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Walk This Way by Aerosmith

Album: Toys In The AtticReleased: 1975Charted:
10
  • This song is about a promiscuous cheerleader who leads a schoolboy through his first sexual experience. It's an extremely sexual song that played perfectly to Aerosmith's young male fanbase while being ambiguous enough to get airplay. Lead singer Steven Tyler, who wrote the lyrics, said, "'Walk This Way' came out all at once. If you listen to the words, they're all really filthy. If you listen closely you'll hear that I disguised it quite cleverly." (Here's this interview with Steven Tyler.)
  • "Walk This Way" is the title of Aerosmith's 1999 autobiography. In the book, Steven Tyler deconstructs the lyrics to this song. Here's the breakdown:

    "Backstroke Lover" is our hero masturbating. His father catches him, and explains that he will someday experience the real thing. One day, he encounters the cheerleader along with "her sister and her cousin," and has a glorious sexual experience (Tyler cops to fantasies about two women at once, which is where this came from).

    The "walk this way" line is the experienced girl showing the young man where to put his finger - showing him how to walk. Inspiration came from make-out parties where this kind of thing could happen.

    Tyler points out that while the lyrics are sexually charged, it is the girl who is in control.
  • Aerosmith wasn't well known when this came out, and it didn't chart when it was first released in September 1975. A year later, after their album Rocks became popular, the single was reissued and became a hit. They re-released "Dream On" the next year.
  • Joe Perry came up with the guitar riff for this song and the band developed the track, but four days later (an eternity in their recording schedule at the time) Steven Tyler still didn't have any words for the song. With no lyrics forthcoming, they considered dumping the track, but inspiration struck when the band (minus Tyler) took a break and went for a walk around New York city, where they were recording. The movie Young Frankenstein was playing in Times Square, so they went to see it. The film is a comedy starring Gene Wilder, and there is a famous scene in the movie where Igor (Marty Feldman) tells Dr. Frankenstein to "Walk This Way," meaning to follow him. Dr. Frankenstein imitates Igor's walk, which the band thought was hilarious. When they saw Tyler the next day, they informed him that the title of the song would be "Walk This Way."

    Tyler, however, tells a different story regarding the inspiration for the title. He told our writer Bruce Pollock: "The song title evolved from watching The Three Stooges on TV. They walked this way and that."
  • When Steven Tyler finally came up with lyrics for this song, he entered the studio to record the song and realized he left the lyrics in the cab. His incredulous bandmates thought he was just stalling and they got in another of their many fights. Tyler walked to the stairwell, let out a primal scream, and wrote new lyrics on the wall, since he forgot to bring paper with him. The original lyrics he left in the cab were never recovered.
  • According to Rolling Stone magazine in their "100 Greatest Guitar Songs" issue, Joe Perry came up with the famous guitar riff at a soundcheck in Hawaii. It was inspired by the New Orleans Funk band The Meters, and it all came together when drummer Joey Kramer, joined in. Said Perry: "I didn't have too many guitars back then. To really sound like a Meters hook, we knew we needed hornlike parts. We weren't going to bring up the horn subject, We're guitar players."
  • Joe Perry used a talkbox during the chorus. This was the first time the device was used on a hit song. The talkbox allows a guitarist to make strange vocal sounds by "talking" into a vinyl tube attached to the unit, which is hooked up to the output of the guitar amp. Perry also used a talkbox on "Sweet Emotion."
  • This became one of the first mainstream rap hits when it was covered by Run-D.M.C. in 1986. Steven Tyler and Joe Perry performed this with the rap trio, and it became Run-D.M.C.'s first hit, going to US #4. This collaboration led to many more among prominent rappers and rock musicians, including "Bring The Noise" by Public Enemy and Anthrax, and "Encore" by Jay-Z and Linkin Park.
  • DJs often ripped the labels off their records so no one would know what beats they were using when they performed. Jam Master Jay got one of these records from another DJ, which turned out to be an Aerosmith album. He was working on sampling the opening break when producer Rick Rubin heard it and explained it was a famous Rock song. This gave Rubin the idea to have Run-D.M.C. cover the song. The band didn't like the idea of rapping Aerosmith's lyrics, with DMC explaining in Rolling Stone (October 15, 2009), "We said, this is hillbilly gibberish, this is bulls--t." With some help from Run's brother Russell Simmons, Rubin convinced them to do it. He grew up in the suburbs listening to groups like Aerosmith, and knew it would be a great way for the group to crossover to a white audience.
  • The Run-D.M.C. video is the first that Tyler and Perry appeared in. It was the first time many young Aerosmith fans saw what they looked like. Aerosmith would use MTV to expand their audience for the rest of their career, making videos for most of their singles, starting with "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" in 1988, which won two MTV Video Music Awards.

