Walk This Way
by Run-DMC & Aerosmith
"There's a backseat lover / That's always undercover / And I talked till my daddy say"
If you're a fan of the original Aerosmith version of "Walk This Way," this will sound pretty familiar to you.Deep Thought
Check out the original lines: "Backstroke lover / always hidin' 'neath the covers / till I talked to your daddy, he say." Run-DMC didn't have to come up with totally original lyrics for this song because Steven Tyler's lyrics were already well suited to rap. Like a lot of early Aerosmith songs, "Walk This Way" has rapidly sung verses with heavily emphasized rhymes... just like most "golden-era" hip-hop.
"So I took a big chance at the high school dance"
High school just never seems to get old in American pop culture; how many great songs, TV shows, and movies created by adults are set in the halls of our hallowed teenage educational institutions?Deep Thought
In 1986, when Def Jam Records unleashed the Run-DMC version of "Walk This Way" on the world, Jam Master Jay, DMC, and Run were all 22 or 23 years old – young enough that singing about high school girls didn't seem totally creepy.
Aerosmith's Steven Tyler was nearly 40, but let's not go there.
(And in his semi-defense, when the original Aerosmith version of the song came out in 1977, he had only been... 29.)
"Walk this way, talk this way"
Tyler switches up his chorus – from the original "Walk this way, walk this way" to "Walk this way, talk this way" in the remake – which we think (a) sounds more interesting and (b) plays well in the context of Aerosmith's groundbreaking collaboration with Run-DMC.Deep Thought
The slight change in the chorus makes the lyrics into more of a call and response, which is perfect for this genre-breaking collaboration. Steven Tyler emphasizes the shift by switching between a raspy high-pitched scream and a lower-pitched snarl on each phrase. In the context of the music video, and the rap/rock mix that this song created, we might even say that the lines index the cultural rock/hip-hop rivalry. Watching the flamboyant Steven Tyler dance with his sash-laden microphone next to black-clad and Adidas-wearing Run-DMC, you can see the clash not just in the styles of classic rock and classic rap, but in how they walked and talked, respectively.
"There were three young ladies in a school gym locker / And I find they were lookin' at D"
Run-DMC changes the lyrics from "lookin' at me" to "lookin' at D" in order to reference DMC, one member of the trio.Deep Thought
"D," or DMC, had more than his fair share of nicknames. Born Darryl McDaniels, DMC had the childhood nickname Darryl Mac. When he started deejaying in the late 1970s, he adopted the nickname "Grandmaster Get High," in homage to Grandmaster Flash. McDaniels then turned from deejaying to rapping. When he teamed up with Jam Master Jay and Run in the 1980s, he changed his name to "Easy D," then to "DMcD," then finally to "DMC."
"She start swingin' with the boys in the school / With your feet flyin' up in the air / Singin' hey diddle diddle / With the titty in the middle / I was swingin' like I didn't care / So I took a big chance at the high school dance / With the miss who was ready to play / Wasn't me she was foolin' / 'Cause she knew what she was doin' / When she told me how to walk this way, she told me to"
Tyler sings this verse (the second in the original song) exactly as it appears in the original.Deep Thought
By the time this verse rolls around, it's already clear that "Walk This Way" is pretty awesome to rap over. But when Tyler jumps in on the verses, you realize, "Wow, this rock song was already a lot like rap." The song and the music video play out as the uniting of two different music styles, but maybe the real message is that the two genres weren't really all that far from each other in the first place.