Sweet Emotion

"Sweet Emotion" is a song by the American rock band Aerosmith, released by Columbia Records in April 1975 on the album Toys in the Attic[1] and was released as a single a month later on May 19.[2] The song began a string of pop hits and large-scale mainstream success for the band that would continue for the remainder of the 1970s. The song was written by lead singer Steven Tyler and bassist Tom Hamilton, produced by Jack Douglas[2][3] and recorded at the Record Plant.[3]

"Sweet Emotion"
Aerosmith Sweet Emotions.jpg
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Toys in the Attic
B-side"Uncle Salty"
ReleasedMay 19, 1975 (1975-05-19)
RecordedMarch 14, 1975
StudioThe Record Plant, New York City
GenreHard rock
Length3:09 (single version)
4:34 (album version)
Producer(s)Jack Douglas
Aerosmith singles chronology
"S.O.S. (Too Bad)"
"Sweet Emotion"
"Walk This Way"
Audio sample
Sweet Emotion
Music video
"Sweet Emotion" (1991) on YouTube


"Sweet Emotion" was released as a single on May 19, 1975,[2] and peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band's breakthrough single and their first Top 40 hit.[4] The day it hit No. 36 on the U.S. chart, July 19, 1975, Aerosmith was booked at a gig in New York City's Central Park, called the Schaefer Music Festival. The song and consequently the album that went into the Top 10 were so successful that the band decided to ride the heels of success and re-release one of their first singles, the power ballad "Dream On", which had originally charted at No. 59 in 1973.[5][4] The re-released version went on to hit No. 6,[5][4] the highest chart performance in the 1970s for the band.[4] "Sweet Emotion" remains successful in the modern day, having sold over three million digital downloads.[6]

Lyrical interpretationEdit

Many Aerosmith fans believe that Steven Tyler wrote all of the lyrics to the song about the tension and hatred between the band members and Joe Perry's first wife. Tyler himself has said that only some of the lyrics were inspired by Perry's wife. It was stated in Aerosmith's tell-all autobiography Walk This Way and in an episode of Behind the Music that growing feuds between the band members' wives (including an incident involving "spilt milk" where Elyssa Perry threw milk over Tom Hamilton's wife, Terry) may have helped lead to the band's original lineup dissolving in the early 1980s.[7]

The line "Can't catch me / Cause the rabbit done died" is a reference to the rabbit test.[8]

Song structureEdit

"Tom Hamilton wrote the music for 'Sweet Emotion,'" recalled producer Jack Douglas. "He had that bassline. And when Joey Kramer came in, he played on the twos and fours instead of the ones and threes, so he was playing on the backside of it. When we heard that, we went, 'Oh, boy! Magic.'"[9]

"Sweet Emotion" is a hard rock[10] song with a repeated electric bass riff tracked alongside the bass marimba, played by Jay Messina in the beginning. Steven Tyler shakes a packet of sugar in place of maracas, as none were available. The introduction builds with the use of a talk box by Joe Perry, which has become one of the most famous uses of the guitar talk box in popular music (Perry's guitar "sings" the line "sweet emotion" over Hamilton's bass riff). Eventually Tyler joins in, singing in unison with Perry's talk box. The talk box device used was called The Bag, made by Kustom Electronics. The now discontinued device had been used by guitarists including Jeff Beck and Mike Pinera.

The song kicks into a more rocking rhythm with dueling guitars, and rapid-fire angry-sounding lyrics sung by Tyler. The chorus consists of a repeating guitar riff followed by a mirror of the "sweet emotion" intro.

On the 1980 compilation Aerosmith's Greatest Hits, "Sweet Emotion" appears in edited form. The bass and talk box introduction is removed, and the track begins with the chorus that precedes the first verse. The guitar solo at the end of the song is also removed, and the track concludes with the chorus, which repeats as the song fades. This edit was used for the original single release of the song, which was replaced in subsequent pressings with the album version from Toys in the Attic.



The song has been included on almost every Aerosmith compilation and live album, including Aerosmith's Greatest Hits, Pandora's Box, Pandora's Toys, O, Yeah! Ultimate Aerosmith Hits, Devil's Got a New Disguise, Live! Bootleg, Classics Live I, A Little South of Sanity, Greatest Hits 1973–1988 and Rockin' the Joint.

