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Sweet Emotion

by

Aerosmith



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Steven Tyler wrote this about how frustrated he was with the band. They were doing a lot of drugs at the time and tensions often ran high, especially between Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry. The song is also a statement about doing your own thing without letting others bring you down.
Tyler attributes the first lines, "Talk about things that nobody cares, wearing out things things that nobody wears," to Joe Perry's girlfriend Elissa because of the incredible amount of tension between them. A lot of this tension was caused by their drug use, and in particular one night when Tyler came to Perry's hotel room looking for heroin, and he and Elissa sent him away, refusing to share their drugs. In the Aerosmith autobiography Walk This Way, Tyler says these lines were his "angry side talking, and adds that when he wrote the lyrics, "Can't say baby where I'll be in a year," he was thinking, "but it will be at least 1000 miles away from you!"
The music was based on the bass line Tom Hamilton came up with. Tyler wrote the lyrics (Perry was known as "Mr. Sweet Emotion"), and they put the song together in a jam session.

Hamilton says it was the band's producer, Jack Douglas, who coaxed the bassline out of him. Near the end of recording for the Toys In The Attic album, Douglas asked if anyone in the band had some spare riffs lying around, and Hamilton produced this one, which went over well with his bandmates. Hamilton recalls in Walk This Way: "I smoked a bowl or two and wrote the arrangements, the guitar parts. Steven took the intro, turned it around, changed key, and we used it as the tag, the resolution of the song. Brad, Joey, and I went home. Next time we heard 'Sweet Emotion,' it had the overdubs, the vocals, and I flipped out. I loved what they did with it."
There is a hidden message buried in this track, but what that message says depends on who you ask. The band did some clapping and chanting that was played backward, creating the sucking noise in the song. What they chanted had to do with their manager, Frank Connelly, who had been diagnosed with cancer and sold rights to manage the band to the team of Steve Leber and David Krebs. According to Steven Tyler, they were chanting, "F--k you, Frank," but their producer Jack Douglas says it was "Thank you, Frank."
This was re-released in 1991 to promote their Pandora's Box compilation. A video was shot for it featuring a young man having phone sex with what he believes is a beautiful young lady. At the end of the video, we find out she is a fat chain smoker with a few kids.
Joe Perry used a talkbox to create the distorted vocal sounds at the beginning. Peter Frampton used a talkbox with spectacular success on his 1976 album, Frampton Comes Alive.
According to Rolling Stone's Top 500 Singles, "As the sessions for Toys in the Attic reached the eleventh hour at the Record Plant in New York, producer Douglas called out for ideas. Bassist Hamilton resurrected a riff that had been germinating for several years, and it was outfitted with bass marimba and Joe Perry's voice-box recitation of the song title. A few months later, Aerosmith had their first Top 40 single."
The live version of this song features an unusual instrument: Tyler shook a packet of sugar into the microphone to substitute missing maracas.
This song, as well as "Eat The Rich," "Toys In The Attic" and "Walk This Way," was used in the arcade game Revolution X: Music Is The Weapon featuring Aerosmith. It appears during the stage select screen at the end of a level. (thanks, Gordo - Lab City, Canada, for above 2)
In their early days, Van Halen used to cover this at some of their shows. Papa Roach also did a cover of this song. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
This song is played at the end of the movie Starsky And Hutch. It is at the very end when they are walking down the alley. (thanks, Ben - Winston-Salem, NC)
This plays in the opening of the movie Dazed and Confused. A recurring theme in the film are the characters mentioning going to Houston to buy Aerosmith tickets as "top priority of the summer." A connection: Jason London, who played Randall "Pink" Floyd in the film, starred in Aerosmith's video for "Amazing."
In the movie Be Cool starring John Travolta, Steven Tyler is asked what he was thinking when he wrote "Sweet Emotion." He first responds that it was the buzz he got from the album Toys In The Attic, but after a short speech from Travolta, Tyler agrees that it was the pure "Sweet Emotion" that he was experiencing with from his young daughters that influenced the lyrics of the song.
In a rare live version of this song, Joe Perry plays the solo from the Led Zeppelin song "Dazed And Confused." (thanks, Brian - Salisbury, MD, for above 2)
Aerosmith performed this with Kid Rock when they were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001.
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Comments (27):

