“Sweet Emotion” is a song by the American rock band Aerosmith, released by Columbia Records in April 1975 on the album Toys in the Attic and was released as a single a month later on May 19. The song began a string of pop hits and large-scale mainstream success for the band that would continue for the remainder of the 1970s. The song was written by lead singer Steven Tyler and bassist Tom Hamilton, produced by Jack Douglas and recorded at the Record Plant.
“Sweet Emotion” was released as a single on May 19, 1975, and peaked at #36 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s breakthrough single and their first Top 40 hit. The day it hit #36 on the U.S. chart, July 19, 1975, Aerosmith was booked at a gig in New York City’s Central Park, called the Schaefer Music Festival. The song and consequently the album that went into the Top 10 were so successful that the band decided to ride the heels of success and re-release one of their first singles, the power ballad “Dream On”, which had originally charted at #59 in 1973. The re-released version went on to hit #6, the highest chart performance in the 1970s for the band. “Sweet Emotion” remains successful in the modern day, having sold over three million digital downloads.
Many Aerosmith fans believe that Steven Tyler wrote all of the lyrics to the song about the tension and hatred between the band members and Joe Perry’s wife. Tyler himself has said that only some of the lyrics were inspired by Perry’s wife. It was stated in Aerosmith’s tell-all autobiography Walk This Way and in an episode of Behind the Music that growing feuds between the band members’ wives (including an incident involving “spilt milk” where Elyssa Perry threw milk over Tom Hamilton’s wife, Terry) may have helped lead to the band’s original lineup dissolving in the early 1980s.
The video for the re-released version is based on a phone sex conversation. The video, directed by Marty Callner, shows a young man under his covers with a magazine which is advertising a phone sex line. The young man, who says he is a 26-year-old attorney, and the phone sex operator talk about each other for a while, until it goes into a shot of the band performing in a basement (this portion of the video was actually recorded in an old warehouse in the Charlestown Navy Yard, which substituted as the band’s old apartment on 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston). It switches back-and-forth between Aerosmith performing “Sweet Emotion” and the phone conversation. At the very end, both the phone sex operator and the young man are shown to be very different from each other’s perceptions; she is an overweight older woman with a baby living in a run-down house, and he is a teenage boy. Throughout most of the video, Perry is playing a Gibson Les Paul but plays the solo on a Fender Stratocaster.
The video is also a homage to the 1983 film Risky Business, in that the opening scenes of the young man talking to the woman are almost identical to the scenes in the film of Tom Cruise’s character talking on the phone to the call girl.
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