You can’t choke someone else’s chicken, even if it attacks you. You may not snuff your neighbor’s rooster, either. Police say a man from Jacksonville learned a valuable lesson after an altercation with a rooster recently. James Nix stands accused of killing his neighbor’s rooster after he says it attacked him. The story begins with Jason Defelise, a Florida man who owned a rooster named Big Roo. James Nix says he was walking past the rooster when it attacked him with no provocation. Nix hit the fowl with a stick in an attempt to make the attack stop. Things went a bit south. The rooster died and now its owner is angry. While the victim says the rooster had been a problem in the past, the owner says it’s news to him, saying the rooster had never acted up before. During the alledged attack, Nix said the rooster jumped and clawed at him. Nix then swung a stick at it, “getting lucky” and hitting it directly in the head, thus killing it. When the owner returned home, he said he noticed the bird dead in a ditch close to his home. Defelise reportedly called the police about the incident, but they took no action. He then call animal control and they showed up. Authorities say Nix was arrested and charged with animal cruelty. Nix told reporters that he should have never been arrested, saying chickens die every day for fast food meals across the country. Source: CBSNews.com
Metallica: First To Worst
Metallica: All Songs Ranked Worst to Best
When Metallica recorded “Suicide & Redemption,” they probably felt that the track harkened back to the iconic instrumentals from early in their catalog. In reality, it’s an extremely bloated exercise that is 9:58 too long. (Note: The track clocks in at 9:58.) (EB)
“Purify” sounds like someone threw a soup can into a dryer with a microphone, and then tossed in some spare change halfway through. It makes Hetfield’s desperate pleas feel all too real: “Can’t you help me? Won’t you help me?” We wish we could, James. (SP)
Enough has already been said about the snare drum sound on ‘St. Anger,’ so we won’t beat that dead horse anymore. However, it’s especially distracting on “Shoot Me Again.” (EB)
Once again, the snare drum is awful. On the plus side, Metallica’s “My World” isn’t nearly as bad as the Guns N’ Roses song also titled “My World.” (Yes, this is a stretch and a complete grasping of straws, but this song just isn’t good.) (EB)
How ironic that one thing “Attitude” thoroughly lacks is attitude. “Reload” has some bite, but you won’t find it here. This is just half-baked, flavorless filler. (SP)
“Sweet Amber” is the closest we get to a recognizable Metallica track from ‘St. Anger.’ Clocking in at just under five and a half minutes (making it one of the shortest songs on the album -- mercifully), it opens with a somewhat catchy riff that unfortunately doesn’t really go anywhere interesting. Although the lyrics have been speculated to be about James Hetfield’s alcoholism, the book ‘The Monster Lives: The Inside Story of Some Kind of Monster’ reveals that “Sweet Amber” was actually written about tensions with their label. (ST)
We all know Metallica was going through a lot during the making of ‘St. Anger,’ but this track just lacks that oomph and energy fans love about the band. When you revisit it, the unnamed feeling you feel while listening to “The Unnamed Feeling” is just sadness. (EB)
Metallica’s 2011 EP ‘Beyond Magnetic’ consists of four roughly mixed tracks that never made it onto 2008’s ‘Death Magnetic.’ “Hell And Back,” like the rest of the songs written for ‘Death Magnetic,’ is strong and features the heavy and bombastic style that we’ve come to know from Metallica. The song seems to deal with James Hetfield’s struggle with addiction. “And when the night has fallen / It falls hard and then it all begins / When she starts her calling / I feel my darkness grow within.” (ST)
The chugging riff is rather catchy, but the lyrics to “Bad Seed” are feel less than inspired. (“Swing the noose again/Pierce the apple skin/You bit more than you need/Now you're choking on the bad seed”) (EB)
An ode to the summer tour circuit, “Lords of Summer” was given an appropriate debut: live, in concert. It’s a bold move to play a rollicking 8-minute epic for an entire stadium that’s never heard it, but Metallica does what Metallica wants. The track was recut for the deluxe edition of ‘Hardwired’ a couple years later. (SP)
There are plenty of bright spots on 2016’s 'Hardwired...To Self-Destruct,' but “Murder One” just isn’t one of them. It lands with a big ol’ “meh.” The fact that the song is a tribute to the late Lemmy Kilmister just makes it a total bummer, because the track just doesn’t measure up to Lemmy’s legend. Then again, what does? (EB)
Metallica’s 1991 self-titled record, commonly referred to as ‘The Black Album,’ has gotten a lot of flak over the years due to the band leaning towards a more commercial sound. The sixth track on the record, “Don’t Tread On Me” is one of the heaviest songs on the album and, surprisingly, James Hetfield’s least favorite. The most interesting and unexpected aspect of this song is the homage to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim’s “America” from ‘West Side Story.’ (ST)
Sure, lyrics like “Suck on the barrel/Suck on the barrel/Suck it 'til it's gone dry” are both jarring and distracting. And sure, “Just a Bullet Away” is far from a great Metallica song. But why were this track and the three others on the ‘Beyond Magnetic’ EP cut from ‘Death Magnetic,’ while “Suicide & Redemption” made the cut? What a head-scratcher! (EB)
Here’s a wild (not-so) fun fact: “Better Than You” won the 1999 Grammy for Best Metal Performance and managed to beat out Rammstein's "Du hast." Even the biggest Metallica fan in the world would admit that “Du hast” is *way* better than “Better Than You.” (EB)
The fifth track on ‘Hardwired… To Self Destruct’ kicks in with a Black Sabbath-inspired riff that fades into the grunge feel of 1996’s ‘Load’ (which as we know, most Metallica fans can live without). Although not a bad track, “Am I Savage?” is not particularly memorable. (ST)
You’d think Metallica wouldn’t even attempt “The Unforgiven III” considering how subpar “The Unforgiven II” was, but alas, they decided to give it a go anyway. Should’ve just left well enough alone. (EB)
The riff and the lyrics are uninspired and, frankly, rather boring. “Slither” could’ve just slid onto the cutting room floor, and no one would miss it. (EB)
It really feels like Metallica tried to make “What don't kill ya make ya more strong” happen like it was “Fetch!” or something. Nonetheless, now that this list is in the double digits, there’s far more meat to these songs, especially here, on the extended guitar solo following the second chorus. (EB)
While it's certainly not one of the band's best songs of all time, “Invisible Kid” does capture the lo-fi aura of what Metallica were trying to create with ‘St. Anger.’ That said, the track drags on for eight minutes, overstaying its welcome a bit. (AE)
Sure, "The Judas Kiss" off 2008's ‘Death Magnetic’ is a cool song title, but it's certainly not a stand-out in the band's repertoire. Musically, the song is a bit like a mix between "Whiskey in the Jar" and "Enter Sandman," which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not nearly as good as either of those songs. (AE)
Is the song about the devil or maybe something hornier? Perhaps that’s up to the listener to decide, but the riffs in “Devil’s Dance” sound super sleazy and really wouldn’t be out of place at your local jiggle joint. (EB)
James Hetfield takes a cold hard look at his issues with alcoholism on “Dirty Window.” While it’s one of the shorter tracks on ‘St. Anger,’ clocking in at 5:24, it could’ve easily been more effective with at least a minute trimmed off. (EB)
“Here Comes Revenge” is the flame that keeps the fire burning on the second half of 2016’s ‘Hardwired… To Self Destruct.’ The song is powered by a massive riff and covers a rather heartbreaking topic. In an interview with Marky Ramone, Hetfield said that the song was written for a couple that became fans of Metallica through their daughter whom they tragically lost in a car accident involving a drunk driver. “I was just trying to put myself in their shoes,” Hetfield said about writing the song, “It just hit me: ‘How can you guys find something positive in the world to connect you to your daughter again’ — which was Metallica, the music she loved.” (ST)
