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Album: PumpReleased: 1989
Written by guitarist Joe Perry
and lead singer Steven Tyler, this song is about the band's struggles with addition (or, as Perry puts it, their "adventures in body chemistry"). A "monkey on one's back" is a term that means a burden, which is how they came to view their drug use. When the band finally sobered up for their 1987 album Permanent Vacation
, they enjoyed a career resurgence, got in great physical shape, and became video stars thanks to MTV.
This was the first song Tyler and Perry wrote for the Pump album - they composed it in November 1988 about two months after their tour ended (a sign that they were rehabbed for good: Guns N' Roses were their opening act, but they still stayed clean). They recorded the song live in the studio with Tyler adding his vocals later.
Aerosmith's record company sherpa John Kalodner asked Steven Tyler to remove the profanity from the line "feedin' that f--kin' monkey on my back," but Tyler refused. Kalodner did get a concession on another track on the album when he convinced Tyler to change the line "He raped a little, bitty baby" in "Janie's Got A Gun
" to "He jacked
a little, bitty baby."