Run-D.M.C. ft. Aerosmith – Walk This Way
So I took a big chance at the high school dance
With a missy who was ready to play
Was it me she was foolin'?
'Cause she knew what she was doin'
And she taught me how to walk this way
#WalkThisWay #RunDMC #Aerosmith
The 4th of July, we know, is an important date for all Americans, it’s their Independence Day. And it takes courage to release a song on the Fourth of July, when all of America is probably closed for vacation. But Run-D.M.C. and their DJ, the great Jam Master Jay, didn’t care that much, and in 1986 they introduced to the world what may have become their most famous song.
Behind it, as always, there is an incredible story. The story of a song written in 1975 by a hard rock band that today is legendary, but in the mid-80s was not living a good time. Aerosmith were almost disappearing from the scene. But let’s follow the time. As we said in 1975, the original version of “Walk this way” had limited success. It was a sort of improvised song, because it seems that the title was born almost before the rest of the song.
Aerosmith were expected to record a song, they had music and riffs, but they didn’t have lyrics. When they met after an afternoon of loathing around New York, a part of the group had been in Times Square to see “Frankenstein Junior”, a wonderful film in which Marty Feldman, in the character of Igor, with a pun tells Gene Wilder to follow him (“Walk this way!”), and begins to walk limping. Of course, Gene Wilder takes it literally and starts limping too. This scene amused the band so much that they decided to use that pun as the title for the song.
Then Steven Tyler composed the lyrics around this sentence, but legend says that unfortunately he left the sheets with the text on the taxi when he went to the recording studio. And so quickly and furiously he tried to remember the words, but he had to invent a lot on the fly. To avoid forgetting the words when singing, he wrote the words on a wall.
The song was far too explicit, and it spoke of the first sexual experiences of a boy who through the world of colleges and through the classic American scheme made of parties and unrestrained cheerleaders, makes his first experiences. A song like this was only successful in the small world of white male hard rock supporters of Aerosmith, but it didn’t see the charts even from afar.
We’re going to jump to 1986, when Run-D.M.C. are recording their album, and during a break producer Rick Rubin, who had been a fan of Aerosmith, pulls out the album “Toys in the attic” and plays this song. D.M.C. and Run start rapping on it and playing with the drumbox, and the producer at that time has it all clear. You have to remake this song! Let’s also call Aerosmith and let’s see if they want to participate! Actually, Run-D.M.C. weren’t thrilled with the idea, but it seems that Rubin was categorical: with or without you, I do!
Finding Aerosmith was not easy: after the failure of their 1985 album “Done with Mirrors”, they were slowly disappearing from the stage. Also because frustration plunged them into a tunnel of depression and addictions. Eventually, however, the Run-D.M.C. crew managed to find Aerosmith founder and guitarist Joe Perry, and ask him if they wanted to participate.
It takes almost a minute for Perry to accept, and soon he and the singer, the legendary Steven Tyler, show up in the recording studio.
Aerosmiths are convinced that they will receive instructions from Run-D.M.C., Run-D.M.C. are convinced that Aerosmith will bring a lot of ideas.
And so, in front of the more complete nothingness, Jam Master Jay says to Perry and Tyler: OK, you play it like you usually do, and we invent something. We need to say that both had very little time, no more than one afternoon, because Aerosmith had a plane at the end of the day for another engagement, and Run-D.M.C. had to return a rented car before the car rental closed (I’m not kidding!).
In short, at the end of the day they are all convinced that they have wasted time. The song is recorded, but Run-D.M.C. don’t think it can be included on their album. But instead we know that they made a fantastic song that, perhaps for the first time, was able to unite rap and hard rock fans, creating a form of integration that went far beyond music.
The video is great. It starts with a fantastic scene that I invite you to review: Aerosmith play at home, and their neighbors (of course Run-D.M.C.) are a little annoyed because they wanted to play their music. And so to annoy Aerosmith, they play it back scratching and rapping on it at even higher volume. To respond and make himself heard, Steven Tyler breaks through the wall at the right time when the chorus begins, and a few seconds later they are all together in front of the full screaming audience. And what about the stringless adidas sneakers of Run-D.M.C.? I remind you that it was 1986! This scene changed the fashion of young people!
In short, “Walk this way” is not only a fantastic song, it is a very successful experiment of integration of very different and distant worlds, 70s hard rock and metropolitan hip-hop of mid-80s, but we know that when there is great music and great artists anything is possible!