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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Steven Tyler's Hard Rock Lesson on Life...

Steven Tyler
When I was a little kid, I remember wanting to be a rock-and-roll star. I wanted to be the singer in a band (which still comes out whenever my wife and I have gone to karaoke bars with our friends) and play lead guitar. In other words, I wanted to be the center of attention, which is a characteristic of pride that even today often surfaces. Then again, I wanted to be a cowboy and a trapeze artist too! (I was a big fan of Kurt Douglas and did you ever watch the movie Trapeze with Burt Lancaster?  C'mon.  Admit it. Who wouldn't want to be a trapeze artist?).

Fortunately, as I got older, I decided to pursue a more reachable goal; Major League Baseball player! (I always believed in setting the bar high) 

Anyway, on a more serious note, when I thought of being a rock star as a kid, I was thinking of the fame, the fortune, and the fun (sort of like my daughters now want to be Cheetah Girls) but, I didn’t give much thought to the chaotic lifestyle that these individuals live.  A life of constant travel, living from a suitcase from hotel room to hotel room, the strain on relationships and the temptations of drugs, alcohol and meaningless sex, which unless one is empty inside, gets old pretty fast.  Those meaningless encounters often have consequences.

I recently read an article on about American Idol's Steven Tyler, previously known as the lead singer of the legendary rock band, Aerosmith, that brought this to mind. 

Tyler lived, or may still live, the life of a true rock star but in an autobiographical book on Aerosmith, titled, Walk This Way, Tyler opens up about one of the darkest moments in his life; when he took a friend's advice and allowed his underage girlfriend to have an abortion.
Long before he won accolades as an American Idol judge, Steven Tyler was a bona-fide rock star, with all that that implied. In 1975, when he was in his late 20s and the lead singer for the band Aerosmith, Tyler persuaded the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Julia Holcomb, to make him her legal guardian so that they could live together in Boston.
When Miss Holcomb and Tyler conceived a child, his longtime friend Ray Tabano convinced Tyler that abortion was the only solution. In the Aerosmith “autobiography,” Walk This Way (in which recollections by all the band members, and their friends and lovers, were assembled by the author Stephen Davis), Tabano says: “So they had the abortion, and it really messed Steven up because it was a boy. He … saw the whole thing and it [messed] him up big time.”
Tyler also reflects on his abortion experience in the autobiography. “It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives. … You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”
Most of those who were closest to him at the time say it really tore him up inside.  The pain and emotional scars it left sent him spiraling to seek comfort in drugs and alcohol, to the point of addiction.  It was so bad that when a new girlfriend got pregnant, she left him because he was so out of control.  The daughter, Liv Tyler, was raised by another rocker, Todd Rundgren.  In the book, Tyler admits that he never got over the decision he took completely.

Years later, when Tyler married, and he and his wife were expecting their first child, he was still haunted by the abortion: “It affected me later. … I was afraid. I thought we’d give birth to a six-headed cow because of what I’d done with other women. The real-life guilt was very traumatic for me. Still hurts.”
Since then, Tyler, who is now in his 60's, has divorced, remarried and divorced again and fathered four other children in the process.

One of Aerosmith’s biggest hits in recent years, and one of my favorites, as a fan, is Amazing. It is a song Tyler wrote about his struggles in life and about finding his way.  The words say, “Had an angel of mercy to see me through all my sins. There were times in my life when I was going insane, trying to walk through the pain… I was so sick and tired of living a lie, I was wishing that I would die.”

But, then it says, "It's Amazing.  With the blink of an eye you finally see the light.  It's Amazing... And I'm sayin' a prayer for the desperate hearts tonight."

As they say in baseball, there's only one way to go when you hit rock bottom (of course, this saying wouldn't translate well for a trapeze artist!). 

It reminds me of something that I heard once that really struck me, there is no sin greater than the love God has for us.  Repentance and the humility to ask God for forgiveness is a grace and big part of healing, no matter how far we think we have gone...

So, in retrospect, I see I don't have the singing prowess to have made a very good rock star and obviously don't have the physical talent to be a trapeze artist or a baseball player.  Would I have best been suited as a cowboy?  Oh well, I really don't think wrangling cattle or bucking horses is my thing anyway...

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