|Under the Bridge|
Single by Red Hot Chili Peppers
from the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik
"Search and Destroy"
"Soul to Squeeze"
"Fela's Cock" (1994 re-issue)
Released March 10, 1992
Format CD, cassette, 7", 12"
Recorded April–June 1991 at The Mansion in Los Angeles, California
Genre Alternative rock
Label Warner Bros.
Writer(s) Flea, Frusciante, Kiedis, Smith
Producer Rick Rubin
"Under the Bridge" is a song by American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on March 10, 1992 as the second single from the group's fifth studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis wrote the lyrics to express a feeling of loneliness and despondency, and to reflect on narcotics and their impact on his life.
Kiedis initially did not feel "Under the Bridge" would fit into the Chili Peppers' repertoire and was reluctant to show it to his band mates until producer Rick Rubin implored him to do so. The rest of the band was receptive to the lyrics and wrote the music.
The song became a critical and commercial success, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and later certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The single's success was widened with the release of its accompanying video, which was frequently played on music television channels. It won the "Viewer's Choice Award" and "Breakthrough Video" at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards.
Music and composition
"Under the Bridge" is performed in 4/4 time in the key of D major, shifting to the key of E major after the introduction of the first verse. The song marks an important shift in style for Kiedis, who had spent most of his career singing rapidly due to his limited ability to reach high notes.
The song begins with Frusciante playing a moderately slow intro that the guitarist said drew heavily on the 1971 David Bowie song "Andy Warhol". As Kiedis begins to sing, the guitar playing becomes more rapid until it reaches an E major seventh chord that halts the song; the silence is broken by Chad Smith's closed hi-hat and wood block struck at a moderately fast tempo.
Frusciante borrowed the E major seventh chord technique from British guitarist Marc Bolan of the glam rock band T. Rex, who initially wrote it in the song "Rip Off" from the group's 1971 album Electric Warrior; Frusciante lightheartedly noted that "I ripped off a song called 'Rip Off'. I thought that was interesting."
The song continues with another verse and subsequent chorus, when the bass finally enters. After the next verse an E major seven chord again marks a break before the start of the chorus. The second chorus transitions into a different verse, where Chad Smith begins to play the drums, and Kiedis sings "Take me all the way/Yeah/Yeah-e-yeah/Oh no, no". A choir, whose presence was added to make the ending sound more epic, sings "Under the bridge downtown", in which Kiedis sings "Is where I drew some blood/I could not get enough/Forgot about my love/I gave my life away" in between.
As the choir, Kiedis and drums stop, Frusciante and Flea play the outro until the song ends.
"Under the Bridge" allowed the Red Hot Chili Peppers to enter the mainstream. David Fricke of Rolling Stone said the song "unexpectedly drop-kicked the band into the Top 10",while Philip Booth of The Tampa Tribune commented that it was a "pretty, undulating, [and] by-now omnipresent single." Its success led in part to the departure of guitarist John Frusciante, who preferred the band to remain underground. The song has become an inspiration to other artists, and remains a seminal component of the alternative rock movement of the early- and mid-1990s.