    The first video Aerosmith made was for their 1982 song "Lightning Strikes," but MTV passed on that one (here it is on YouTube). Joe Perry had left the band at that point.
  • The Run-D.M.C. cover launched Aerosmith's comeback. They were in drug rehab when it came out, but sobered up and released Permanent Vacation in 1987, which gave them a string of hits, their first since "Come Together" in 1978. The collaboration also boosted the band's profile in Europe, where Run-D.M.C. was huge.
  • This was used in an early episode of The Simpsons where the band performed the song at Moe's Tavern and let Moe sing along. Aerosmith was one of the first musical guest stars on the show; the episode aired November 21, 1991 and was called "Flaming Moe."
  • The city of Boston used this in a 1999 publicity campaign to cut back on jaywalking. They used it in commercials encouraging people to use crosswalks.
  • *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly all sang on this with Aerosmith at the 2001 Super Bowl halftime show. The lines "I met a cheerleader, was a real young bleeder" and "You ain't seen nothin' til you're down on a muffin" seemed a little more interesting with Britney Spears performing.
  • On the "Rock and Roller Coaster" at Disney's MGM Studios, a virtual Aerosmith gives an introduction before you get on, Aerosmith songs play throughout the ride. When the ride opened, this was the only song that played, which may have instilled a deep hatred of the song among the Disney employees working the roller coaster. This ride is highly recommended by the Songfacts staff.
  • The then two leading British female pop bands Girls Aloud and Sugababes produced a cover version of this for the official single for the 2007 Comic Relief fundraiser. Their rendition reached #1 in the UK but the following year was voted runner-up in a poll by Total Guitar magazine to find out the worst cover of all time. Celine Dion's version of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" came top of the list.
  • Steven Tyler told Rolling Stone magazine, April 15, 2004: "The Yardbirds' music is a gold mine waiting to be stumbled upon. Aerosmith did, because we grew up in that era. The riff in 'Walk This Way' is just us trying to explore the blues in the Yardbirds model." (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
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Comments: 52

