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Verse Chorus Verse: Aerosmith – “Hangman’s Jury”

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The first time I heard "Hangman's Jury" by Aerosmith was when I saw them performed on MTV's Unplugged.  I was blown away by it.  The only blues I knew was blues-rock.  While "Hangman's Jury" won't win any awards for blues purism, the unplugged version sounded closer to the source than anything I'd ever heard at that point.  I can't tell you how many times I rewound my VHS recording of their performance to hear that song, but I can tell you why I rewound it that many times.

"Hangman" was the first song they played that night and my VHS picked up just past the point where the name of the song was flashed on the screen.  I had no idea what the name of the song was.  I just knew I had to have it.  That proved problematic.  This was pre-internet.  I couldn't just "google" it (I'm sorry, but I hate that google, e-mail, and text have become verbs in our every day vernacular).  I was going to have to be my own detective.

What I noticed from the rest of that performance is most of songs from that set were old songs from the band's '70s heyday.  Songs like "Walking The Dog," "Dream On," and "Toys in the Attic" made up the set.  While I was right about that, the conclusion I jumped to actually put me further from my goal than closer.

My saving grace, or so I thought, was that I was also in my pre-CD days. You could find Aerosmith's old Columbia albums in a lot of the cassette cutout bins, and that was important because I was on a $5 a week allowance.  My attempts at trial and error were going to be costly, but I had to follow the path to the song.  I bought Rocks, Get Your Wings, and Toys In The Attic.  They were great albums but none of them had the song.  I bought Greatest Hits and Draw The Line.  Two more strikes. 

Finally, at last, one day they run the show on MTV again and one of the VJs said the words "Hangman's Jury."  That was the only song I didn't know from having watched my VHS over and over.  That had to be it.  Within days, I went to the local music store and discovered I'd been searching the wrong bin.  Permanent Vacation was still selling for full price.  It was going to be awhile before that one came home with me, but as soon as I could rub a couple 5ers together, I bought that cassette and listened to that song three or four… hundred times.

I guess the subtitle to today's Verse Chorus Verse is "Yes, I've always been like this."

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About Josh Hathaway

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