You can kind of see what Metallica was trying to do, but “The Unforgiven II” just could never measure up to the grandiose epic that was “The Unforgiven.” Let it serve as yet another reminder that not everything needs a reboot/sequel. (EB)
A doomy song, written by James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich with Robert Trujillo. Hetfield’s lyrics show a lack of faith in humanity (and can you really blame him?). (AE)
A song about death on an album titled ‘Death Magnetic.’ Crazy, right? Speaking of crazy, there are a lot of different elements and tempo changes to this track... almost as if the band took a variety of song ideas and just threw them together. It’s a very chaotic listen but not in a fun way. (EB)
Knock knock. Who’s there? It’s the “Hate Train” and James Hetfield’s the conductor and he’s furious! What Papa Het’s angry about isn’t quite known, however, his vocals on the chorus are rather haunting. (EB)
Metallica explored many political themes on ‘...And Justice for All,’ and in the decades since its release, many of those themes are still just as relevant today. In the case of “The Shortest Straw,” ideas around blacklisting are broached. (“Suspicion is your name/Your honesty to blame/Put dignity to shame/Dishonor/Witch-hunt, modern day/Determining decay/The blatant disarray/Disfigure”) How funny that if released today, somehow both sides of the political aisle would think the song is about their opponents. (EB)
It's hard not to immediately think of the infamous Metallica documentary of the same title when revisiting “Some Kind of Monster.” And that might frustrate some fans. However, one of the most frustrating things about this track is its lost potential. Like many ‘St. Anger’ tracks, it’s just too damn long when there was no real need for the length. (EB)
“Good day, how do?” We’re now in the thick of the ranking where the songs aren’t great, but they aren’t bad, per se. They’re just...fine. An above average hard rock band would probably kill for a riff like this, but Metallica is well above average, so “Wasting My Hate” is just...well...fine. (EB)
Perhaps Metallica’s way of trying to be dark and cheeky, “Prince Charming” paints a bleak picture of an unfortunate reality for the song’s protagonist despite the seemingly warm and inviting title. (“I'm the forty-five that's in your mouth, I'm a dirty, dirty whore.”) At least the solid riff and groove can distract the listener from the self-sabotage. (EB)
“Thorn Within” is a song that seemingly grapples with being your own worst enemy. There is loads (pun intended) of potential here, but a monotonous riff throughout drags the whole track down. (EB)
“Carpe Diem Baby” packs some big swagger that always delivers regardless of how many times you revisit the track. No need to search for a hidden meaning here. Just seize the day, motherf---ers! (EB)
“The House Jack Built” isn’t the first song about alcoholism/sobriety on this list and it won’t be the last. Even novice drinkers know which “Jack” James Hetfield is referring to, and if it wasn’t already obvious, lyrics like, “Is that you there or just another demon that I meet?" make it a bit clearer. (EB)
We’re certainly a far cry away from the magical world Maurice Sendak created in the classic children’s book of the same name. Something far more sinister lies within the realm of this Metallica tune, and it’s seemingly about how often young people are sent off to fight battles their elders started. (“So wake up, sleepy one/It’s time to save your world/You’re where the wild things are/Toy soldiers off to war”). (EB)
It’s understandable why 'Load’ pissed off so many of the Metallica faithful with its very jarring departure from metal, but for those that dig bluesy, twangy hard rock, the album had some unique standouts, like “Poor Twisted Me.” The track delivers a straight-from-the-groin groove that is hard to deny, even for the biggest haters. (EB)
Despite Metallica embracing a very different sound on ‘Load,’ one thing about the band that didn’t change was their penchant for epics. “The Outlaw Torn” is a wild jam that clocks in at 9:48, the longest track on ‘Load,’ but it was originally nearly 11 minutes long. A chunk of the jam was cut so the album could easily fit on a CD without potentially impacting playback. However you feel about ‘Load,’ “The Outlaw Torn” brings the LP to a very mighty close. (EB)
“Rebel Of Babylon” is another solid, aggressive track with a monster riff on the ‘Beyond Magnetic’ EP that makes us wonder how it didn’t make the cut on ‘Death Magnetic.’ It only leaves more questions for the band and the album’s producer Rick Rubin. (EB)
Call it Metallica’s “Jeremy”: our titular character is bullied to the point of committing a mass shooting. Though never confirmed, it’s presumably based on actual events that occurred in Washington about a year before ‘Load’ was released. (SP)
Originally picked as the lead single for the Black Album before being beat out by “Enter Sandman,” “Holier Than Thou” brings the defiant attitude you’d expect from the band, but with an air of maturity. Rumor has it that Hetfield wrote the song about his agitation with producer Bob Rock, but he later clarified that it was a jab at the music industry at large. (SP)
"Of Wolf and Man” might just be one of the most bizarre songs in Metallica’s catalog. The track’s narrative follows a man that turns into a wolf during a full moon. Once again, it’s very bizarre, but its tight groove is a pleasant distraction from the lyrical content. Oh, and how is it that Ted Nugent hasn’t covered this song by now? That seems like a lost opportunity for the Motor City Madman. (EB)
The topic of James Hetfield’s late mother is broached a number of times on ‘Load’; “Cure” addresses both his mother and his upbringing as a Christian Scientist, which is strongly against medical treatment. (“Betting on the cure/It must get better than this/Betting on the cure/Yeah, everyone's got to have the sickness/'Cause everyone seems to need the cure/Precious cure.”) (EB)
Lars Ulrich’s military-style drums that open “The Struggle Within” add a nice touch to the closing track of “The Black Album.” In fact, the entire drum track is just killer and truly adds to the intensity of the mental health anguish explored in the song’s lyrics. (“While you struggle inside your hell-ow/(Reaching out) Reaching out/Grabbing for something you have got to feel/(Closing in) Closing in/The pressure upon you is so unreal.”) (EB)
Metallica is certainly not the band to get “softer” with age, especially when it comes to lyrical content. James Hetfield discussed the PTSD-themes in “Confusion” in an interview with the Metallica fan club zine ‘So What!’ saying, “... PTSD is everywhere, man. Things that happen to you in your childhood, or you know, sports figures, anyone who wears a uniform, who’s gone out there and portrayed a life of service, giving, or using force, power... There’s lots of different forms of PTSD, even being in a band...everything’s worked out for you...and then you get home; 'What’s my plan? What am I doing today?’ Feeling a little lost, trying to plug into your family. And they’re [saying], 'Where are you? Hello?' Everything’s taken care of. Why am I needed? I’m not needed!” (EB)
Regardless of the controversy amongst fans regarding 1996’s ‘Load’, “Hero Of The Day” is a shining moment from the album. The song was a far cry from the band’s earlier thrash metal, but is a certified radio classic and became the band’s second consecutive number one hit on the Billboard Rock charts. (ST)
The namesake of Metallica’s charity foundation comes from this final track off of ‘St. Anger.’ The nonprofit has done an incredible amount to support a wide range of organizations and causes. “All Within My Hands” caught a second wind as the single from ‘S&M2’ 16 years later, when the orchestral polish of the San Francisco Symphony made this hidden gem shine. (SP)
