Wednesday, May 30, 2012

36 Songs, 36 Days (2012 Edition), Day Sixteen: Under The Bridge by The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Yeah...we're having fun!  Or Drugs!  No, it's fun!
And now....the band that tells you you're not a fan if you don't like their songs...which, I guess, makes sense.

This is a live version from a performance in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1999. And here's where Anthony Kiedis and Flea and them get to tell me I'm not a fan because....

I've got to admit, I never much cared for this song.

And I like loads of The Red Hot Chili Peppers work once they matured. There was that very early, very sloppy period at the very beginning of their careers where the funk and rock aspects sounded as if they were actively fighting each other (and when the band members seemed more concerned with misbehaving on purpose)...but then the death of original member Hillel Slovak seemed to act as a slap in the face of the rest of the group, and subsequent work showed a darkness and a sense of maturity--without losing the chaotic feel of those original albums--that suited the band to a 't.' Hell, one of my favorite songs of theirs still remains 'Knock Me Down,' where we are witness to Kiedis literally working out his feelings about Slovak's death in musical form. There are still moments where I think the group gets its head way too far up its own collective asses--the massive mess that was Stadium Arcadium, which was at its core a really, really great EP and some b-sides trying to fight its way out of a two record set that was intended to be a three record set, is a real sore spot, criticism of which prompted Flea to sneer the aforementioned comment about not being a fan if you didn't like their songs--but overall they've been consistently entertaining ever since the release of Mother's Milk.

But this song simply never grabbed me, which has always baffled me. I know it is an extremely sincere number, written by Kiedis to express both feelings of loneliness as he struggled with sobriety and his love of his home town of Los Angeles. But I've always felt the key changes and the choral break by his mother's church choir, and the general theatrics always serve to push me away rather than draw me in. And the funny thing is I suspect Kiedis felt something similar to how I feel about the song; according to stories, he resisted putting it on Blood Sugar Sex Magic and felt that the decision to release it as a single was a bad idea. But then, it might just have been that this particular song is so personal for him, so intimate, that the idea of throwing it out to the masses to embrace or reject on their whims was too painful to contemplate.

Obviously, I'm in the minority here, as this is one of the band's signature songs. And to be fair, it continues to mark a maturity of songwriting that falters a bit once John Frusciante left and came back and left and came back. So while I don't appreciate the song itself, I certainly appreciate the impact its success had on this band.

Even though I'm sure you've seen it by now, here's the video....

No comments:

Post a Comment