This song, for one, didn't use a talk box.
Even if it did, it would be nowhere near the first hit using one.
Steve - South Central, Fl
Knowing someone who helped work on the album many moons ago, I can tell you that Joe didn't write the riff to Walk This Way. What is more, he didn't play the solo either. Word was that the record executives at Columbia were attempting to build America's answer to the Rolling Stones but the boys from Boston didn't necessarily have the chops so help was summoned at times.Rockheadz - Scarsdale, Ny
Another case of Aerosmith didn't write this killer song but they get credit on the album just the same. One of the industries best kept secrets. Not forever though.Robert - Waltham, Ma
By Joe? Please! Don't be so naive. These guys look rally cool, however, they sell records by having real songwriters and true musicians contribute to the facade.Randy C. - Yonkers, Ny
Zack, VT, the guitar lick in this song is not even close to John's lick for Day Tripper. You may want to visit you ENT specialist. Ricky, CARichard - Tustin, Ca
When I rode rockn rollercoaster, "dude looks like a lady" was playing.Phil - Leesburg, Fl
wtf theres a talk box in this? no......akward.Nick - Seattle, Albania
This was the first Aerosmith song I learned all the words to and it took me a while to get the meanings of the lyrics I was singing. Amazing song none-the-less :D Though it does make me mad I waited 20 minutes for the video on this page to load just to see an Aerosmith album cover and hear the music playing, rather than the actual music video. -.-Katie - Reno, Nv
This was the first Aerosmith song I'd ever heard. I heard it in that Simpsons episode with Flaming Moes. I didn't really get to them until I got Guitar Hero Aerosmith.I like when they do that whole rap/rock thing like in Sweet Emotion also. It really helped bridge that gap between rock and rap, or as I like to call it, poop. But of course that turned out to be a big mistake. Just ask 500 kids what their favorite band is and you'll see.Homer - Springfield, Ky
Filthy lyrics, and, oh yeah, it freakin' rocks!Oldpink - New Castle, In
ain't seen nothin till your down on a muffin. LMFAO!!!!
I think the run DMc version is almost better than the original.
T.j. - Southern Shores,
An American classic, and a highschool traditionCaitlin - Upper Township, Nj
I still am amazed that after all these years that the censors have not picked up that some of the dirtiest lines (especially from 30 years ago) ever recorded are still being played at family type events-SuperBowl halftime show, 4th of July with the Boston pops, etc. Much of today's music doesn't get played at special events because they just come out and use the words. Stevie Tyler disguised what he was singing about in a way that mainstream America are too dumb to figure out.Jay - Boston, Ma
Markus - this is so weird. I came on here for info on Walk this Way after it played on iPod and Day Tripper was playing when I read your post about it not sounding like Day Tripper. Not as weird as the inch-long nose hair I pulled out shortly before that, though :-DMo - Austin, Tx
Gordo - I can confirm your "Revolution X" theme idea. We have that game at an arcade here.Trogbob - San Diego, Ca
I was raised with this song!J.r. - No Where, Oh
Great combination of rock and rap when combined with run DMC.Julie - Taylor, Tx
There are single and album versions of this song. Easiest way to tell the difference is, for the single version, the first chorus is cut short....goes right into "Just gimme a kiss!" after two choruses.

The riff to Walk This Way doesn't sound anything like Day Tripper IMO.