When listening to “St. Anger,” it’s difficult not to think back to the track’s music video filmed at San Quentin State Prison and how the song’s themes draw clear parallels to the prison’s inmates. Snare drum complaints aside, the song is still solid long after its release. (EB)
The opening track for an album sets the tone for the rest of the LP. “Frantic” did that, leading off ‘St. Anger.’ The song’s abrasive fury could inspire even the most on-edge person to say out loud, “You know what? I need to sit down and collect my thoughts for a minute.” How else are you supposed to process lyrics like, “My lifestyle determines my death style”? (EB)
Metallica is a thrash band at their core, and they really lean into that on the ‘Death Magnetic’ track "My Apocalypse." It's not the strongest track, though, largely due to Hetfield's lyrics, as he barks, "Mangled flesh, snapping spines/ Dripping bloody valentine/ Shattered face, spitting glass." (AE)
Kicking off with a haunting bass riff from Jason Newsted, “My Friend of Misery” is slyly biting and brutal. (“They say the empty can rattles the most/The sound of your own voice must soothe you.”) Understandably, the track gets a bit buried by some of the monster hits on “The Black Album,” but “My Friend of Misery” packs a ton of power and deserves more attention than it gets. (EB)
Halos and fire. Heaven and Hell. Good and evil. This is the overarching theme of the longest track on ‘Hardwired...To Self-Destruct.' James Hetfield would tell the Metallica fan club zine ‘So What!’ of the track, “There’s a juxtaposition in all of us, good, evil, and when does that come out, when does it show itself? Some people portray themselves as real saints, [and] the more their darkness is, the more they have to portray themselves as saints. So, you’re basically getting away from the real ‘you,' like you’re making up for all of this [stuff] that you think is really bad.” (EB)
Metallica is known for its lengthier tunes, so “Through the Never” is always refreshing since it packs so much punch and philosophical thought in a tight 4:04. (“All that is, was, and will be/Universe, much too big to see/Time and space, never ending/Disturbing thoughts, questions pending.”) (EB)
Written at the last minute in the studio for 1984’s ‘Ride The Lightning’ — with the intent of potential radio air-play — “Escape” ranks pretty low on the list of the band’s personal favorites from their catalog. Despite only being played live once (at the band’s Orion Music festival in 2012), the song has since been covered by modern metal giants Hatebreed and Gojira and has gained a cult following amongst diehard fans. (ST)
Kirk Hammett’s solo on this track is ridiculous! Holy f---in’ s---! That’s it. That’s what we have to say about “The End of the Line.” (EB)
Written about his mother whom he lost to cancer at age 16, James Hetfield’s lyrics to “Mama Said” are as moving as they are heartbreaking. (“I took your love for granted/And all the things you said to me/I need your arms to welcome me/But a cold stone's all I see.”) The country influence is strong here, but even if country isn’t your thing, you’d have to be crazy to not embrace this ballad. (EB)
“No Remorse” was certainly Kirk Hammett’s time to shine, as the song kicks off with a forty five second long blistering lead from the band’s newest member. Dare I say, this is extremely catchy for a thrash metal tune. Like every single song on the band’s 1983 debut, “No Remorse” is yet another thrash metal classic. (ST)
Upon first listen, “Ain’t My Bitch” sounds like it could’ve easily found a decent home on “The Black Album,” but then you hear Kirk Hammett play his slide guitar and then you quickly realize this track is a completely different animal altogether, which was definitely the overarching sentiment of ‘Load.’ (EB)
James Hetfield’s struggle with the loss of his mother and his family’s Christian Science faith surfaces again on “The God That Failed.” The pain and anger Hetfield feels is palpable and devastating. (“I see faith in your eyes/ Never you hear the discouraging lies/I hear faith in your cries/Broken is the promise, betrayal/The healing hand held back by the deepened nail/Follow the god that failed, yeah.”) (EB)
The murky, Black Sabbath-inspired intro into a heavy thrash riff is quite the chef’s kiss moment to kick off “That Was Just Your Life,” which is the opening track to ‘Death Magnetic.’ It was likely a welcome sound to many fans who were let down by ‘St. Anger’ five years earlier. (EB)
Metallica sure does enjoy the Cthulhu Mythos, and on “Dream No More,” we find H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu being directly confronted via a heavy, gloomy soundtrack that also features Robert Trujillo providing backing vocals. Another solid track from Metallica’s 10th studio album. (EB)
Co-written by Dave Mustaine, who later formed the thrash group Megadeth, “Phantom Lord” is often referenced as one of Metallica’s most underrated tracks. The scorching riff sports a punk influence, as does many other songs from this record, including “Hit The Lights” and “Whiplash.” (You know what they say: Mustaine “Wrote ‘Em All!”) (ST)
One of two original tracks written for Metallica’s performance with the San Francisco Symphony (more on the other one later), “-Human” deals with themes of fighting and escaping looming mortality, which was probably an interesting change of pace for the members of the San Francisco Symphony. (EB)
“2 x 4” leans heavily into blues rock territory with a healthy dash of forefathers Black Sabbath. While most of Metallica’s biggest songs are primarily in the metal vein, “2 x 4” remains an underrated track that should really get more love. (EB)
“All Nightmare Long” opens with an interesting riff that definitely has an “Enter Sandman” vibe, but then it settles into a hard AF thrash riff perfect for a song that describes a recurring nightmare about someone being hunted. The track is rather creepy but, somehow, rather fun. (EB)
Ah, a love song. To be united in eternal damnation is the ultimate commitment: “We could live forever.” This could be one of the most romantic songs in the Metallica catalog, second only to “Nothing Else Matters”. (SP)
“Bass solo, take one.” Cliff Burton’s signature solo track takes us on a journey, moving from haunting to playful to formidable over the course of four minutes. It’s more of a showcase of his personality than his talent, and it’s compelling all the same. (SP)
One of the most notable from the band’s debut record, “Jump In The Fire” is a riff assault that served as a precursor to what we would continue to see from Metallica for years to come. Appearing on Ron McGovney’s ‘82 Garage demo, “Jump In The Fire” was one of the first original songs in the band’s history and was also co-written by Dave Mustaine; although Hetfield changed and edited Mustaine's original lyrics to be something much less sex focused. (ST)
Familial relations are a recurring topic in the Metallica catalog, and those relations don’t tend to inspire warm and fuzzy tunes. “Fixxer” is a prime example. (“But tell me, can you heal what father’s done?/Or fix this hole in a mother’s son?/Can you heal the broken worlds within?/Can you strip away so we may start again?”) It closes ‘Reload’ on a very bleak note, but everyone musically shines on the track. (EB)
Metallica and their fans may have prided themselves on not being part of the mainstream in the ‘80s, but the ‘90s were a different story. There’s nothing wrong with writing a kick-ass tune that’s also accessible to the masses. Exhibit A: “The Memory Remains.” The track earns bonus points for likely introducing guest vocalist Marianne Faithful to a whole new generation. (EB)
"The Thing That Should Not Be," off 1986's ‘Master of Puppets,’ makes references to H.P. Lovecraft, not unlike "The Call of Ktulu" off ‘Ride the Lightning.’ That said, this is a great example of how Metallica's '80s songs are often influenced by science fiction, taking the listener on a wild ride with a surprise ending. (AE)
The vibe the San Francisco Symphony brings to “No Leaf Clover,” an original track penned for ‘S&M’, cannot be overstated. The lushness of their playing provides a unique juxtaposition for the heft of James Hetfield’s lyrics, especially on that devastating chorus: “Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel/Was just a freight train coming your way.” (EB)
