Under the Bridge
By The Red Hot Chili Peppers
Did you know?
In the 90’s, the Red Hot Chili Peppers dominated much of the music scene. As the predominately electronic disco music of the 80’s was on its way out of the door, alternative rock began to form it’s popularity in the next decade. Under the Bridge was released as a single in 1991 in the Album Blood Sex Magik. It was their fifth studio album, however this would be the Chili Peppers first step to becoming the widely renowned band that they have become. Under the Bridge’s release earned the band a spot on the 1992 Lollapalooza Tour, which is accredited for much of their initial success. Previously, from the influence of lead vocalist Anthony Kiedes, the band had been experimenting with a funk and rock hybrid. This unique music style was diverse to say the least, and would not yield a following like the one that was to come. With the release of Under the Bridge and the overall success of Blood Sex Magik, the Chili Peppers transformed into an alternative rock band. Upon it’s releasing, the song would be have a positive reception, staying on the “Billboard Hot 100” list for 26 cumulative weeks, peaking at number 2. Other notable awards include being the “Rolling Stone” 98th greatest song of all time, as well as #54 in MTV’s greatest pop songs since the Beatles.
The first 30 seconds is filled with the song’s signature riff, courtesy of former lead guitarist John Frusciante. This leads to the vocals as Anthony Kiedes starts off with the first verse. Originally a poem of Kiedis that he did not intend on sharing, the song tells a story of deep pain from losing a friend. The lines, such as “sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner, sometimes I feel like my only friend,” refer to the death of former band member and friend Hillel Slovak in 1990 from a drug overdose. Referring to his hometown of Los Angeles as the “City of Angels”, Kiedis writes about many of the hardships he had during this time, including drug use and the feeling of loneliness. He sings that he “drives on her streets ‘cause she’s my companion” in speaking to how he would drive sometimes just to escape the feeling of being isolated. There is also slight irony in the song, as originally he sings as Los Angeles being a refuge, but also a place of trouble. In the last verse Kiedes admits to doing drugs under a bridge downtown, singing “Under the bridge downtown is where I drew some blood…… Under the bridge downtown I gave my life away.” As Kiedes was originally to embarrassed to share a piece of work this personal to him, the songs great sound and emotional appeal made Under the Bridge arguably one of the greatest songs of it’s genre.