Monday, September 27, 2010

Electric Relaxation: Red Hot Chili Peppers "Under the Bridge"

For my money, I'll argue that the Red Hot Chili Peppers (along with Guns N Roses) are the greatest band California's produced in my lifetime. And this is arguably the greatest song they've written, a love letter to our city. I listened to it again this weekend and figured it was time to share.

"I felt an unspoken bond between me and my city. I'd spent so much time wandering through the streets of L.A. and hiking through the Hollywood Hills that I sensed there was a nonhuman entity, maybe the spirit of the hills and the city, who had me in her sights and was looking after me." (from Anthony Kiedis' autobiography)

Anthony also said he wrote this in the depths of despair and loneliness. The story's been well-documented on how the music came together so I'll tell you why I love it.

It's beautifully written. It's sung with an emotional honesty that doesn't appear much on Blood Sugar Sex Magik underneath the punk-funk, sex talk and blistering energy. That opening line grabs you like he knows what he means "Sometimes I feel like, I don't have a partner."

If you're from LA, there's something in that which just gives you pride in being from here and also expresses how easy it is to feel lost in a city so big. In a sea of faces, it's easy to drown even when you have great friends. This is what I felt at some point this weekend and the song just reminds me that I'm not the only one while speaking to my mood.

But the chorus is so uplifting. When Anthony puts more force into those words, it's self encouragement. "I don't ever wanna feel like I did that day. Take me to the place I love. Take me all the way.". And suddenly I don't feel bad anymore, I want to do more to uplift myself and rediscover my good mood. Then there's that that heavenly ending - the hope that I can escape this bad vibe and find my place.

Granted AK ended it talking about escaping with some drugs under the bridge. But we all long for that escape. It's such a sad song but there's optimism in it. Maybe that's why I love it so much. A beautifully written ballad that not only is an anthem for my city but a message to anybody who's felt lonely and wants to rediscover that mojo.

(Sidenote: I'm actually not a big fan of Blood Sugar Sex Magik outside of a few songs. Something about its sound didn't grab me like the last 3 albums did and I actually like Mother's Milk as a whole.)

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