How gut-wrenching are the lyrics of "Dyers Eve," off ‘...And Justice for All?’ "Dear mother, dear father/You clipped my wings before I learned to fly," Hetfield growls as the heavy song launches. It's well known that Hetfield's father left when he was 13 and his mother passed away not long after. The personal nature of "Dyers Eve" coupled with the track's thrash assault makes it one of Metallica's most open and honest songs. (AE)
Atlas, bearer of the heavens in Greek mythology, is summoned to lead this Maiden-esque charge into battle. The lyrics are some of the best in Metallica’s latter-day catalog; you can almost hear the sly grin through Hetfield’s call to arms. (SP)
“Fuel” could be renamed “Meme,” and fans would likely know the song you’re talking about considering its intro lyric and use of Papa Het’s popular “Yeah!” Similar to “The Memory Remains,” “Fuel” is a booming tune that perhaps attracted more people to Metallica. Once again for those in the back: It’s not a sin to create art that also appeals to the masses. (EB)
"Metal Militia" is the final track off 1983's ‘Kill 'Em All,’ and it, of course, packs a punch. As the story goes, it was mainly written by Dave Mustaine when he was still in the band. What makes "Metal Militia" a stand-out is simply how fast it is; back then, Metallica were really at the forefront of thrash metal. And the song was an anthem for metal fans worldwide. (AE)
Releasing their first record since the alternative rock explosion, Metallica definitely used some inspiration from the Seattle bands of the time who were ruling the rock charts; especially Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. This influence is scattered throughout the entirety of the record, but is especially present on “Until It Sleeps.” Even with the backlash the band received due to the chopping of their hair and the upheaval of the bands image, Metallica remained as successful as ever. “Until It Sleeps” climbed to the top of the Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts, earning the band their first number one. (ST)
Even though Dave Mustaine hasn’t played a note on a single Metallica recording, his influence and writing was prevalent on the band’s debut. Especially on this song; Metallica’s first epic. “The Four Horsemen” was originally an idea from Mustaine’s previous band, Panic, and was later also used in Mustaine’s own band, Megadeth, for the track “Mechanix.” The second song on ‘Kill ‘Em All’ is anything but predictable, flowing through a myriad of melodic sections while keeping the intensity that fans continued to crave on future releases by both Metallica and Megadeth. (ST)
The entire ‘Ride the Lightning’ album is a mark of massive growth for Metallica, especially on its title track, which deals with an inmate sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. Musically and thematically, these were not the same punk kids we met on ‘Kill ‘Em All,’ and this evolution would carry the band through to their masterpiece third studio album ‘Master of Puppets.’ (EB)
A beautiful, yet heartbreaking tribute to late bassist Cliff Burton, who receives a songwriting credit on this nearly 10-minute epic. (The bassline was written by Burton before his untimely passing and performed by Jason Newsted on the LP.) The only “lyrics” to the song is a four-line spoken-word section with the final two lines penned by Burton: “All this I cannot bear to witness any longer. Cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home?” (EB)
Some songs you’re only able to write when you’re young and hungry. “Motorbreath” is one of those songs. Packing a heavy dose of Motorhead influence and “f--- you” attitude, the track floors it out the gate and never takes its foot off the gas for the entirety of its 3:07. It’s living hard and fast in the finest way possible. (EB)
This track explores the concept of corruption, manipulation, and greed within religion. James Hetfield’s furious vocals accompany the heavy, inverted power chords perfectly. This one definitely goes down as one of the best on the record. And for ‘Master Of Puppets,’ that’s saying something. (ST)
"Bleeding Me" is one of the only Metallica songs that features a Hammond organ, giving it a vintage sound. But the lyrics hit hard: as Hetfield told ‘Playboy’ in their infamous 2001 Metallica feature, “Around the time of ‘Load,’ I felt I wanted to stop drinking. ‘Maybe I'm missing out on something. Everyone else seems so happy all the time. I want to get happy.’ I'd plan my life around a hangover: ‘The Misfits are playing in town Friday night, so Saturday is hangover day.’ I lost a lot of days in my life. Going to therapy for a year, I learned a lot about myself. There's a lot of things that scar you when you're growing up, you don't know why. The song ‘Bleeding Me’ is about that: I was trying to bleed out all bad, get the evil out. While I was going through therapy, I discovered some ugly stuff in there.” (AE)
Kirk Hammett referred to “Spit Out The Bone” as the ‘Mount Everest’ of the Hardwired album, and it’s certainly ambitious. We’re shown their full range of power here: wild solos trade off with a bass-heavy stomp, Hetfield beckons in one line and growls in the next, and Ulrich punctuates the narrative with his relentless drums. (SP)
“The Frayed Ends of Sanity” is an incredibly complex song that was never played live in its entirety until the 2014 “Metallica by Request” tour where fans voted on every setlist. After finally being performed live after being released 26 years prior, the track would surface on 11 more setlists. (EB)
We got four syllables for ya: Hurdy-gurdy! Perhaps Metallica’s most unique and most underrated ballad, “Low Man’s Lyric” is a stunning, melodic tune and one of the bright spots on ‘Reload.’ (Depending on who you ask, it’s *the* brightest spot on the entire LP.) You can safely say that no other song sounds like it in the Metallica catalog. According to Setlist.fm, the last time “Low Man’s Lyric” was performed live was back in September 1998 at a show in Chula Vista, Calif. Perhaps it’s time to throw this gem randomly on an upcoming setlist? (EB)
It’s amazing that “Eye of the Beholder” - a song about freedom of speech - hasn’t surfaced more during the 2020s with all the discourse about “cancel culture,” books being banned in schools, and other arguments related to social media. Its chorus is alarmingly relevant to this day: “Independence limited/Freedom of choice is made for you, my friend/Freedom of speech is words that they will bend/Freedom with their exception.” Like “The Shortest Straw,” the song still likely resonates on both sides of the political aisle, for different reasons. (EB)
Anyone concerned about whether Metallica is still able to churn out bangers needs to look no further than “Moth Into Flame,” a standout from their 10th studio album that was inspired by an unlikely source: Amy Winehouse. James Hetfield talked about watching the 2015 documentary ‘Amy’ and said in an interview in 2016, “Just watching that movie was extremely saddening – how her life went from being such a lively joyous person, to someone who was just trying to escape the reality of where she was... Growing up with it, how do you deal with fame? How does it affect you? At what point do you realize, ‘This might not be as healthy as I think it is for me?’” (EB)
On an album as genre-defining and monumental as ‘Ride The Lightning,’ it’s hard to keep the momentum from start to finish. But Metallica did just that. “Trapped Under Ice” kicks off side two of the album and is the blood-pumping monster needed to pick up the pace after the previous “Fade To Black.” Fills and solos from Hammett give even more power to this true thrash metal classic. (ST)
What a brutal song, from its sheer force to its narrative about a young soldier. The feverish pace at which Lars Ulrich plays the drums is so intense that you can almost feel your own pulse increase when revisiting this incredibly heavy track. And the refrain of “Back to the front!” never fails to hit you right in the gut. (EB)
