Commencement 2003 - Steven Tyler's Address


Commencement 2003 - Steven Tyler's Address

Steven Tyler's remarks to the Berklee College of Music graduating class of 2003, delivered at the Reggie Lewis Track Center, Boston, Massachusetts, May 10, 2003


  Steven Tyler

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  Farnswoth Blalock Photos

Thank you, thank you, thank you, very much. Uh, huh! For those of you that were there last night, I wanna thank you all for letting me be the lead singer of the greatest, no, the second greatest rock band to come out of Boston. From that concert last night, to let me sing along with you all, it was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Yes, it was.

You know, this is great. I can remember when I was four years old, I said to my mother, "Mommy, when I grow up I wanna be a musician." She said, "You can't do both." And I love this state. And then my mother sang to me:

  • Kimo, kaimo, stair-a-stair. Ma-hi, ma-ho, ma-rumstick-a-pumpernickle, soup, bang, knit cap, parliament, cameo, I love you.

Three years old. So, I interpreted that now to uh,

  • This is not candy store rock and roll, corporation jelly roll, play the singles, it aint me, it's program insanity, you ASCAP or BMI, could ever make a mountain fly, (Breath) if Japanese can boil teas, then where the hell's my royalties?!

You see how that works? So, now a Doctorate. This is a profound honor, because it comes from an institution that is dedicated to the pure art of music.

Now, I've always believed in the power of music. I'm driven by it. I always knew it was my life. In fact, I used to drive by Berklee, passed out in the back of a van on my way home from a midnight set at Bunratty's, where we played for beer and the owner still tried to stiff us.

A career in music is a road that's constantly under construction. Mine was paved with passion, ambition, and a series of extremely lucky mistakes.

So, in all likelihood, our musical educations were very different. Though with some of you that may be debatable. The important stuff is the same. We share those qualities of passion and ambition. All of us in this room may be different shapes, sizes, colors, may have different interpretations of a G string, and come from different places.

But it's the DNA that tags us as members of the same tribe. In other words, we're all here ‘cause we're not all there. And that's a really good thing! Just think, I'm being honored in the same company as Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington, David Bowie, not to mention the brilliant and talented Dianne Reeves. It's an embarrassment of riches.

I'm very flipped out with the work that's been done here at Berklee. It's a refuge for everyone who thinks in rhyme, walks in rhythm, and dreams of melody. Everyone who draws a breath just to hit a note. Shakespeare called it the food of love. Thomas Carlyle called it the speech of angels, and John Lee Hooker called it a healer. So I suppose that makes this a well fed, heavenly place of healing. Long may you serve the cosmic spirit.

I'd like to thank Berklee president Lee Berk, Gary Burton, and all the trustees. Thanks to my mother for reading me fairytales and singing me to sleep, and who wove music into the tapestry of my everything. Thanks to my family now who support me in every way I know. And thanks especially to my father, Victor Tallarico, for letting his magic flow over me as I sat beneath his Steinway piano while he played. And my thanks to you, the class of 2003.



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