Different key (E vs B) and completely different sequence of notes.
Markus - La, Ca
Best ever Super Bowl halftime show. Bar none.Dylan - Port Orange, Fl
best hi hat pump beat ever and the guitar to go along with it. great songCopperhed - Jupiter, Fl
i agree on the other good tracks on Toys. You See Me Crying is great as well.Brian - Altoona, Pa
all I know is that this is a VERY dirty song...and I'm going into high school next year...oh boy, it's gonna be scaryJoey - Nowhere Land, Ca
this song is the story of my life. i was a loser in high school, and i did loose my vplates to the hottie next door, and i've had the same experience in the school gym lockersHaggai - Hobart, Australia
I thought all the hoopla over Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction was ironic considering that this song was sung at the Super Bowl halftime show just a year or two previous.Fyodor - Denver, Co
Walk this way is probably one of the funkiest rock songs ever. Joe Perry was really into James Brown and wanted to write something like his style. Aerosmith is my favorite band of all time, and I love the track, but I'm a sucker for the lesser known tracks on Toys In The Attic such as Uncle Salty, No More No More, and Adam's Apple. But how can I not mention that the same album also includes Big Ten Inch Record an Sweet Emotion, my favorite song ever? And excuse me Dan from NH, Aerosmith is not a take on the Rolling Stones. I may be crazy but if you take Steven Tyler and Mick Jagger and stand them next to each other, then or now, they look nothing alike. In my opinion, mind you.Gordon - Lake Havasu City, Az
He can make his eyes vibrate? I didn't know that was possible!!! Hahaha!!!Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Weird fact- Tom can make his eyes vibrate.Novella - Houston, Tx
No one can cover this true classic as it orignally came out. Run DMC and Aerosmith doing this song together is great. It eliminates the boundries of not only rock and roll, but rap also. Breaking down the walls as the music video suggested. The cover Macy Gray did on this song was definately not her best work. The song doesn't sound right being sung by a girl...not at all.Donni - Somewhere, Wa
this is not the song featured on the Rockin' Roller Coaster, he true song is sweet emotion. get your facts right.Yikhkj - Bnb, Ak
I graduated from Roosevelt H.S. in Yonkers about 4 years after Steve attended there. Working in the Bronxville Movie theater when we were showing Sgt. Peppers Loney Hearts Club Band - the only bearable part being Come Together performed by Aerosmith, Steve's mother and father came to a screening. She was wearing a gold necklace with the "A" with wings logo. I commented on the necklace and said "Oh, are you fan?" She smiled and said "Mommy". I asked her if this song was about his days at Roosevelt. She responded "So Steven tells me." I never looked at the locker room quite the same way.Charles - Bronxville, Ny
I think this song was used on an Arcade game called "Revolution X" as the end theme.Gordo - Lab City, Canada
One of the greatest songs by America's greatest Rock bands! The riff is just so classic! When you hear the drum intro, you know its the song, and then the riff comes in. Awesome stuff!Rikki - Ashtabula, Oh
Aerosmith is a complete take on the Rollin Stones. If you think about it Steven Tyler=Mick Jagger, Joe Perry=Keith Richards, Tom Hamilton=Bill Wyman, Brad Whitford=Brian Jones, Mick Taylor, and Ron Wood, and Joey Kramer=Charlie Watts.Dan - Lee, Nh
the first song i remember ever been used as a sample (run dmc)Marlow - Perth, Australia
Wonderful song - one of my all time favorites. It's sampled in the movie "The Replacements". ANyone know who does the cover?Keith - Millbrae, Ca
My favourite song. Period.Imran - Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
This song literally changed my life. Whenever I hear that riff I just go nuts. Also, it is very cool that Aerosmith rocked harder than ever after getting sober.Melissa - Duluth, Mn
This was #336 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs ever.Ross - Independence, Mo
one of the top 15 or 20 riffs of all timeMatt - Millbrae, Ca
I saw the finalists performing this on "American Idol"... and the girls singing the line "you ain't seen nothin' till you're down on a muffin." It was so hilarious! (unintentionally, I'm sure)Shawna - Phoenix, Az
I think the funniest part of this song is the first line. "backstroke lover alwats hiding neath the covers". It's talking about masturbation, this song is amazing and is hystericalJimmu - Vineland, Nj
the main riff for this is the same as Day Tripper by the BeatlesZack - Hinesburg, Vt
The lyrics didn't register with my when I was a college kid in the '70s, but how on earth did they ever get this song on the radio? The lyrics are very raunchy by 1970s standards. Did they play an edited version on the air? This is definitely something my roommate and I would have snickered at if we had noticed.Karl - Ferndale, Wa
This was definitely not the first hit song to use a talkbox, as stated above. Peter Frampton's "Do You Feel Like We Do," which came out in 1973, used a talkbox extensively during the solo.Sam - Champaign, Il
As I once heard a rock singer say, "This is a rock-n-roll song to the N-th degree!" I saw Aerosmith half-a-dozen times in the 1990s, and quite a few other acts both big and small time, some on their way up and some on their way down, and for my money Aerosmith put on the best show. You always got your money's worth from the (former) Toxic Twins and the rest of the band.Shell - Riverdale, Ga
Appeared in Season 1 Episode 17 of Cold Case on CBS. The name of the episode is "The Lost Soul of Herman Lester."Jonathan - Natchitoches, La
The "black chick" is Macy Gray. It is quite possibly the most horrible cover I have ever heard. She disgraces this classic.Kenneth - New York, Ny
have any of you guys (or girls) seen that wierd commercial with the black chick in a blue suit singing kareoki (i don't know how to spell that, i know) disco cover of walk this way and shes dancing and its very creapy and its for a mp3 player?Charlie - Thomaston, Dc
right on for the great guitar riff by joe perry!Madison - Atlanta, Ga
What a great song!!! Gets me rocking out everytime. Another great guitar riff by Joe Perry!!!Brandon - Amherst, Canada
great song!!!add some more damn comments . this song is so good it should have 1,000!Joe - Oshawa, Canada
I can't believe that there aren't any comments for this great american classic. This is one the greatest songs of all time. God Bless Aerosmith!!Brett - Moore, Ok