The first sign that Aerosmith were back as a creative force and writing new material came during this year’s American Idol finale in May, where singer Steven Tyler signed off as a judge by joining the band to perform “Legendary Child,” their first new song in eight years. With the big rock guitars of Joe Perry and Brad Whitford behind him, Tyler barked and wailed just like the old days, and even quoted from 1975’s “Walk This Way,” remembering when “I took a chance at a high school dance . . . ” The lyrics go on to describe the life since, and “That same show/ 40 years ago /is being televised tonight.”
The song was officially released in July as the first single from Music From Another Dimension!, accompanied by a high-concept music video of a girl carrying a coffin-shaped package being chased on roller skates. Aerosmith have been playing it on the road ever since. But “Legendary Child” has another, more profound meaning for the band – completing it was the first sign that their reunion in the studio was finally going to work out this time.
“Joe put the lead lick down. It was, ‘Oh my God, we’re back,'” Tyler says now. “It was so incredibly true at that moment to me that the band was back in the severest of ways. I was overjoyed.”
Aerosmith tried repeatedly to reconvene over the last several years, but were derailed every time by tension, breakups, tour-ending injuries, American Idol and more. Things already looked a lot different by last summer as the band began creating songs with producer Jack Douglas. Basic tracks were recorded, and soon the veteran rock act was invited to submit a song for the soundtrack to the upcoming action film G.I. Joe: Retaliation, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis.
The instrumental track for “Legendary Child” was submitted, though Perry insists a song is never really a song until vocals and all other parts are finished: “Until then they’re just riffs.” The filmmakers liked what they heard but needed to hear Tyler’s vocals before committing. It was just the push the singer needed.
“So that weekend, Steven said, ‘I gotta throw down,'” Perry recalls. “He went in and really sharpened the pencils and laid down a vocal. That was the first complete song. It had the vocals, the lyrics, the band track. That was the point where it was like, ‘We got one.’ We know we can do it now.”