“THREE MILE SMILE” from pre-production rehearsals in ’79, to Connecticut, Crespo’s solo, and Perry reclaiming it live in ’84

Night in the Ruts album cover session alt photo by Jim Shea

A leaked studio tape with one of the band’s pre-production rehearsals in early 1979, during a break from the road, contains several short clips of the band developing the riff sequence for what would become “Three Mile Smile”.

It sounds like a later version of the “I Live In Connecticut” demo from the “Pandora’s Box” box set; these clips help the listener link the progress from Connecticut to Smile. At this point, they hadn’t quite figured out the chorus. The verse riff sounds a lot like “Rockin’ Train” from Joe’s first record. The tape recordings were sourced from a cassette and the audio sounds like a heavily de-noised version of the original (probably processed by a fan, rather than an engineer). The band can be heard talking to each other and producer Jack Douglas.

It includes 15 assorted tracks of the creation of the song, some brief, some near-complete, including a couple of riff variations that didn’t make it into the final song. You can tell how much production work was done to select, order and refine the riff structure to get to the final product. One of the longer “takes” from the tape can be found below.

The song was recorded with Joe Perry still on guitar, pre-breakup, with Jimmy Crespo providing the solo after Perry’s departure. The alt formation of the band premiered the song live on-tour in 1979.

As the original lineup of Aerosmith rejoined in 1984, Perry came up with a new solo and additional arrangements, reclaiming the song as his own during 1984’s “Back in the Saddle tour”. Joe’s version of the solo is completely different from the track Crespo recorded, faithful to his raw style, it gives the audience a taste of what his take could have sounded like on the record.

Tyler’s lyrics were inspired by Three Mile Island, the nuclear plant near Harrisburg where a reactor meltdown occurred on March 28, 1979. A limited documentary series about it was released on Netflix in 2022, “Meltdown: Three Mile Island“. The song talks about radiation leaks from Nuclear power plants and its effects, thus the play on names from Three Mile Island. Tyler often said in concerts that it was meant to be a political comment, “Aerosmith’s first political song”, and joked “those people were smiling for miles and miles!”.

Take a walk in the warm New England sun
Ain’t no time to look for clues
You get the point from Uncle Sam’s loaded gun
Who be the hand that light the fuse, ah

Take a look, take a look at my old billy goat
He used to raise all kinds of hell
He took a dose of radiation dope
Back in the barn is where he fell, like hell

Lucy, chromosone
Lucy, superdome

What makes you think you patronizin’ my old friends
After you ride in my car, car
What do you do when your oil’s mexican
OPEC boys, you went too far, to faar

Lucy, chromosone
Lucy, superdome
Lucy, papadum
Lucy, sing the song

(Ah), dig it up
(Ah), leave it up
(Ah), dig it up
(Ah), leave it up

Look out!

2 thoughts on ““THREE MILE SMILE” from pre-production rehearsals in ’79, to Connecticut, Crespo’s solo, and Perry reclaiming it live in ’84

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