Walk This Way

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“Walk This Way” is a song by American hard rock group Aerosmith. It was written by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. It was originally released as the second single from their 1975 album Toys in the Attic. It peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early 1977, part of a string of successful hit singles for the band in the 1970s.

In addition to being one of the songs that helped break Aerosmith into the mainstream in the 1970s, it also helped resurrect their career and revolutionized rock and roll and hip hop music when it was re-made in 1986 with rappers Run-D.M.C. on their album Raising Hell. It became an international hit and won both groups a Soul Train Music Award for Best Rap – Single in 1987.

The song was covered by UK girl groups Sugababes and Girls Aloud as the official Comic Relief single in 2007.

The song starts out with the famous two measure drum beat intro by Joey Kramer, followed up the equally famous guitar riff by Joe Perry. The song then goes into the verse, with a steady drum beat and bassline by Tom Hamilton forming as the backbeat, with dueling guitars by Joe Perry and Brad Whitford. The lyrics, which tell the story of a high school boy losing his virginity, are sung quite fast by Steven Tyler, with heavy emphasis being placed on the rhyming lyrics (i.e. “so I took a big chance at the high school dance”). This rap-style delivery — which may explain why the song worked so well as a rap song when it was re-made 11 years later — was ahead of its time.

Between the elaborately detailed verses, the chorus primarily consists of a repetition of “Walk this way, talk this way”. In collaborations, the other singer often says “talk this way” every alternate line of the chorus. Live in concert, Steven Tyler often has the audience, combined with members of the band, sing “talk this way”. There is also a lengthy guitar solo at the end of the song, and in concert, Steven Tyler will often harmonize his voice to mimic the sounds of the guitar. In the Run-D.M.C. cover, the turntable is added in to reflect the additional hip hop influence on the record.

While the band were working on Toys in the Attic, having written the music for the song but having difficulty coming up with lyrics for it, they decided to take a break and see Young Frankenstein, where the “Walk This Way” gag provided the basis (or phrase) for the lyrics.

While the Run-DMC cover is nearly identical to the original version of the song, the Girls Aloud/Sugababes cover has a few changes tweaked into the song; the additional line “Walk this way, you wanna talk this way” is added, the vocoder is added, and the beat is slightly sped up to add a further Britney Spears-esque bubblegum pop/dance pop influence to the song.

Both versions of the song, the original Aerosmith version and the second Aerosmith/Run-DMC remake version, appear on various Aerosmith compilations.

“Walk This Way” was one of two hit singles by the band to hit the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1970s, the other one being a re-release of “Dream On”. “Walk This Way”, though, helped “Toys in the Attic” to be the bestselling Aerosmith album, and one of the most critically acclaimed. Aerosmith’s version of “Walk This Way” often competes with “Sweet Emotion” and “Dream On” for the title of Aerosmith‘s signature song, being one of the band’s most important, influential, and recognizable songs. The band almost never omits it from their concert setlist, still performing their classic version of the song to this day. The song has also long been a staple of rock radio, garnering regular airplay on classic rock, mainstream rock, and Album-oriented rock radio stations.

In 1986, the rap group Run-D.M.C. performed a cover of “Walk This Way” with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry guesting on vocals and guitars. The 1986 version of the song is often credited as helping break rap into mainstream popular music as it was the first rap song to hit the Top 5 in The Billboard Hot 100, and the remake demonstrated how elements of rap music can be part of rock and pop songs. It also samples briefly the opening drum intro of the original in a middle section of the song. This version of “Walk This Way” charted higher on the Hot 100 than the original version, peaking at #4. It was also one of the first big rap singles in the UK, reaching a peak of #8 there. The landmark collaboration catapulted Run-D.M.C. into mainstream stardom and would influence rap music for years to come. The song paved the way for other pop acts to introduce elements of hip hop into their music. It pioneered the trend of rap/sung collaborations that is so present on American Radio in the late 1990s and 2000s. The collaboration also introduced a fusion of hard rock and hip hop, later known as rapcore, to a wide audience for the first time. The song also marked a major comeback for Aerosmith, as they had been largely out of mainstream pop culture for several years, and their 1985 comeback album Done with Mirrors, flopped. After this comeback, however, Aerosmith would follow up with a string of multi-platinum albums and Top 40 hits, starting with the album Permanent Vacation and single “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” in 1987.

The 1986 music video for “Walk This Way” symbolically placed Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. in a musical duel in neighboring studios before Tyler literally breaks through the wall that separates them. The video then segues to the bands’ joint performance on stage. The highly popular video was the first rap video ever played in heavy rotation on MTV and is regarded as a classic of the medium.

In 1989, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry joined Bon Jovi at a concert at Milton Keynes Bowl in the United Kingdom for an encore performance and extended jam of the song.

On September 9, 1999, Kid Rock joined Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith for an updated rendition of “Walk This Way” at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards. In 2002, Kid Rock and Run-D.M.C. (as separate acts) opened for Aerosmith on the first leg of the Girls of Summer Tour. Each night, at the end of Aerosmith‘s set, Kid Rock and Run-D.M.C. would join Aerosmith for an encore collaborative performance of “Walk This Way”.

At the Super Bowl XXXV half-time show in January 2001, performers *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly joined Aerosmith onstage for an encore performance of “Walk This Way” with members of *NSYNC and Britney Spears singing different parts of the 2nd verse, Mary J. Blige adding background harmony, and Nelly performing a rap towards the end of the song.

At the Hyde Park Calling festival in London on June 24th, 2007 (a date on Aerosmith‘s 2007 world tour), Aerosmith were joined on stage for their encore performance of Walk this Way by Run DMC’s Darryl. – source:Wikipedia

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