"Orion" is a sentimental song for both Metallica and the band's fans, as it features late bass player Cliff Burton in a lead role. The song, co-written by Burton, kicks off with a collection of imaginative, sustained bass chords. And then there’s Burton's solo, which metal bassists continue to analyze to this day. (AE)
The lead track on Metallica’s first album in eight years makes a statement, and that statement is “Yep, still got it, motherf---ers.” These three minutes of speed-metal delirium are as sharp as any ‘Kill ‘Em All’ cut. The flippant attitude here - “We’re so f—ed! S--- outta luck!” - feels more delighted than doomed. After all, if we’re gonna go out, we might as well go out with a bang. (SP)
Don’t you just love it when the metal DROPS?! That’s what happens in the seemingly peaceful intro to “...And Justice for All,” and then comes the booming riffs and Lars Ulrich’s massive drums. If only the song’s lyrics – a critique of our justice system -- didn’t ring so true today. (EB)
"The Call of Ktulu" closes out ‘Ride the Lightning’ with an epic instrumental, offering murky riffs, sharp guitars and fiery solos. It's a true banger, with the title being a(nother) reference to H.P. Lovecraft’s story of the same title. It's well-known that Burton was a major fan of the writer. (AE)
“The Day That Never Comes” was a clear example of Metallica returning to their roots. The clean guitar intro is extremely reminiscent of “Fade To Black” from 1984’s ‘Ride The Lightning’ or “The Unforgiven” from 1991’s self-titled release. Lars’ unruly snare sound from ‘St. Anger’ is gone and Hetfield’s vocals are back on top. (ST)
“Then it all crashes down/And you break your crown/And you point your finger/But there's no one around.” Particularly scathing in its themes about perceived power and those that desire to have it, “King Nothing” is a near-flawless tune seemingly made for radio. Killer groove? Check. Bold guitar solo? Check. Massive chorus? Check. (EB)
"Harvester of Sorrow" is Metallica at their doomiest, featuring a dark undertone and thrash metal bite. James Hetfield doesn’t really spell it out for you, but the song seems to be about a man who is descending into insanity. Finally, at the end, he snaps and murders his loved ones. Creepy, yes, but also very Metallica. (AE)
A re-introduction to the band after the death of Cliff Burton, the opener of ‘Justice’ takes us on a turbulent ride. There’s enough time changes to make your head spin, and perhaps that was by design: Metallica were rising from the ashes of loss and proved how laser-focused, progressive and punishing they could be. Showy? A little, but their technical proficiency is undeniable. (And if you need a stiff drink after that whirlwind, Metallica named their branded whiskey after this track.) (SP)
“Roamer, wanderer, nomad, vagabond/Call me what you will.” Symbolic of road life for any rock band, “Wherever I May Roam” remains one of Metallica’s biggest arena-ready anthems from Lars Ulrich’s steady, yet thundering, drums to Kirk Hammett’s blistering solo to ample use of “Yeah-yeah!” (EB)
The lead track on their debut album, “Hit the Lights” may have been the first introduction to Metallica for some fans, and what a vigorous introduction it is! The band wastes no time telling people who they are and what they stand for. (“No life ‘til leather/We’re gonna kick some ass tonight/We got the metal madness/When our fans start screaming it’s right.”) (EB)
As previously stated, ‘Ride the Lightning’ showed that Metallica were no longer the punk kids we first met on ‘Kill ‘Em All,’ and “Creeping Death” is a perfect example. Punk kids usually don’t write songs about the Plagues of Egypt or write melodies, riffs and solos *this* sophisticated and blistering. The track is an outstanding achievement on a stellar album. (EB)
"Fight Fire with Fire" stunned fans with its acoustic intro – which was played by the late Cliff Burton. Coming off of the brutal ‘Kill ‘Em All’ album, no one expected delicate acoustics to kick off a Metallica record. But before you could get too used to the stripped-down sound, the song exploded into a full-fledged anthem, and one of metal’s greatest album openers. (AE)
If there’s one song that exemplifies Bay Area thrash, it’s “Whiplash.” Breakneck picking speed, double-time snare, banging faces against the stages: it checks all the boxes. Unabashedly self-referential, this is not only a blueprint of a genre, but the band’s mission statement: “We'll never stop, we'll never quit, 'cause we're Metallica.” (SP)
The high placement of “I Disappear” will likely upset a significant amount of people, and some angry DMs are likely in this writer’s future. (Honestly, bring it the f--- on, because you can’t please everyone.) However, “I Disappear” matters both as an undeniable hard rock treasure and to Metallica’s overall history. The track remains far more memorable than ‘Mission: Impossible 2’ thanks in part to James Hetfield’s “Hey, hey, hey” hook and Lars Ulrich’s chugging drums on the chorus. And then, of course, there’s the song’s connection to Metallica’s battle with Napster. The band may have taken significant heat during that legal fight, but never forget they were right for doing what they did. (EB)
"Nothing Else Matters" is a classic ballad; the fact that it was so unexpected made it even more powerful and moving. It appeals to both metalheads and pop fans, making it one of the band's most mainstream songs. It’s one of their few songs that appeals to non-metal fans. (AE)
Often referred to as Metallica’s first “ballad,” this track from the band’s magnum opus ‘Ride The Lightning’ (1984) is one of many that showed the band’s versatility; they could actually shift speeds from the aggressive thrash we saw on 1983’s ‘Kill ‘Em All.’ Like many Metallica songs, the lyrics dive into a rather heavy topic: the contemplation of suicide. The lyrical content has hit home for fans far and wide since its release and has remained one of the band’s greatest moments. (ST)
What’s the password? For the uninitiated in ‘91, the entry point for new Metallica fans was “Enter Sandman.” The lead single off of the Black Album opened the door of discovery, not only for the band but for an entire genre. “Enter Sandman” was a “gateway drug” for metal. Metallica’s legacy, from their underground thrash classics to their mass-appeal metal jams, has been debated to death over the past three decades. Was this ultimately good exposure for an underappreciated sound, or did Metallica just sell out? One thing is certain: that persistent, satisfying riff paired with nightmarish lyrics was the formula that sent Metallica into the stratosphere. (And that kid reciting the prayer? That’s producer Bob Rock’s son.) (SP)
“The Unforgiven” is a spiritual descendant to “Fade To Black.” The intro’s clean guitar has a western-esque feel that bleeds into a power chord heavy verse, and then simmers into a lighter chorus; breaking Metallica’s traditional song structure. It’s undoubtedly one of the most melodic songs we’ve heard from the band. It has thought provoking lyrics, aggressive *and* restrained vocals from Hetfield, melodic instrumentation from Kirk Hammett, and solid production. And no, “The Unforgiven” doesn’t hold the same aggression that you get on a song like “Whiplash,” but Metallica has always been able to incorporate a hefty dose of melody; this is a great example of that. (ST)
Grim and gripping, “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” is horrific in nature, but it’s a horror from which you just can’t look away. James Hetfield’s vivid lyrics paint a painful picture of mental suffering that is quite real and likely more common than most would be comfortable to admit. The word “heavy” gets bandied about often and is mentioned a lot on this list, but there really isn’t a better word to accurately describe the weight of this ballad. (EB)
"Seek & Destroy” remains a setlist mainstay all these years later for a reason. It is a straight-forward anthem that sounds just as fresh today as it did when it was first released in 1983. The lives of the surviving members of the band lineup from ‘Kill ‘Em All’ have changed over the years, but whenever they play “Seek & Destroy” live, all that piss and vinegar energy comes back. May they never lose that for the rest of their days. (EB)
