Story Behind the Song: Steven Tyler, ‘I Make My Own Sunshine’
On his country-tinged solo album We're All Somebody From Somewhere, Steven Tyler included a song called "I Make My Own Sunshine." Written by Alyssa Bonagura, the song first took shape while the tunesmith was studying at England's Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, but wasn't completed until a number of years later, at her publisher and manager's urging. Below, Bonagura tells The Boot about what inspired the song and how her boyfriend, Graham Whitford -- son of Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford -- began the chain of events that led to Tyler recording her tune.
I was in Liverpool, it rained all the time, and I kind of wrote that song as, like, a pick-me-up. I wrote the chorus, and I had it for years, and when I graduated college, I got a publishing deal, and my publishers heard the chorus from Garage Band ... and he was like, "Alyssa, you need finish this song," and my manager at the time was like, "You need to finish this song," and I was like, "Really? I just kinda wrote it for fun." And they were like, "No, really."
And so I finished the song, and, like, a month later, it was on a Lowe’s commercial nationwide, and that was in 2012, and I did it all on my computer -- produced it all myself, did everything ... and so then I released that ... I always knew that song was really special, because it was so cool to get emails from people that it helped ...
Apparently Graham sent a [different] song that I had wrote to Steven without me knowing ... and Steven contacted me and was like, "Oh my god, I love this song," and long story short, he came to my show ... and he heard me sing "I Make My Own Sunshine" that night, and he walked up to me after the show, and he goes, "Alyssa! Can you send me that song?" And I was like, "Yes, of course I can send you that song!" And since then, we just became really good friends ...
It's just amazing to have a legend ask you those things and appreciate your music, and he’s so lovely, such a lovely human being, so I just feel really lucky ... I knew he was making the solo record, but I just thought he wanted me to send it to him because he liked it, and when he told me he was cutting it ... I cried. I remember crying the first time I heard it because I was so happy, you know? It's just so cool when another artist cuts your song.
I think like music is bigger than all of us, so when a song you write touches someone else that also creates music, it’s a really humbling experience, because that’s how it connects us all, you know what I mean? It's pretty cool.