“FALLING IN LOVE” the deleted Cheshire Cat on hashish line and the evolution of the demos

Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)” is a song by American hard rock band Aerosmith that appeared on the band’s 12th studio album, Nine Lives (1997). The song was written by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Glen Ballard, who had signed on to produce Nine Lives but was dropped from the role halfway through production and replaced by Kevin Shirley.

The song talks about the difficulty of falling in love and the struggles that come with it. It’s most likely about a guy who finds himself constantly being “used” by women for oral sex. Steven Tyler often writes playfully sexual lyrics where the woman is in control (see “Walk This Way”), and this is a great example. Our hero gets emotionally involved with these girls, but they just want one thing, and it “ain’t one of these.” If fact, these women don’t even need a man for this, so he’s fighting an uphill battle.

The theme of the song revolves around the challenges of love and relationships and how they can affect a person’s life. The song also touches on the idea that falling in love can be unpredictable and that there are no guarantees when it comes to matters of the heart.

Tyler wrote this with Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry and with Glen Ballard, who is best known for co-piloting Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album and producing Wilson Phillips, but has worked with artists in a range of genres and had no trouble rocking out with Aerosmith. In a Songfacts interview with Ballard, he told the story:

“I wrote that in Miami at the Marlin Hotel, Suite 205, with Joe Perry and Steven Tyler. We were down there for six months making a record and I had this whole set-up in my suite at the Marlin. Steven Tyler, talk about hearing somebody sing! He could sing for 12 hours straight when we were writing and never get tired. I don’t think I’ve ever been around a singer who never gets vocally tired. I mean, cast-iron pipes. His range is utterly tremendous – he’s one of the greatest singers and it goes unrecognized just how many things he can do. We were just trying to be funny. We were just having fun that day, and it’s Aerosmith, so of course I’m not going to do a Wilson Phillips song with Aerosmith. We started off with a riff and we made it right there in that hotel room. That was some of the most fun I’ve ever spent, and the guys were all sober then, so I was getting them high on coffee all day long. I had an espresso machine in my room and Steven was totally into it. We would drink like 10 cups of coffee and write. It’s a coffee high for the whole album.”

Glenn Ballard

During the initial demo sessions in 1995 at the South Beach Studio, an initial version of the song included a few extra lines at the end of the bridge, immediately before the guitar solo which said:

You’re on ‘do not disturb’,
Have you been smoking herb?
Your Cheshire Cat is on hashish, own it, own it, own it…

Deleted bridge lyrics from the early 1995 Falling in Love demo

The lines would have added a bit of playful and suggestive humor to the song. They don’t necessarily affect the overall theme of the song, but they add to the tone and style of the lyrics. The lines suggest that the person being addressed is in a state of relaxation or even possibly under the influence of drugs, which can make falling in love even more complicated and difficult. The repetition of the phrase “own it, own it, own it” at the end of the lines emphasizes the idea of taking responsibility for one’s actions and choices, which is an important aspect of relationships and love.

Different TV crews visited the band while recording in South Beach, Criteria and Avatar studios, and with a combination of at least 5 different TV segments, the video above was compiled, which includes the deleted section and a shot of the actual section of the lyrics scratched off the sheet.

The song went on to be fully produced as was the first single off Nine Lives to have a video clip, it follows the travails of a masochist, opening with a scene where he is trapped in a box and leashed by his tongue. It was directed by Michael Bay, who filled it with quick cuts of striking, but often nonsensical imagery, something he became known for in his film work (Pearl Harbor, Transformers, etc). It won for Best Rock Video at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.

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