Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?

Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?
by Steven Tyler with David Dalton
narrated by Jeremy Davidson
13.0 hours

If you've ever been caught singing "Dream On" while strumming on an air guitar and listening to your Walkman...; If you were one of those staring in hurt bewilderment at a Joe Perry Project logo stenciled into the sidewalk outside of the Narcissus nightclub in Boston...; If your heart soared at the sight of a flying piano... Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? is for you!

Ostensibly the memoir of Aerosmith's lead singer, Steven Tyler, there is no denying that it has to be a history of the band as well if only because Steven Tyler has been the lead singer for over two-thirds of his life. Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? is a recounting of a life of seeming cliche: drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll; but it is much more because it is the story of an icon who helped forge the cliche into the consciousness of every burgeoning American adolescent mind. The excesses described are not for the prudish. Hardly an apologia, Steve Tyler describes his rock 'n' roll lifestyle and the circuitous route to the man he is today. It's a fascinating look into Steven Tyler's mind, like dipping your toe into a stream of unconsciousness.

Jeremy Davidson does a remarkable job, for all that he is not Steven Tyler, of narrating this memoir. While purists may prefer authors to narrate their autobiographies, the choice of Jeremy Davidson is a solid one. Mr. Davidson has a more distinctive New York (?) accent than Steven Tyler, but the spirit of Steven Tyler's oral history is so strong, the free-form scat so distinctive, that the listener can hear Steven Tyler through Jeremy Davidson. Jeremy Davidson speaks clearly, attentively and, does not get in the way of the text.

There is a bit at the end if the book in which Steven Tyler talks about the book itself. While superficially seeming to be a free-associative ramble, the monologue is actually structured to highlight the key themes of the book. It also inadvertently gives props to David Dalton for organizing Steven Tyler's story into the book and, to Jeremy Davidson's clear rendition of the same text. Early in the listening experience of the memoir itself, one might think that Steven Tyler's words were tempered by either/both David Dalton and Jeremy Davidson; but it becomes clear in the monologue that both men served the text well and were about as transparent in delivering their respective trade crafts as you could want. Steven Tyler might have brought in some added value as the narrator of his own memoir, but while he could probably have gotten away with singing the lyrics embedded in the text; he wouldn't have been singing the whole text, i.e. Steven Tyler is a singer, not a narrator. His distinctively raspy voice and verbal pauses might not have worn well over the thirteen hours. It's also had to imagine him being tethered to his own text, even if he did write it himself!

Other Stuff: I received a review copy of Does the Noise in My Head Bother You? upon request from Harper Audio, Inc.

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