Dream On by Aerosmith from their 1973 debut album, Aerosmith. Written by lead singer Steven Tyler, this song was their first major hit and became a classic rock radio staple.
Released in June 1973, it peaked at number 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 but hit big in the band’s native Boston, where it was the number one single of the year on WBZ-FM, number five for the year on WRKO and number 16 on WMEX (AM). The song received immediate heavy airplay too on the former WVBF (FM), often showing up in the #1 position on “The Top Five At Five” in June 1973.
The album version of “Dream On” (4:28, as opposed to the 3:25 1973 45rpm edit) was re-issued in late 1975, debuting at number 81 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on January 10, 1976, breaking into the Top 40 on February 14 and peaking at number 6 on April 10. Columbia Records chose to service Top 40 radio stations with both long and short versions of the song; thus, many 1976 pop radio listeners were exposed to the group’s first Top 10 effort through the 45 edit.
“Dream On” was first played live in Mansfield, Connecticut, at the Shaboo Inn. In a 2011 interview, Tyler reminisced about his father, a Juilliard-trained musician. He recalled lying beneath his dad’s piano as a three-year-old listening to him play classical music. “That’s where I got that Dream On chordage,” he said.
Although the song’s vocals were originally often performed by the group’s drummer Joey Kramer, Tyler says that this was the only song on the band’s first album where he used his real voice. He was insecure about how his voice sounded on tape, so for the other songs, he tried to sing a bit lower and sound more like soul artists, such as James Brown. The song is also famous for its building climax to showcase Tyler’s trademark screams.