified he would go all Prince on me and decline due to copyright reasons. Having seen and experienced all the weirdness of the 70s, 80s and 90s, there was not a request too weird for Steven Tyler. He didn’t talk back and acquiesced to my demand with a straight face as I handed him my iPhone. I told him to “just press the red button” and read the excerpt. I didn’t verify the recording until Aerosmith departed the tarmac in a long convoy of white minivans. It was then that I discovered the absence of the Karamazov recording, and a colossal wave of disappointment washed over me. I felt like Darth Vader at the end of Episode III – NOOOOOOO!!! I never found out why it didn’t record, but I suspected it was because Tyler either fat fingered the ‘record’ button, or pressed the OTHER button on the Voice Memos page. Epic fail.

Note for all future celebrity voice memo recording: PRESS THE RECORD BUTTON YOURSELF, prior to handing it over to the celeb. I eventually forgave myself for this failure, and had a blast at the concert the next day. The show was made even better when Joe Perry smacked my squadron’s sticker on his turquoise Strat and gave a shout out to the “47 Group”. No Seasons of Wither unfortunately, but a killer concert nonetheless. While I realize the unfortunate truth that Aerosmith has become irrelevant in this day and age, they can still play better, louder, and with more balls and swagger than bands 1/3 their age. Long live rock ‘n roll. Long live Aerosmith.