‘Master of Puppets’ was the first (and so far, only) heavy metal album to be added to the National Recording Registry. It’s a thrash masterpiece, and our introduction to this collection of hellfire is the dizzying “Battery.” Hetfield takes the lead with the fervor of a guitar-wielding Don Quixote, and the rest of the band churns and spins around the chaos produced by his right hand. An ode to chosen family and the San Francisco scene that birthed Metallica, the song has become a rallying cry for metalheads - who can now justify a circle pit in the Library of Congress. (SP)
This is a rare Metallica track that practices restraint. There’s no complex arrangement here, and no wild deviations. It’s a different kind of swagger. Hetfield personifies every dark justification in your mind: “I'm your truth, telling lies / I'm your reasoned alibis,” fully seeping into your psyche before declaring “I’m you.” (SP)
‘Master of Puppets’ is one of Metallica's greatest albums, and the record comes to a screeching halt with the fiery "Damage, Inc." With five-and-a-half minutes of pure rigor and hard-charging heavy metal, the song is aggressive, fast and imaginative-- the perfect way to cap off such a legendary record. (AE)
With three albums under their belt by 1988, the band felt more confident in their compositions and used ‘Justice’ as an opportunity to experiment. Exhibit A is their magnum opus “One.” Hetflield’s lyrics and Hammett’s somber guitar solo set a devastating scene: a soldier begging for death after battle robs him of his limbs and senses. Metallica turn up the tension with artillery sounds and machine-gun blast beats, illustrating the horrors of war in a terrifying sonic arc. This track earned Metallica the Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance in 1990, providing just a shred of redemption for NARAS after the Jethro Tull misstep the year prior. (SP)
The remarkable growth Metallica showed on ‘Ride the Lightning’ is perfectly encapsulated in “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” It’s an absolute giant of a track that was a statement on metal’s evolution and where it was going as a genre. Its two-minute intro is the textbook definition of “epic.” If ‘Kill ‘Em All’ was where Metallica learned to crawl, then ‘Ride the Lightning’ and its strongest song “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was where the band learned to sprint. (EB)
How does one succinctly describe a song that’s not only *so* important to an iconic band but so important to the culture of a genre? Imagining metal without “Master of Puppets” is like imagining the pop world without “Billie Jean” or “Purple Rain.” Finding an entry point to describe a song as impactful as “Master of Puppets” is difficult, but perhaps the best test is really trying to think of how different the landscape would be without it and its influence. It’s hard to imagine a world without “Master of Puppets.” Thankfully, we never will. (EB)
Aerosmith: First To Worst
Aerosmith: Top 50 Songs in Their Catalog
It’s a dirty pun, get it?! (Would it really be a proper Aerosmith ranking without kicking things off with some crude humor?) It also wouldn’t be a proper Aerosmith ranking without pointing out the dynamic guitar work of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. “Lord of the Thighs” is the first of many examples of that on this list.
"Pink” isn’t even a dirty pun; it’s just dirty, but it’s a whole lot of fun. (Oddly enough, “Dirty, but a whole lot of fun” is a perfect, succinct way to describe the Bad Boys from Boston.) Steven Tyler’s harmonica is the bow on top of this package, which may or may not be wrapped in rubber.
There’s a lot of energetic tracks on ‘Honkin’ on Bobo,’ Aerosmith’s 2004 blues covers album, but the band’s cover of Smiley Lewis’ “Shame, Shame, Shame” is a standout. It only clocks in at 2:15, but damn, if it’s not a total party.
“Big Ten Inch Record” is so tongue-in-cheek filthy you’d assume the songwriting credit would read “Tyler/Perry.” It was actually written by Fred Weismantel and first recorded by Bull Moose Jackson in 1952.
“What you pissing in the wind for/You must have snorted too much blees” is probably one of Aerosmith’s most underrated lyrics ever. It’s fitting since “My Fist Your Face” is another underrated track in the band’s catalog.
While it was the lead single off of ‘Nine Lives,’ “Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)” could’ve easily found a home on 1993’s ‘Get A Grip’ thanks in part to the lovely use of horns. Also, only Steven Tyler could write lyrics like, “I’m jonesing on love/Yeah, I got the DT’s/You say that we will/But there ain’t no guarantees/I’m major in love/But in all minor keys.”
To be blunt, ‘Night in the Ruts’ is just not a great album. It’s one saving grace is this hard rock version of The Shangri-Las classic “Remember (Walking in the Sand).” The cover even features Shangri-Las's lead vocalist Mary Weiss as an uncredited backup vocalist.
This Peter Green-era Fleetwood Mac song has been a regular part of Aerosmith’s setlist since the early ‘90s, but it wasn’t until 2004’s ‘Honkin’ on Bobo’ that Aerosmith recorded the tune. Joe Perry is on lead vocals, and because he’s Joe f---in’ Perry, he can make a cool song sound even cooler.
Knowing Steven Tyler wrote “Seasons of Wither” inspired by a Massachusetts winter landscape, you can almost feel a chill in the air when listening to this track. Of course, if you’ve never experienced a harsh winter before and can’t relate to the bleakness that can sometimes come with it, buy a parka and go somewhere really cold for a week during the winter months. You’ll learn right quick what “Seasons of Wither” is about.
Some songs are just fun parties about being a rock star, putting on a great show and getting laid. “Lick and a Promise” is one of those songs. Joey Kramer’s drums come on strong out the gate and don’t let up for the whole track providing a no-nonsense backbone.
From the late ‘80s to the mid-’90s, Aerosmith seemingly couldn’t miss with their singles. Sometimes, they would hold onto them for years before releasing them. “Deuces Are Wild” was recorded during the studio sessions for 1989’s ‘Pump,’ but it would finally see the light of day in 1993 when it was featured on ‘The Beavis and Butt-Head Experience’ compilation album. It's pretty mind-blowing that such an obvious hit took so long to be released.
“I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” is Aerosmith’s biggest ballad for multiple reasons. Penned by songwriting powerhouse Diane Warren, the track was the lead single off the soundtrack from the 1998 blockbuster film ‘Armageddon,’ which starred Liv Tyler, daughter to Steven Tyler. From the beautiful string section to The Demon of Screamin’ hitting some of his boldest notes, it was simply the perfect song for an epic disaster movie. It also gave Aerosmith their lone number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in their whole career.
From the jump, Aerosmith wasn’t playing around as evident on “Make It,” the opening track from their self-titled debut album. (“When life and people bring on primal screams/You got to think of/What it’s going to take to make your dreams.”) It’s both a mission statement and a rallying cry. It might lack the bombast of other songs on this list, but it packs relatable drive and hints at the swagger fans would grow to love.
You gotta love a big, bold chorus, and they don’t get bigger or bolder than “Jaded.” It figuratively explodes with, “My, my baby blue,” and it glides on an effervescent riff. “Jaded” peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and remains the last Aerosmith song to appear on the chart.
On the surface, “Rats in the Cellar” is just a badass tune, but there’s a far darker backstory to it. Steven Tyler wrote in his 2004 memoir ‘Does The Noise in My Head Bother You?,’ “'Rats' was more like what was actually going on. Things were coming apart, sanity was scurrying south, caution was flung to the winds, and little by little the chaos was permanently moving in.” For those not fluent in Tyler-ese, the band was going through a tough time.
