I remember a few months back, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler dropped a “country” single titled “Love Is Your Name.” Didn’t really think too much about it, other than it was kinda meh. Not outright FGL/Luke Bryan bad, but not really anything to write home about either. I did think at the time, though, that one of two things was going to happen:
• Tyler would be one and done, the song would flame out and we wouldn’t hear anything from him again; or
• We would get something like this.
After all, it’s not as if, like Don Henley, Steven Tyler had a respect and love for Real Country Music instilled into the fiber of his being as he grew up in East Texas listening to one of the greatest country music stations of all-time (KWKH out of Shreveport, Louisiana, the 50,000-watt powerhouse that was the home of the Louisiana Hayride). But it’s still embarrassing just the same. The lyrics are bad enough, but instrumentally it’s pure fluff. You strip the lyrics away and it sounds almost like something Kelsea Ballerini would have recorded, or Taylor Swift back when she was still marketing herself as a country music artist. And in a way, that’s the most damning thing of all, especially when you compare it to everything Aerosmith recorded up until about 1982 or so. If this is anything to go by, Steven Tyler as a musician doesn’t have a shred of self-respect left.
And there’s more than one bitter irony in that song’s mention of Tom Petty and “Free Fallin’.” What’s that, you ask?
Well, in addition to the fact that Tom Petty himself has made no secret of his disdain for the type of “music” Steven Tyler is subjecting us all to once again….Petty’s drummer, Stan Lynch, co-produced — and co-wrote every song on — Don Henley’s Cass County, widely (and quite justifiably, IMO) praised as one of the best country albums of 2015. You compare the two and it’s like night and day. On one hand you have Steven Tyler trying to keep up with the bros when that sound is more or less on the way out already, and on the other hand you have Henley singing duets with folks like Merle Haggard and Dolly Parton (the latter of which is a cover of a Louvin Brothers song from 1958). I’ll admit Cass County wasn’t quite as in my wheelhouse as all the Texas music we bought last year or the new George Strait album, but it was still quite good.
I’ve heard a lot of folks talking crap about Megadeth over the last few years because of the direction Dave Mustaine has gone with the band, and to an extent I can understand, especially with some of the stuff I heard off Super Collider. But even that was miles ahead of this whole Steven Tyler embarrassment. I suppose if there’s any consolation to the whole thing, it’ll be that everybody else is going to see Steven Tyler’s country experiment as the embarrassment that it is. Of course, a lot of these people will be Sam Hunt/Luke Bryan/FGL fans, but hey, any chair in a bar fight, I suppose…