Rag Doll (Aerosmith song)

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"Rag Doll"
Ragdoll US.jpg
Single by Aerosmith
from the album Permanent Vacation
B-side"St. John", "Rag Doll (Rockapella Mix)"
ReleasedMay 3, 1988
Producer(s)Bruce Fairbairn
Aerosmith singles chronology
"Rag Doll"
"Love in an Elevator"
Music video
"Rag Doll" on YouTube

"Rag Doll" is a song by American rock band Aerosmith. It is from the 1987 album Permanent Vacation. It was released as the final single from the album in 1988. It was written by Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Jim Vallance, and Holly Knight.

Song origin[edit]

The song's lyrics were primarily written by Tyler and Vallance, Perry originating the guitar riff, and Vallance writing the bass line. The song was originally titled "Rag Time"; however, John Kalodner did not like that, so Holly Knight was called in to help change that lyric. She suggested "Rag Doll", which was actually another title Tyler and Vallance had considered.

Chart performance[edit]

In 1988, it peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, #12 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and No. 42 on the UK Singles Chart.

Song structure[edit]

The song is notable for drummer Joey Kramer's 1-2-1-2 lead beat in the beginning of the song, Joe Perry's slide guitar, and a horn section arranged by Tom Keenlyside.[6] The song is in B minor. The melody and lyrics to the second verse are based on the vocal countermelody of the Rolling Stones' cover of Hank Snow's "I'm Movin' On" that appears on Got Live If You Want It! in which Keith Richards sings "Yes, I'm movin'" in response to Mick Jagger singing "I'm movin' on". The music on the radio single differed from the album version in having a more urgent, driving beat, fueled by Tom Hamilton's bass, and slightly different sax notes. This version had an earlier fadeout, omitting the classic clarinet and trumpet duet behind Tyler's scat singing. The video (see below) is based on the album version of the song.

Notable B-side[edit]

The B-side of the maxi for "Rag Doll" contains a version of the main song, called "Rockapella Mix". This is a much sought-after version of the song, with a lot of the instruments missing from the track, and just an occasional bass drum.

Music video[edit]

The music video (directed by Marty Callner) flashes back and forth between an Aerosmith concert at Freedom Hall Civic Center and the Sigma Nu Fraternity house, both in Johnson City, TN. Other locations include Bourbon Street and Ryan's Irish Pub, both in New Orleans. In the video's closing moments, Steven Tyler is driving a Shelby Cobra down Hamilton Street in Johnson City.

Cover versions[edit]

Ted Nugent, Tony Franklin, Vinnie Colaiuta and Derek Sherinian covered the song for the Aerosmith tribute album Not the Same Old Song and Dance (Eagle Records, 1999). Backing vocals were by David Glen Eisley.


  1. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo (February 28, 2017). "Aerosmith Albums Ranked". Loudwire. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  2. ^ a b Masley, Ed. "25 best Aerosmith singles, from 'Dream On' to 'Crazy'". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 2021-03-16.
  3. ^ Popoff, Martin (2014). The Big Book of Hair Metal: The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal's Debauched Decade. Voyageur Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-1-62788-375-7.
  4. ^ "Sweet Emotion! Joe Perry Celebrates Birthday With Aerosmith, Slash at Yahoo Live Gig". Yahoo.com. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Big Ones - Aerosmith | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  6. ^ Big Ones (Media notes). Aerosmith. Geffen Records, Inc. 1994.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)

External links[edit]