Should Steven Tyler’s private life change how we feel about Walk This Way?

Metal Hammer

On 15 December, 1974, Joe Perry was tooling around with a riff at a soundcheck in Honolulu. The Aerosmith guitarist often warmed-up with some James Brown and had been listening to New Orleans funk band The Meters, a band renowned for their choppy, minimalist grooves. The band jammed around the funky riff he’d come up with and later that month tried working it up in the studio during the recording of Toys In The Attic in New York.

At a break in recording, the band went to see Mel Brooks’ movie Young Frankenstein. Tickled by the famous scene in which Marty Feldman’s Igor asks Gene Wilder to “Walk this way” and Wilder doesn’t just follow but also copies Igor’s limp, the band told Steven Tyler: “There’s your title! Get writing.”

Tyler rose to the challenge, eventually penning a lyric about teenage sexuality, from the point of view of a young man learning how to please women. “Walk this way” became a euphemism for fingering a girl’s clitoris – letting your fingers do the walking – while “talk this way” became an instruction for how to properly go “down on the muffin”. In doing so, it became one of the few male-penned rock songs about female pleasure, perhaps no surprise from a band whose Get Your Wings logo featured a winged, hairy ‘A’ with a clitoris.


The back of Get Your Wings: their early logo featured a winged, hairy ‘A’ with a clitoris (Image credit: Aerosmith)

Tyler had started out as a drummer and had developed a percussive singing style. The verse lyrics of Walk This Way were delivered as a series of snappy rhymes, a funky rap that made perfect sense when Run DMC later covered the song in 1986. The Run DMC/Aerosmith version became a cross-cultural hit, rescuing Aerosmith’s career, and putting rap music on MTV and into the bedrooms of white teenagers across the world. For a track inspired by the grooves and rhythms of black America, it was a sweet bit of karma. 


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