As a young teen, I was pretty fixated on Aerosmith’s 1993 album release “Get a Grip” and the hits that came from it. It was such a mix of Hard Rock and Pop, along with a mix of Steven Tyler’s attitude (which was most shown off during video performances – but that’s acting in part; lyrically it showed up in songs like “Flesh” or “Crying”.
The song that won me over was track #5 on the album, “Livin’ on the Edge”
In 10th grade I wrote an essay about the song and how it seemed to be an overall view of life and how we “live on the edge of sanity and sobriety”. From the viewpoint of a 15 year old, that seems to fit just fine. And in a way, it’s still something that goes with the song.
The thing is, sitting here oh-so-many years later and thinking about the music (and listening to it), I’ve gone a few more inches regarding the song’s overall meaning. It’s fitting now with how we’re all reacting to things in the political world or social sphere…. But it’s been that way for a long, long time. Hell, its human life.
There’s something wrong with the world today
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…
We’re livin’ on the edge
Something wrong with the world today
The light bulb’s getting dim
There’s meltdown in the skies
If you can judge a wise man
By the color of his skin
Then mister, you’re a better man than I….
Those are the first two verses of the song and they give an overall view of an honest, everyday life in US society. We’re always pushing for something or seeing a wrong transpiring with the news of someone else’s accomplishment or met benchmark. And while we strive to achieve or right a wrong, we feel or see more wrongs, more doom and gloom that make us wonder just where the hell we’re going as a world.
Perhaps the most profound and murkiest line of these two verses is the wise-man declaration. The statement irons down the fact that this is everyone. Not just groups you prefer. That fact and we all have high points that need to be seen instead of where we came from.
This is the last verse of the song:
There’s something right with the world today
And evrybody knows it’s wrong
So we can tell’em no or we can let it go
But I would rather leave it hanging on
We’re all living on the edge. It’s life. And life itself – having it, experiencing its achievements, pitfalls, horrors, celebrations, comics, remorse, adventure, frustration, etc… It’s what’s always been there. It’s also society; it’s the social sphere of humanity. Its life, and it’s damn well better lived than mourned as if the end was here.
I think it’s a middle verse, sung twice, that nails this down:
Tell me what you think about your sit-u-a-tion
Complications, aggravations, it’s getting to you
If Chicken Little tells you that the sky is falling
Even if it wasn’t, would you still come crawling
I bet you would my friend
Again and again, and again, and again and again…
For everything you see as wrong, for every doom that tells you the end is nigh, you’re going to keep going. You have things to accomplish, social gains to achieve or to support, political gains or protests to vent.
And while we’re Livin’ on the edge, the backing vocals of the chorus seem fitting:
Livin’ on the edge
You can’t help yourself from falling
Livin’ on the edge
You can’t stop yourself at all
… With a double-deep vocal simply repeating everybody behind the “You can’t” lines.
We see peril, doom, and upheaval. You might be on the political left or right, you might be a vegetarian or a meat eater, you might be a guy, girl, transgendered, gay, bisexual, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, Indian, militant, pacifist, etc, etc… We’ve all got our places to go, people to see, things to do, and items to achieve. It’s what’s driving us and dividing us all at the same time. It’s the edge of life – it’s the world happening. And happen, it’s going to do. That’s living,