The song is frequently cited as Aerosmith's signature song, including in the World Almanac and Book of Facts, and regularly competes with "Dream On" and "Walk This Way" for the title of Aerosmith's "signature song" elsewhere.

It is often included on "greatest song" lists or "greatest rock song" lists, including a ranking of No. 408 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[11]


The original recording was remixed by David Thoener and released as a single in 1991 in coordination with the release of the band's box set Pandora's Box, although the remixed version was not in the box set. The difference from the original is that the drums are mixed louder with more reverb, the instrumental segue between verses is twice as long and the same as the segue between the 2nd and 4th verses and their subsequent choruses, and a guitar harmony has been added at the fade-out. A new music video was filmed and released in support of the single. The re-released version reached No. 36 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and No. 74 in the United Kingdom. The remixed version was later issued on the soundtrack to the 1998 film Armageddon.

Music videoEdit

The video for the re-released version is based on a phone sex conversation. The video, directed by Marty Callner, shows a young man under his covers with a magazine which is advertising a phone sex line. The young man, who says he is a 26-year-old attorney, and the phone sex operator talk about each other for a while, until it goes into a shot of the band performing in a basement (this portion of the video was actually recorded in an old warehouse in the Charlestown Navy Yard, which substituted as the band's old apartment on 1325 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston). It switches back-and-forth between Aerosmith performing "Sweet Emotion" and the phone conversation. At the very end, both the phone sex operator and the young man are shown to be very different from each other's perceptions; she is an overweight older woman with a baby living in a run down house, and he is a teenage boy. Throughout most of the video, Perry is playing a Gibson Les Paul but plays the solo on a Fender Stratocaster.

The video is also a homage to the 1983 film Risky Business, in that the opening scenes of the young man talking to the woman are almost identical to the scenes in the film of Tom Cruise's character talking on the phone to the call girl.

Release historyEdit

Region Date Format A-Side/Tracks Time B-Side/AA-Side Time Label Catalog # Barcode Edition Series Notes
US May 1975 7-inch 45 RPM Sweet Emotion (Edit/Mono) 3:09 Sweet Emotion (Edit/Stereo) 3:09 Columbia/CBS 3-10155 Demonstration Co. Sleeve
US May 19, 1975 7-inch 45 RPM Sweet Emotion (Edit) 3:09 Uncle Salty (Edit) 3:30 Columbia/CBS 3-10155 Co. Sleeve[12]
US Oct 1991 CD Single Sweet Emotion (Remix) 4:34 Columbia/SMEI CSK 4219 Demonstration Picture Card
US October 31, 1991 CS Maxi-Single Sweet Emotion (Remix)


Circle Jerk




Sweet Emotion (Remix)


Circle Jerk




Columbia/SMEI 38T 74101 098707410147 Picture Sleeve[13]


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Toys in the Attic - Aerosmith > Overview". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Greatest Hits (CD insert). Aerosmith. U.S.A.: Columbia Records. 1993 [1980]. CK 57367.CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ a b Toys in the Attic (CD insert). Aerosmith. U.S.A.: Columbia Records. 1993 [1975]. CK 57362.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ a b c d "Aerosmith - Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved November 15, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Aerosmith | Music Videos, News, Photos, Tour Dates, Ringtones, and Lyrics | MTV". MTV. Archived from the original on June 29, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2017.
  6. ^ Appel, Rich (February 14, 2015). "Revisionist History, Valentine's Day Edition: Captain & Tennille Crunches Aerosmith, Van Morrison Boots Lulu". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
  7. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYLOrT5vRso&index=6&list=PLbqqclCB64XFU643uyCjWpBLBT88a8JlG[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ https://genius.com/1955059
  9. ^ https://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/production-legend-jack-douglas-on-18-career-defining-records-568681
  10. ^ William Phillips; Brian Cogan (March 20, 2009). Encyclopedia of Heavy Metal Music. ABC-CLIO. pp. 15–. ISBN 978-0-313-34801-3.
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Sweet Emotion / Uncle Salty". Rate Your Music.
  13. ^ "Sweet Emotion CASSETTE MAXI SINGLE". Zia Records.


  • Dafydd Rees & Luke Crampton (1991). Rock Movers & Shakers. Billboard Books, ISBN 978-0874366617

External linksEdit