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Famous Musical Pieces: Under the Bridge

Famous Musical Pieces
Under the Bridge

Composed and performed by: Red Hot Chili Peppers
Released: March 13, 1992
Album: Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Producer: Rick Rubin
Hear the song here

Inspiration
The producer, Rick Rubin, actually sparked the inspiration for this song. He often visited Anthony Kiedis, the lead singer for the band (in photo at right, in the blue jacket). Flipping through the pages of Anthony's notebook, he found a poem he had written called "Under the Bridge".

Touched by the lyrics, he suggested that Anthony show it to the rest of the band. Kiedis wasn't sure. In fact, he thought it was a bit too emotional for the band's punk rock style. Anthony sang the song to his band members. The other members then got up and started finding the rhythm and chords to match his song.

Lyrical analysis

Anthony Kiedis explained that he wrote this song's lyrics because he felt alienated from the rest of the band. He was sober for about three years, and this had distanced him from the other bandmates - bandmates John Frusciante and Flea often smoked marijuana together, ignoring Kiedis. He felt a deep sense of loss as well as his former relationship with British actress Ione Skye. His feelings of alienation led him to believing that his only companion was the city of Los Angeles.

"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." - Anthony Kiedis

"Sometimes I feel
Like I dont have a partner
Sometimes I feel
Like my only friend
Is the city I live in
The city of angels
Lonely as I am
Together we cry

I drive on her streets
cause shes my companion
I walk through her hills
cause she knows who I am
She sees my good deeds
And she kisses me windy
I never worry
Now that is a lie

"The loneliness that I was feeling triggered memories of my time with Ione and how I'd had this beautiful angel of a girl who was willing to give me all of her love, and instead of embracing that, I was downtown with gangsters shooting speedballs under a bridge". - Anthony Kiedis

Under The Bridge

The "bridge" Kiedis is talking about in this song was a gang territory which was located underneath a bridge. Kiedis had gone there to buy drugs, and pretended that a sister of one of the gang members was his fiancée in order to enter. Kiedis considers this experience as one of the worst moments in his life - illustrating how low he was willing to sink in order to feed his drug addiction.

"Under the bridge downtown
Is where I drew some blood
Under the bridge downtown
I could not get enough
Under the bridge downtown
Forgot about my love
Under the bridge downtown
I gave my life away"


Musical analysis
"My brain interpreted it as being a really sad song so I thought if the lyrics are really sad like that I should write some chords that are happier." - Frusciante
Guitarist John Frusciante also said that he was inspired by the chord melody and introduction from David Bowie's song "Andy Warhol".

Impact on Music History
This song received critical acclaim and was loved by the band's fans as well. The music video for the song was directed by famous American film director Gus San Vant, which you can see here.

"Under the Bridge" has been covered by many artists. Some notable ones include:

  • Rapper Mos Def used some of the verses in his song Brooklyn.
  • British pop girl group All Saints sang a modified version (Kiedis was displeased with this cover because it had lost all personal significance)

References/Images
Kidoryo
Kufo
Allposters
Flea777
Leungs online
Wikipedia


  1. oLahav saidTue, 28 Oct 2008 14:35:24 -0000 ( Link )

    Powerful. Under the Bridge is another 90’s classic… I think another one of its major impacts was to redefine the RHCP style- it was their first mellow, non-funk/punk song. Afterwards came more recent albums that contained a lot of great songs in a more similar style (My Friends, Breaking the Girl, Californication, and the list goes on and on), but Under the Bridge sort of started it all.

    Anyway, what’s next? I call for All Star, another major 90’s anthem. Though you’re always welcome to go back to the 70’s and 80’s… Stairway to Heaven is waiting for a lesson!

    Sweet lesson series, really.

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  2. lucyinthesky saidTue, 28 Oct 2008 14:44:29 -0000 ( Link )

    Thanks Oren, I really appreciate it! I love RHCP, I think it’s because their style is so distinct and their work seems genuine.

    I can’t say those are my favourite songs…but I’ll give it a shot.

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  3. hcraig saidMon, 17 Nov 2008 16:28:44 -0000 ( Link )

    Oren, do you mean All Star – as in Smashmouth?

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  4. boyd08 saidThu, 27 Nov 2008 00:44:35 -0000 ( Link )

    Great song, great band. How about some Sublime? That’s an interesting story and, in my opinion, the most underrated band of the 90’s.

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  5. kevingraham1 saidThu, 27 Nov 2008 16:07:06 -0000 ( Link )

    Hello all, great suggestions and comments here.
    Let’s jump across the pond and look at Some British influenced anthems too maybe.
    Oasis, Travis, Blur.
    Some great songs and different points of view as well.

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  6. lucyinthesky saidFri, 28 Nov 2008 14:23:25 -0000 ( Link )

    That’s actually an awesome idea…it would be great to see what your own personal interpretation of a song is. We should start up a community on “song analysis” or something like that.

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