According to Steven during an interview on the Howard Stern Show, in the beginning of the song you hear an instrument called a "Vibra-Slap". The Vibra-slap is featured four times, on the fourth time Steven said that it broke when he slapped it, and they left it in the song. You can clearly hear it break on fourth hit.
- Billy, Brick, NJ
The being "talk about things and nobody cares" and "i can't baby were i'll be in a year" is about Joe Perry girlfriend (The band didn't really like her cause she was pulling Joe away from his band mate's) and" You stand in the front just a shakin' your ass I'll take you backstage, you can drink from my glass I'll talk about something you can sure understand 'Cause a month on the road an' I'll be eating from your hand" is about one of Stevens old girl friends who he was in love with but she was so young that he didn't want to ruin her life with drugs so after a accident at there apartment (i don't know what happend but something made her sick) he just sent her home to her parent.
- Micky , Pickney , MI
The song is also used in the 1998 film "Armageddon"
- Astrid, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
I agree that sweet emotion was the best song that could have been played in the beginning of dazed and confused
- Ryan, Orange, CA
Steven Tyler's daughters weren't born yet when he wrote the song. His inspiration was Elissa Perry.
- Tom, Robesonia, PA
Can't catch me 'cause the rabbit done died.....sounds like to me that he can't be the daddy.....test proved she was already knocked up.
- Norm, Clifton, CO
my absolute favorite band and song
- mike, port charlotte, FL
Just love this one.
The bass line is infectious, and the sneering lyrics crack me up every time.
Can't catch me 'cause the rabbit done died
- oldpink, New Castle, IN
This should read,"Sweet talkin' mama with a face like a gent." That sweat hog line was what was published in those "lyrics" mag rags of the day.
It is about Perry's ex-wife, though.
- Barry, Selma, AL
this song is good, but the ending
its cliche, like they ran out of steam
there is a part of the song near the end
which sound like kansas wayward son
- g, san jose, United States
Glenn for texas is right. When the movie dazed and confused open up with that song it could not have been better.
- Jack, Great Meadows, NJ
Another classic song
- Mike, Hueytown , AL
this is my favorite song and if you are a drummer like me you would probably agree that tat is the best ending ever and i can listin to that song forever and ever. this is one of my favorite song next to november rain
- copperhed, jupiter, FL
Actually, in Starsky and Hutch, "Sweet Emotion" was started when Ben Stiller was driving the car and was played during the ending credits.
- Eli, Linn Grove, IA
This song right here is the reason why I got into classic rock. When I first heard Tom Hamilton's bass line and Joe Perry with the talk box, I was mesmerized. Then when it kicks in, the riff is so awesome, the song to me defines what rock music is and always should be.
- Gordon, Lake Havasu City, AZ
I understand that there has been (don't know if it's used anymore, I doubt it) a test for pregnancy that kills a rabbit if the woman is pregnant. It seems this is referenced in this song, but it also seems like they got it backward, cause he implies that he's out of trouble cause the rabbit died. I would think it would be the other way around!
- fyodor, Denver, CO
The riff sounds so powerful!
- Jo-C, Lima, Peru
Richard Linklatter originally wanted to use Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin for the opening scene in his wonderful film of the same title. Because of money, he opted for Sweet Emotion. The result could not have been better.
- glenn, bandera, TX
i always think of my dream girl when i here this song
- angelo, las vegas, NV
I love the way the vocalists draw out the 4-measure 2-word title line over the fast rhythm. The contrast of the sustained lyric with the quick instrumentation really makes this song for me.
- Brian, La Mesa, CA
Lisa, the video mentioned is "Sweet Emotion". "Love in an Elevator" starts with Steven Tyler walking into an elevator and the attendent asking him something like "Going down Mr Tyler?"
- Matt, Portland, OR
I believe the video referred to in the facts section was actually "Love in an Elevator," not Sweet Emotion.
- Lisa, Manchester, CT
It was Steven's way of expressing his jealousy and anger toward Elyssa Perry. After all, she was stealing his best friend. You could say this led to the bands breakup... it sparked some terrible feelings between members because of their wives. And the breakup was about spilled milk and a wife fight, wasn't it? (At least for Joe, not necessarily for Brad)
- liz, Lake Orion, MI
Definitely my favourite Aerosmith song.
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
yep one of the great opening credits scenes in movie history using sweet emotion great song great flick
- jason, wylie, TX
This song was written for (about) Joe Perry's wife
- Brad, Manteca, CA
this song was used in the movie Dazed and Confused. it is the song playing during the opening credits.
- Ben, durham, NC
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