top of page
Under The Bridge
Song

Under The Bridge

Red Hot Chili Peppers
Album:
Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Song Meaning and Background of Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers


A touching ballad, “Under the Bridge” was a major hit for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, changing their image in front of the public and fans.


The song was an autobiographical confession from frontman Anthony Kiedis, who counted an experience with some gang members under an actual Los Angeles bridge as a low point of his drug addiction.


Kiedis started writing it while feeling lonely after a band rehearsal, following the death of the Chili’s guitarist Hillel Slovak. “L.A. — the hills, the buildings, the people in it as a whole — that seemed to be looking out for me more than any human being,” he told Rolling Stone in 1992.


"Under the Bridge" is a song by American rockband Red Hot Chili Peppers and the eleventh track on their fifth studio album, Blood Sugar Sex Magik in 1991.


Vocalist Anthony Kiedis wrote the lyrics while reflecting on loneliness and the struggles of being clean from drugs, and almost did not share it with the band.


During the production of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, producer Rick Rubin regularly visited singer Anthony Kiedis to review his new material.


He found a poem titled "Under the Bridge" in Kiedis's notebook and took an interest in the poignant lyrics. Rubin suggested that Kiedis show it to the rest of the band: "I thought it was beautiful. I said, 'We've got to do this.'"


Kiedis was reluctant, as he felt the poem was too emotional and did not fit the Chili Peppers' style.

After singing the poem to guitarist John Frusciante and drummer Chad Smith, they "got up and walked over to their instruments and started finding the beat and guitar chords to match it".


Frusciante chose the chords to balance the dark lyrics, saying "I thought if the lyrics are really sad like that I should write some chords that are happier".


Frusciante and Kiedis worked on the song for several days. It was one of the few tracks completed prior to the band moving into the Mansion, where they recorded the album.


After the song was recorded, Rubin felt the grand ending would benefit from a large group of singers.


Frusciante invited his mother, Gail, and her friend, both of whom sang in a choir, to perform.

Kiedis wrote many of the lyrics during a period of depression. After struggling with heroin and cocaine addiction, he had been sober for roughly three years.


He felt that this had distanced him from his bandmates, who continued to use marijuana together; Kiedis felt that Frusciante was "no longer in [his] world".


Driving home after rehearsal in April 1991, Kiedis thought of his addiction during his relationship with his former girlfriend Ione Skye.


He wrote in his 2004 memoir Scar Tissue: "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 fucking gangsters shooting speedballs under a bridge."

Kiedis's alienation led him to feel that the city of Los Angeles was his only companion, and that "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".


The lines "Sometimes I feel like / My only friend / Is the city I live in / The City of Angels / Lonely as I am / Together we cry" link Kiedis's isolation and sense of susceptibility. However, he believed that his life was better without drugs.


His optimism produced the chorus: "I don't ever want to feel / Like I did that day / Take me to the place I love", "the place" meaning his bandmates, friends, and family.


One verse discusses the harsh effects of drugs, their role in destroying Kiedis's relationships, and their impact on his happiness.


The verse recounts his experience entering gang territory under a bridge to purchase drugs; to gain access, Kiedis pretended that a sister of one of the gang members was his fiancée.


Kiedis wrote that this was one of his lowest moments, as it demonstrated the level to which he was willing to sink for his addiction.


Kiedis has refused to reveal the location of the bridge, saying only that it is in downtown Los Angeles.

The song was a commercial success and the band's highest-charting single, peaking at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and certified platinum. It was also a success in other countries, mostly charting within the top 10.


"Under the Bridge" helped the Red Hot Chili Peppers enter the mainstream. David Fricke of Rolling Stone said that the song "unexpectedly drop-kicked the band into the Top 10".


Lyrics of Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers


Sometimes I feel like I don't 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 she's my companion

I walk through her hills 'cause she knows who I am

She sees my good deeds and she kisses me windy

Well, I never worry, now that is a lie

 

I don't ever wanna feel like I did that day

But take me to the place I love, take me all the way

I don't ever wanna feel like I did that day

But take me to the place I love take me all the way

 

Yeah, yeah yeah

 

It's hard to believe that there's nobody out there

It's hard to believe that I'm all alone

At least I have her love

The city, she loves me

Lonely as I am together we cry

 

I don't ever wanna feel like I did that day

But take me to the place I love take me all the way

I don't ever wanna feel like I did that day

But take me to the place I love take me all the way

 

Yeah, yeah yeah

Oh, no, no, no, yeah yeah

Love me, I say, yeah yeah

One time

 

(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, yeah

Yeah yeah

Oh, no, no no no, yeah yeah

Oh no, I said oh, yeah yeah

Here I stay

Release Date

1992

Songwriter/s

Anthony Kiedis, Flea, John Frusciante, Chad Smith

Producer/s

Rick Rubin

Label/s

Warner Bros

Other Songs

bottom of page