Songs For Sound Minds #10 – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Songs for Sound Minds are our picks of the best music that uplifts, inspires and boosts mental health. Songs written as an anthem to overcoming the storms of life. The songs that give hope in those times when we are struggling. The song that propelled Red Hot Chili Peppers to superstardom is a poignant story of broken relationships and finding the strength to overcome addiction.

Under the Bridge – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Wasting love for time ‘under the bridge’

Under the Bridge originally started out as a poem written by Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman, Anthony Kiedis. Having maintained his sobriety for nearly three years, Kiedis was feeling isolated and alienated from his bandmates. Their continued drug use drove a wedge between the band and left Kiedis feeling like he was in a different world to them.

Recalling his time struggling with heroin and cocaine addiction to Rolling Stone magazine, Kiedis explained how he was moved to write his relationship with former girlfriend Ione Skye that was wrecked by drugs:

“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.”

My only friend

Feeling abandoned by his ‘family’ of bandmates, Kiedis came to believe that the city of Los Angeles was in effect his only companion:

“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.”

Despite the distance between him and his bandmates, Kiedis remained convinced that life without drugs was far better to when they dominated his every thought.

A million percent better

“I started thinking about my life and how sad it was right now. But no matter how sad or lonely I got, things were a million percent better than they were two years earlier when I was using drugs all the time.”

Lyrics throughout the song recount Kiedis’ experiences horrific experiences of drug addiction and its role in destroying many of his relationships. The verse of Under the Bridge in particular illustrates the lengths he was prepared to go to feed his habit:

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

Although it deals with a very difficult subject – addiction and wrecked lives – Under the Bridge is a song of redemption. Redemption from destructive relationships to instead turn towards better, healthier ones.

I don’t ever want to feel
Like I did that day
Take me to the place I love
Take me all the way

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