Having read the alleged autobiography of Steven Tyler, which appears to be little more than occasionally coherent babblings into a recorder, an issue is whether that of his band partner, Joe Perry, would be different in tone and generally more substantial. It is (co-written with David Ritz), with the exception of an introduction by Johnny Depp (“As I sit here before a most cacophonous piece of blank onion skin…”).
From the first pages, following the “cacophonous” Depp introduction:
In July of 1959, a young mother is standing on the shore of Lake Sunapee in the mountainous terrain of New Hampshire. The sky is cloudless and almost blindingly blue. The day is peaceful, but the woman is not. Her heart is beating like crazy. Her mouth is dry. With every passing second, she grows increasingly afraid. Her son has disappeared deep into the lake, and she fears he may be drowning. She’s afraid that, this time, she has let him go too far.
Early that morning, he had shown her his makeshift diving rig with a homemade mask, tubes, pulleys, ropes and cement blocks that would anchor him to the bottom of the lake and allow him to explore the fish life he finds so fascinating. Because she is a gym teacher and swimming instructor, she encourages his physical activities. She knows that, given his shy nature, he is more comfortable under, rather than above the water. She knows that he is an ingenious child. She likes how he wants to explore. But now this venture has taken an alarming turn. She knows that her son could stay underwater for three to four minutes. But not it’s minute five. With her own swimming mask in hand, she takes action. Not about to let her kid drown, she’s going after him. She’s positioned to take the dive when suddenly he surfaces. He’s breathing heavily, but he’s breathing. She sees exhaustion in his byes, but a smile on his face.
“It works great, Mom. I can stay down long enough that the fish come out of hiding. Soon as I catch my breath, I’m going back down.”
A lifetime later, I’m puzzled by that story of Mom and me. I wonder how that nine year-old kid, whose burning passion in life was to become a marine biologist and whose idol was Jacques Cousteau, turned into a guitarist. I’m puzzled by how someone who grew up in the upper middle class New England suburbs–born into a family with virtually no interest in music or art–wound up riding the tidal wave of rock and roll. I’m also puzzled by how I survived that tidal wave and lived to tell the story.