Monkey on My Back

Songfacts®:

  • 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."

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