Originally called 'Rag Time' because of its Delta roots, 'Rag Doll' was written by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Jim Vallance. The title was altered because John Kalodner of Geffen records didn't like it, so he sent in rock singer Holly Knight to change it. It was Knight who suggested 'Rag Doll' as an alternative, but the song still has some New Orleans sounds with Tyler's scat singing, heavy bass and the use of a horn section.
Another hit from the 1987 album 'Permanent Vacation', 'Angel' is a song written by Steven Tyler and guitarist Brad Whitford about the struggles of getting sober. By 1990, Steven Tyler announced in an interview that though he loved the song, it was overplayed so much that it drove him crazy. Perhaps because of this, the song isn't often played live.
'What it Takes'
Aerosmith often reference other songs within their songs, and 'What It takes' is no exception. "Girl, before I met you I was F.I.N.E. - fine" directly refers to another song on the album 'Pump,' and the line "Leave your life to the toss of the dice" refers to the 'Love in an Elevator' verse "Betting on the dice I'm tossing." During live performances, the first verse is sung a cappella before the explosion of sound in the chorus.
'Cryin' was part of a trilogy of music videos starring Alicia Silverstone, who later went on to star in 'Clueless.' The video follows a teenage girl who catches her boyfriend cheating and is now dealing with the end of the relationship. Interestingly, Silverstone only met the band once. The song also features a rare harmonica solo and guitar solos from both Brad Whitford and Joe Perry.
'Janie's Got a Gun'
'Janie' was originally 'Danny' after one of Steven Tyler's friends, but was morphed into a song about Janie, a girl who seeks revenge on her father who had sexually abused her, inspired by an article Tyler read about gunshot victims, which was later connected to child abuse. The iconic music video is directed by David Flincher, who later directed films such as 'Seven,' 'Fight Club,' and 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.'
'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing'
'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' is one of the few songs Aerosmith performs live that was not written by the band. The single was written by Diane Warren for the movie 'Armageddon' (starring Tyler's daughter, Liv) and the track was originally intended to be performed by U2. Aerosmith was a second choice, turning out to be one of the band's greatest hits debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and remaining at the top for four weeks in 1998.
'Dude (Looks Like a Lady)'
'Dude (Looks Like a Lady)' was Aerosmith's comeback single in 1987, after Run-DMC's cover of 'Walk this Way' reignited Aerosmith's music career. The song was inspired by Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe. Tyler explained in his autobiography 'Walk this Way,' "One day we met Mötley Crüe, and they're all going, 'Dude!' Dude this and Dude that, everything was Dude. 'Dude (Looks Like a Lady)' came out of that session."
'Walk this Way'
Considered by some to be Aerosmith's signature song, 'Walk This Way' was one of the group's most successful singles. In 1975, the original single was released on the album 'Toys in the Attic'. The recording process had some obstacles. Steven Tyler realized he left the lyrics he wrote in a cab and frantically wrote down lyrics just before the recording session. The Run-DMC's version, featuring Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, gave Aerosmith renewed success over 10 years later in 1986.
This song is allegedly about tensions between the band and Joe Perry's wife, though Steven Tyler only confesses that some of the lyrics are about her, Perry was known as Mr. Sweet Emotion. The original version has a bass and talk box introduction, which was taken out when the song was re-released taken out on later releases. The song also features innovative "instruments" such as shotguns and sugar bags.
'Dream On' is Aerosmith's first and perhaps greatest hit. The song would also end up saving the band. It was thanks to the success of 'Dream On' that Columbia records decided against dropping the group. Steven Tyler wrote the song at 17 on piano, and says that this song is about "the hunger to be somebody. Dream until your dreams come true."