Rocking Wonderland Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll ... and, Believe It or Not, Reading: Book Talks to Aerosmith's Steven Tyler about Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien and Rumi-Before Tracking Down a Few Connections between Music Lyrics and the World of Books

By Quitkin, Megan | Book, March-April 2002 | Go to article overview

Rocking Wonderland Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll ... and, Believe It or Not, Reading: Book Talks to Aerosmith's Steven Tyler about Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien and Rumi-Before Tracking Down a Few Connections between Music Lyrics and the World of Books


Quitkin, Megan, Book


The song "Sunshine," from your latest album, Just Push Play, has a lot of references to rabbits, hatters and mushrooms. Was it influenced by Alice's Adventures in Wonderland? Sunshine was a girl I made love to in my mom and dad's bed when I was seventeen on LSD. She was my ray of sunshine at that time. In my experiences, I was Alice for a couple of years, and the tea party was any band I was ever in.

What are musicians doing, exactly, when they borrow--or steal--a writer's ideas? It's a little tip of the hat to those you've learned from. If there's a deeper understanding that you can borrow from, or if you can use the ladle of others to drink from the well of knowledge, do it.

Who are some of your favorite writers? Oh, God, get [Jalaluddin] Rumi's Jewels of Remembrance. You won't believe what this guy was thinking hundreds of years ago. Marianne Williamson is great. Mark Nepo's The Book of Awakening is wonderful. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron is brilliant.... One of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is teaching them to read books. I'll never forget when I read John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley my senior year in high school. I've got a bunch of Steinbeck stuff.

How did you get started as a book collector? I got most of them from my grandfather's library. When I was nine years old, I was lurking around in his library and saw Man's Closest Relations, an expose from 1825 that shows shaved monkeys, gorillas and orangutans, with genitals and all, standing next to a man. That'll tweak your curiosity. Now I've got the original copies of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and some early Greek mythology about the gods' pecking order.

Speaking of mythology, what's your take on the new film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, featuring your daughter Liv? I read the books in the `60s. What a brilliant man. He invented this whole language, and when Liv started doing the movies a year and a half ago, she actually spoke this language--I've got it on my little voice recorder here.

What do you read in between shows when you're on tour? I always keep a book by the side of my bed, because I need a drift net to catch me. I throw parties every other night for 20,000 people, and I keep grounded by reading. It keeps me from getting sucked into my own little world.

TYLER ISN'T THE ONLY ROCK STAR WITH A LIBRARY CARD, YOU KNOW ...

SONG & MUSICIAN          LITERARY LYRIC

"White Rabbit"           "One pill makes you larger, and one pill
(1967) by                makes you small, and the ones that mother
Jefferson Airplane       gives you don't do anything at all."

"Don't Stand So          "He starts to shake and cough, just like
Close to Me" (1980)      the old man in that book by Nabokov."
by the Police

"The End" (1967)         "He came to a door and he looked inside.
by the Doors             `Father?' `Yes, son?' `I want to kill you.
                         Mother, I want to f**k you.'"

"Killing an Arab"        "Standing on the beach with a gun
(1978) by the Cure       in my hand.... I'm alive. I'm dead. I'm the
                         stranger killing an Arab."

"Ramble On" (1969)       "'Twas in the darkest depths of Mordor,
by Led Zeppelin          I met a girl so fair. But Gollum, the evil
                         one, crept up and slipped away with her."

"Rocket Man" (1972)      "I miss the earth so much. I miss my wife.
by Elton John (lyrics    It's lonely out in space on such a timeless
by Bernie Taupin)        flight. … 

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Rocking Wonderland Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll ... and, Believe It or Not, Reading: Book Talks to Aerosmith's Steven Tyler about Lewis Carroll, J.R.R. Tolkien and Rumi-Before Tracking Down a Few Connections between Music Lyrics and the World of Books
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