12 July 2011

Everything I Know I Learned from the Red Hot Chili Peppers

I doubt that I was terribly unique as an American teenage male to start buying up as many RHCP albums as I could find by the time I was old enough to cuss. Nor do I think that music has magical powers to do things like start revolutions or heal a troubled heart. However, I do think music can be particularly good at getting in your head and pumping life into all the little ideas you have ever pondered on while waiting for encouragement to act on.
It is through music that we regularly find validity for things we are unsure about. Not only do break-up songs, love songs, protest songs, and party songs give us inspiration to proceed on the seeds of our own ideas and let us know others have been there, they also give us a melody to whistle while we work. Weather we are smashing headlights on a cheating boyfriends truck or taking a midnight train going anywhere, music shows us that we won't be doing it alone. I owe so much of my inner companionship to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The band's forthcoming album slated for the end of August started me on a path of reverie because for the first time in my freethinking life the Red Hot Chili Peppers are in the studio without John Frusciante. Yes, I was alive for Dave Navarro's filling in while Frusciante took a brief heroin hiatus from 92-97 but because of well meaning parents and those pesky obscenity labels I was not able to get my hands on any album prior to Californication until I got better at The Internet (more on that later) and thus had a Frusciante-centric Chili Peppers experience. When the rumors were confirmed to me that John Frusciante had left the Peppers to make room for, quintessentially, his understudy Josh Klinghoffer I felt as though I had been dumped by my first girlfriend...again. 

When asked why I took it so hard the only conclusion I could reach was that I basically owed my life to those four dudes from L.A. Not in a tragically highschool way of having some emotional instability that I self medicated with their music, but rather, somewhat more maturely, that I owe a lot of the vivacious growth in my personality to interests and ideas that I believe directly correlate to and were cultivated by their music. 

Probably most illustrative of this is that I started playing bass at age 13 in the summer of 2002. The band had just released their first album of my pubescent life, By The Way. I remembered awesome things from the late nineties such as the video game music video and refrain of 1999's title track, "Californication." And Otherside's psychedelic, Man Ray-influenced video played well to my overactive imagination. I would eventually get back to these pre-teen memories as my affection and obession grew but in the summer of 2002 I memorized and still know by heart almost all the basslines from By the Way. Flea played bass the way it was meant to be played: out loud, more than just root notes and rhythm and with blue hair. 

From left to right below: Flea on the By The Way Tour in 2003, Dave Samms and myself in Emporia, KS 2008, Nick Probst and myself in Wichita, KS 2008

So begins this series of posts about one man's coming of age thanks to one band's music.

1 comment:

  1. Naked with blue hair. Inspiration at its finest.

    Really, though, this is a great post series. Music does indeed have a way of getting inside us, of pushing our emotions and ideas in one direction or another. I remember the first time I heard--and then became addicted to--a band that was not on the Top 40 list. It blew my 11-year-old mind. That little experience was crucial, and I believe that a big part of who I am today can be traced back to those four short minutes.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    Also, X'ed hands--what a sign of the times.