Look at Steven Tyler. Go on! Look at him! Dude does look a bit like a lady, don’t he? Actually, though, the legend is that this particular song was written about Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil. Same difference if you ask me.
Whatever the reasons for writing “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” this song is super special to me. It’s the first Aerosmith song I ever heard. It’s the first Aerosmith video I ever saw. I believe it was either late 1987 or early 1988 and we were visiting my aunt and uncle, probably for a holiday get-together. I’d ambled downstairs by myself to the rec room and the fire…and the television with the cable connection and no one around to control what was on.
I started flipping around and landed on this video and I couldn’t stop watching. It was like a cross between a train wreck and the most wonderful raunchiness I’d ever witnessed (cut me some slack here…I was 11).
That kimono robe. Those red suspenders and cummerbund. Those purple tights with the see-through lattice-work up the sides and the ginormous power bulge that the camera man kept zooming in on. The thrusting and gyrating and slinking. Oh my. Everything about the video dripped one thing (and if you can’t figure out what that one thing is after watching the video, then I really don’t know if I can help you).
And that music. Oh but I loved the music. How do you not love it? Fun and bouncy and rockin’…like hard rock filled with helium. Steven Tyler is deliciously dirty, in his lyrics, in his antics, in his everything. And Joe Fuckin’ Perry. The man’s about as bright as an inkwell in a blackout, but he is a guitar god. Just listen to his solo starting around 2:23 in the video (right after Tyler’s rather Shakespearean lyrics: “Do me, do me, do me, do me”). Or his more impressive solo during “Love In An Elevator.” Actually, any of his solos are worth the price of admission. I’ve seen Aerosmith in concert three times, and I’d go again in a heartbeat (if it was early stuff…none of that Just Push Play piffle, please).
This song also marked the beginning of my strange misinterpretation of rock music lyrics. Through the whole song, I thought Tyler was singing “Do the Slinky Lady.” I thought that was the name of the strange dance that he was doing through the video. Imagine my surprise when I realized he was singing “Dude looks like a lady.” Of course, I’m also the one who thought that Trent Reznor was singing that his whole existence was “flan” in “Closer.” Yeah. Who’s not so bright again?