“I’m Down” wasn’t the first Beatles cover from Aerosmith, but their fun take on the raucous track sure is right at home on ‘Permanent Vacation.’ And the band just sounds like they’re having a blast, too. (BTW: You’ll see their other Beatles cover later in this list.)
There probably isn’t an award for “Coolest Song About Cannibalism,” but if there was one, “Eat the Rich” would surely be named the winner. From the weird jungle vibe to the overt middle finger to the snooty folks “dancin’ in the yacht club with Muff and Uncle Biff,” Aerosmith showed with this track alone that over 20 years into their career, they didn’t lose any of their edge.
Built around a chunky riff, 'Somebody’ seems to paint a somewhat desperate picture of loneliness. Steven Tyler begins asking for “a lady, not somebody shady,” but not long after he said he wouldn’t be “choosy” and would settle for a “floozy.” Honestly, haven’t we all been there?
A precursor to “Janie’s Got a Gun," “Uncle Salty” tells the sad story of a woman who was the victim of abuse as a child and would later become a prostitute. The track’s sustained blues was written by Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton, who also played rhythm guitar on the recording.
'Get A Grip’ was just chock-full of massive, arena-ready songs. “Shut Up and Dance” is one of those songs, and it wasn’t even released as a single in the United States. (And this album had six singles!) Many might remember it closing out ‘Wayne’s World 2’ when Aerosmith showed up at WayneStock. What people may not remember is that in addition to Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw also have songwriting credits on this jam.
“Woman of the World” is a whole damn vibe. From Joe Perry and Brad Whitford’s funky, melodic guitars in the nearly minute-long intro to the song’s titular subject itself, it just drips with cool.
A lover’s quarrel + booze + murder = Pretty much the perfect ingredients for a great blues song, which is exactly what “Hangman Jury” is. Add in Steven Tyler on harmonica and the beyond catchy hook of “Whoa, boy, dontcha line the track-a-lack-a" in the chorus, and what you had was the beginnings of Aerosmith’s second act.
Look, none of us really want to remember Aerosmith without Joe Perry, but if his absence was necessary to create “Let the Music Do the Talking,” so be it. The track, of course, was written by Perry and originally recorded and released by The Joe Perry Project in March 1980. While the actual music wasn’t altered much when Aerosmith re-recorded it for ‘Done With Mirrors,’ the lyrics were given a complete overhaul and for the better.
Since we’re already on the topic of Joe Perry, “Walk On Down” is the lone track on the packed ‘Get a Grip’ where he’s credited as the sole writer. He also sings lead and recorded backing vocals, too. No other song in the Aerosmith catalog is more Joe Perry than this one. Simply put: This song kicks ass. Any other band would’ve released “Walk On Down” as a single, but Aerosmith isn't just any other band, and ‘Get A Grip’ wasn’t just any other album. In retrospect, its tracklisting reads more like a greatest hits album than a studio album.
Steven Tyler knows how to paint a word picture more succinctly and more colorfully than others as evident on “S.O.S. (Too Bad).” Just look at the second verse for proof: “Salt Lake City, salt-licking betties/Bogies turn, stinking of gin/Well my daddy was hard, his face was pretty scarred/From kicking ass and playing poker to win.” Plus, that opening riff from Brad Whitford is just killer.
Similar to “Walk on Down,” “Line Up” would’ve been a single for any other band; it’s just that good! Helping Steven Tyler and Joe Perry in writing “Line Up” was Lenny Kravitz, who also provided backing vocals on the track. “Line Up” was also famously used in ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ during a montage of Ace (Jim Carrey) trying to track down which Miami Dolphins player kidnapped Snowflake, the team’s dolphin mascot. Sure, it wasn’t a single, but “Line Up” was prominently featured in one of the biggest films of 1994. Not a half bad consolation prize.
Anyone that has battled addiction or loves someone who has can easily relate to “Amazing,” one of Aerosmith’s most personal songs. Steven Tyler penned the lyrics with help from friend/former bandmate Richard Supa, who, like Tyler, struggled with addiction. It’s a sobering reminder that life truly is one day at a time. (Side note: “Amazing” also features backing vocals from Don Henley.)
We’ve all been here, haven’t we? Someone’s absolutely broken your heart, but despite that, you just can’t kick those deep feelings about them. “What It Takes” is truly one of the best breakup songs ever, and it features one of the best examples of Steven Tyler’s trademark scream in the chorus when he stretches out the word “dice.” It might not be the most acrobatic of his screams, but it really hits just right.
Horns! A massive sing-a-long chorus! A songwriting credit to Motown’s legendary team of Holland-Dozier-Holland due to it sounding too similar to “Standing in the Shadows of Love”! “The Other Side” has IT ALL! By the time it was released as a single, Aerosmith was on an incredible chart roll. The fourth and final single from ‘Pump,’ “The Other Side” was the band’s third number one song on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Song chart from ‘Pump.’
Sure, the 1978 film ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ famously bombed, but at least its soundtrack was significantly better. Easily among the high-points of the soundtrack was Aerosmith’s cover of “Come Together,” which would peak on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 23. There are plenty of Beatles covers in the world, but this is one of the best, which is the highest of compliments given the source material.
“Train Kept A Rollin’” was first recorded and released by Tiny Bradshaw in 1951 and was later covered by The Yardbirds, but Aerosmith was the driving force in popularizing the blues tune. The track’s two halves are the perfect yin and yang experience of loose blues and aggressive hard rock. A tip of the hat to Steve Hunter in the first half and Dick Wagner in the second, who provided the lead guitars on the recording.
Out of the gate on ’Toys in the Attic,’ Aerosmith just was not messing around, as was evident on the opening title track. Joe Perry and Brad Whitford were on another synergistic level and Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer provided a borderline anxious, but incredibly infectious, rhythm track. Whether “Toys in the Attic” has a symbolic or literal meaning is anyone’s guess, but when a chorus is that straight-forward and catchy, does it really matter?
By the time Aerosmith began recording ‘Draw the Line,’ their fifth studio album, drugs were really starting to tear the band apart. The album certainly wasn’t a cohesive work, but there’s no denying that its title track features all five members firing on all cylinders. They couldn’t get it together for an entire album, but they certainly did on ”Draw the Line,” one of the most undeniable bangers in their catalog.
“You See Me Crying” sends ‘Toys in the Attic’ off on a stunning, soaring note thanks to the beautiful use of a symphony orchestra and piano courtesy of Steven Tyler. Part of the song’s legend, of course, might come from how Tyler forgot at one point he wrote the touching ballad due to memory loss from excessive drug use. Supposedly during the recording sessions of 1985’s ‘Done with Mirrors,’ Tyler heard “You See Me Crying” on the radio and then told the band they should consider covering the tune. Joe Perry tactfully told Tyler, “It’s us, f---head.” The bummer of Tyler’s memory loss aside, Perry calling Tyler “f---head” is just plain funny.
"No More No More” finds Aerosmith enjoying the highs and lows that come with being a rockstar, from never seeing daylight, seeing plenty of hotel rooms and loving and leaving women “with your sold out reviews.” There likely wasn’t any blood stains on the ivories of the piano played by Scott Cushnie on this track, but there’s no doubt “No More No More” wouldn’t be the same without it.
