5 Curious Facts About “Janie’s Got A Gun” By Aerosmith
Aerosmith for "Dream On" - Aerosmith / Youtube
“Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith is an iconic rock song that has captivated not just the fans f the band, but also music enthusiasts with its chilling tale of revenge paired with one of the most cinematic music videos on MTV.
Released in 1989 as part of the band’s tenth studio album called Pump, this track cemented the band’s status as one of America’s best rock bands as the Steven Tyler-fronted outfit continues to make waves in their comeback.
In 1990, the song would enter the US Billboard Hot 100 and peak at number four, as well as the Billboard Album Rock Tracks with an impressive No. 2. “Janie’s Got a Gun” was more successful in Australia, reaching the top spot and becoming Aerosmith’s first of two number-one singles there.
Beyond its success story and dark story, there are more curious facts surrounding this classic Aerosmith hit that reveal intriguing facets of its creation, reception, and lasting impact. Here are five of them.
Steven had to change a lyric for being too graphic
The song is about a girl who shoots her father due to sexual abuse. An angry Steven Tyler, who’s pissed about this reality, added some graphic lyrics in the song that would probably not pass the censors.
The line “He jacked a little bitty baby” was originally “He raped a little bitty baby”, and it was understandably too much for Geffen Records A&R executive John Kalodner who was concerned about their commercial success.
Kalodner believed that radio stations might refuse to air the track if its content was excessively explicit.
The Aerosmith frontman also recalled that Kalodner also requested another modification to the lyric, suggesting changing the line “put a bullet in his brain” to “stand out in the pouring rain.” However, Tyler declined to make this alteration.
Steven Tyler & Joe Perry writing) pic.twitter.com/vFaiScITi0
— VixenWulf (@VixenWulf) May 2, 2014
Tyler wrote this song with Tom Hamilton
“Janie’s Got a Gun” was co-written by Steven Tyler and Aerosmith’s bass player, Tom Hamilton. While Tyler usually collaborates with guitarist Joe Perry, Hamilton has played a notable role in the songwriting process.
Some of the bassist’s other notable co-written Aerosmith tracks include “Sweet Emotion” and “Kings And Queens.”
Tyler laid down the main riff of “Janie’s Got a Gun” by utilizing a low-tone setting on his keyboard, while Hamilton contributed the bassline. The guitars and drum sections were developed subsequently, with Tyler taking charge of the lyrics.
Perry’s guitar solo harmonizes with the central riff and is complemented by rhythmic clapping.
Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Tom Hamilton pose backstage while in Newport, Rhode Island. pic.twitter.com/YclfF9LAeR
— Classic Rock In Pics (@crockpics) January 19, 2021
The song inspired Tyler to establish a non-profit
Over twenty years after the song’s release, in 2015, Steven Tyler established Janie’s Fund in collaboration with Youth Villages, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for young girls who have experienced abuse and neglect.
Tyler’s 4th Annual Grammy Awards Viewing Party in 2022 was organized to benefit Janie’s Fund and set a remarkable record by raising $4.6 million for this cause.
In 2017, Tyler took a significant step by inaugurating the first Janie’s House, a safe haven for abused girls situated in Atlanta. A second Janie’s House was established in 2019, located at Youth Villages in Bartlett, Tennessee.
Tyler expressed his commitment, saying, “I’m gonna bring this Janie’s Fund with me wherever I go,” during the opening ceremony of the new Bartlett Janie’s House. “This does my heart and my soul good. This is real,” the rock singer added.
— billboard (@billboard) February 6, 2019
The music video was directed by David Fincher
Of course, the music video would be memorably cinematic. It was directed by a guy named David Fincher, who would later direct iconic movies such as Seven (1995), Fight Club (1999), Zodiac (2007), The Social Network (2010), and Gone Girl (2014).
Fincher’s skill in creating suspense within a scene becomes apparent in the music video, and numerous lighting and composition techniques employed in it would subsequently become characteristic of his full-length movies.
Around the time that he was hired to direct “Janie’s Got a Gun”, he was also Madonna’s favorite director, having led the music video productions for the Queen of Pop’s “Express Yourself”, “Vogue”, and Oh Father”, the first two of which won him the MTV Video Music Award for Best Direction.
The director currently holds the most nominations for Best Directing in the VMAs with eight nominations. Fincher would later transition to filming movies with Alien 3 in 1992 until he received acclaim with Seven.
— MVOD (@MVODTV) September 17, 2015
‘Janie’ got Aerosmith their first Grammy
During Aerosmith’s first two decades in the music industry, they achieved millions in album sales but did not receive a single Grammy Award. The first time they got one was with “Janie’s Got a Gun”, a track off their tenth album. Tenth.
Aerosmith won their first Grammy, the award for the Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, thanks to “Janie’s Got a Gun”.
It was kinda understandable since it took Grammy quite a while to embrace hard rock. The first time the Grammys presented an award for Best Hard Rock Performance was in 1990. Curiously, Aerosmith also earned a nomination during this time for “Love in an Elevator”, also from Pump.
In the following years, voters in this category grew more accustomed to Aerosmith’s work and gave them the award three more times during the 1990s for their songs “Livin’ On The Edge”, “Crazy”, and “Pink”,
— 🎸 Rock History 🎸 (@historyrock_) October 5, 2023