Fun fact: Arrests for public fornication in elevators went up a staggering 69% percent following the release of “Love in an Elevator.” Okay, that’s a lie, but what is an absolute truth is just how ridiculously fun this song is. Is it out here trying to save the world? No, but it’s peak absurd lust, and that’s always welcomed. (Whoa, yeah!)
The ‘80s birthed a lot of power ballads, and “Angel” was definitely one of the best. It was a massive love song, but there wasn‘t anything cheesy about it, unlike some power ballads. Some of that could be thanks to Desmond Child, who co-wrote the song with Steven Tyler, and was coming off massive success with Bon Jovi -- he co-wrote “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” “Angel” is the second-highest charting song in Aerosmith’s catalog on the Billboard Hot 100 chart topping out at number three.
Another power ballad that isn’t cheesy! Hooray! Desmond Child returns again co-writing the track with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. Of course, it’s hard to talk about “Crazy” without mentioning its music video starring Alicia Silverstone and Liv Tyler, which closed out the “Silverstone trilogy” of Aerosmith videos (along with “Cryin’” and “Amazing”) in epic road trip fashion. Both the song and the video still hold up today.
There’s so much to love about “Rag Doll.” Once again, all five Aerosmith member are just in their respective grooves perfectly, especially Joey Kramer on the intro. The horns in the chorus are nothing short of delightful. Massive kudos to co-writer Holly Knight who convinced Steven Tyler to change the title to “Rag Doll,” which led to some minor edits to the lyrics. Its original title was “Ragtime,” which is just not a good title at all. Can you imagine “Ragtime” being a hit? Didn’t think so!
"Cryin’” explodes on entry and basically dares the listener to not get sucked in and hooked by the first run of the chorus. It’s a magical mix of blues, country twang and hard rock all while being super accessible to lovers of all those genres. It’s a big, bold, arena-ready song that’s just impossible to ignore. “Cryin’” is also the first video in the Alicia Silverstone trilogy and helped launch the actress into the pop culture stratosphere. The video ended up being the most-requested video on MTV in 1993 undoubtedly helping propel ‘Get a Grip’ to its massive success.
Aerosmith’s resurgence in the mainstream following their first initial boom in the 1970s can be traced back to “Dude (Looks Like a Lady).” The second single off of ‘Permanent Vacation,’ the track was the first hit collaboration of Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and Desmond Child. While the song has been accused of being transphobic in recent years, Child said in an appearance on a 2019 episode of the podcast “Talk is Jericho,” “... The wonderful thing about the song is, especially the second verse which goes, 'Never judge a book by its cover, or who you're gonna love by your lover' - that's a song of acceptance.” The song was famously included during a montage in the 1993 film ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ and it’s hard not seeing Robin Williams playing broom guitar whenever you hear this song now.
We don’t discuss the grizzly, bizarre narrative of “Same Old Song and Dance” enough, which makes sense because its killer groove takes up most of the listener’s attention. However, there’s murder, drugs, a potential police raid and an escape to the south side of town. This song is f---ing mental! While the opening riff understandably gets the most attention, the guitar solo on “Same Old Song and Dance” was recorded by Dick Wagner. Add in some killer horns, and you have a very unique recipe for a rock and roll classic.
Inspired by the 1992 Los Angeles riots, “Livin’ on the Edge” might just be the Aerosmith song that resonates the most today. Following the 2020 summer of activism against police brutality, the opening verse just lands heavier: “There's something wrong with the world today/I don't know what it is/Something's wrong with our eyes/We're seeing things in a different way/And God knows it ain't his/It sure ain't no surprise.”
Mr. Brad Whitford: please take center stage. The rhythm guitarist co-wrote this classic tune with Steven Tyler, which served as the first single off of ‘Rocks.’ Whitford also is responsible for the track’s guitar solo break. The funk influence on “Last Child” makes it one of the more unique songs in Aerosmith’s catalog.
“Mama Kin” may not have been a hit out the gate, but its legacy sure has grown in the almost 50 years since its release. The song captures a certain romantism about chasing the rock and roll dream that could only really be written by someone who is young and hungry and yet to reach stardom. After listening to “Mama Kin,” you’d be hard-pressed not to get a bug up your ass and finally take a chance on something. It just has that kind of spark.
The chugging build of “Back in the Saddle” draws you in, and then Steven Tyler’s screeching “I’m baaaaaccckkkk!” practically slaps you in the face (but in a good way.) There are plenty of songs in the Aerosmith catalog full of sexual innuendo, but the overarching old west themes in the song give “Back in the Saddle” a playful setting reminiscent of ‘Gunsmoke’ and Miss Kitty. Whether that was a concept Steven Tyler kept in mind when he penned the lyrics is anyone’s guess, but “Back in the Saddle” is yet another example of the type of magic the band can produce when all five of its elements are clicking.
Graphic and heartbreaking, "Janie’s Got a Gun” was inspired by stories Steven Tyler read about gun violence in the United States and sexual abuse suffered by children by their parents. It is one of Aerosmith’s most haunting and heavy songs both lyrically and musically. The song would net Aerosmith a Grammy in 1990 for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. In 2015, Tyler would launch Janie’s Fund, a non-profit organization offering resources and shelter for girls experiencing abuse.
Like “Mama Kin,” “Dream On” could have only been written by someone who was still scratching and clawing their way to make it big, which is probably why Steven Tyler’s lyrics are so relatable. Most of us have probably had a “Dream On” moment at least once in our lives, likely after being knocked down for some reason or the other. The song may have even helped you get back up and help you “Dream until your dreams come true.” “Dream On” is rightfully beloved, and not just because Aerosmith have played it 1,630 times live in their history. It’s because it’s symbolic of the band in general. They were five kids with a wild rock and roll dream, and they fought like hell to make that dream come true. If you don’t find that inspiring, you might just have to look in the mirror yourself and do some soul searching.
Intros and builds of a song have been mentioned elsewhere on this list, but without a doubt, ”Sweet Emotion” has the best intro/build of any song in the Aerosmith catalog. Tom Hamilton’s dope-as-hell bassline, Joe Perry’s talk box and, lest we forget, Steven Tyler’s shaking of sugar packets lays down a vibe like none other. (The perfect visual of said vibe was captured in the opening scene of the Richard Linklater film ‘Dazed and Confused,’ which featured “Sweet Emotion” providing the soundtrack for the first scene.) Sure, Tyler used the song to make some jabs at Perry’s then-wife, Elyssa, but if you’re going to be immortalized in a song (especially in a negative way), it better be good. ”Sweet Emotion” is more than just good; it’s a damn classic.
Really, what other song could be number one? From its beyond iconic riff to the way it would eventually bridge the gap between rock and hip-hop a decade after its release, “Walk this Way” is in the same company as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” It’s the kind of song every band dreams of writing, because it becomes part of the greater lexicon of pop culture; it transcends genre. Someone may not know a lot about Aerosmith’s catalog (BTW: How sad for them?), but they more than likely know or have heard of “Walk This Way.” (The fact the song’s title is a nod to a joke in ‘Young Frankenstein’ only makes its popularity sweeter.) The song also kicked off Aerosmith’s renaissance in the ‘80s thanks to Run-DMC's remake of the song with Tyler and Perry. Who knows what would’ve become of the Bad Boys from Boston had it not been for their collaboration with the “Kings of Rock”?! Only a song this good could have had multiple acts in a given career. Truthfully, music, in general, is better for the existence of “Walk This Way.”
The man hit the rooster on the head…