Songs About Los Angeles: “Under The Bridge” By Red Hot Chili Peppers

Blood Sugar Sex Magik
Blood Sugar Sex Magik

Under The Bridge was released in March of 1992 as the second single from the album Blood Sugar Sex Magik and was one of the RHCP’s first ballads. It’s become one of those songs you hear often on pop LA radio stations, especially if it’s a “90’s Rewind Weekend!” (or some such.) I had heard it, but didn’t really hear it until about 1996/1997. Then it got under my skin.

While I can’t relate to all of what Anthony Kiedis was writing about, I could certainly relate the most of it. Who hasn’t felt incredibly lonely in this city (or any city for that matter) even when you are surrounded by good friends and a decent job? This song takes me back to that strange in-between time in Los Angeles, the time between what I thought would happen in my life to what was going to happen in my life.

I had already been through my “I hate LA, I’m the FUCK out of here!!” phase, moved away and had come back in 1993. By 96/97 I was in a strange spot, recently broken up with a guy I thought I would marry, but enough time had passed that I was getting used to single life again. My movie career was going great guns, but there was a gnawing feeling in my gut that the particular job I had wasn’t making me happy. I had just turned 30 and was looking forward to being in my 30’s, while everyone told me I should be freaking out. I really liked and respected Los Angeles, though hadn’t quite found the love for it. Things were missing, but what were they? No one I knew seemed to be feeling the same way.

Then I started hearing this song.

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 used to cry while driving. A lot. On the way to work, on the way home. So unhappy but so unclear as to why, exactly. I had a hard time reaching out to people, but LA knew how to comfort me. One night I was driving home, crying, lonely, confused about so much. I stopped at a red on Santa Monica Blvd, sobbing. I heard yelling through my closed windows and looked over to a grunge dude, in ski cap, driving something like a Dodge Dart, waving and yelling at me. “You’re going to be okay! Everything is going to be fine! You will be alright!” He was smiling and giving me the OK sign. The light turned green and he disappeared into the night. This is the City of Angels, right?

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

I’m quite square, as previously mentioned. I have had a very blessed life, never got into much trouble, never did much in the way of drugs or drinking, always said please and thank you, always was the over-achiever. People would kill for all I had (and have). But things had to change. I might have been confused about the details and it took a few years to change, but I was sure about one thing: Los Angeles was the right place. LA is my home. She sees my good deeds and she kisses me windy.

Listen to song on Last.FM.

Watch the video – directed by Gus Van Sant – here.

4 Replies to “Songs About Los Angeles: “Under The Bridge” By Red Hot Chili Peppers”

  1. Wow. It’s not the songs, it’s the stories that you tell. I could take or leave the RHCP, but your story! It’s so strange: the city of so many murders and so much ugliness, and once in a while, a friend will walk up to you and say, “There I was, crying on the Promenade and this old lady came over, sat me down and put my head on her shoulder until I could breathe.”
    “And then what?”
    “And then she got up, walked away and I never saw her again.”
    And it happens every day.

  2. Another story that is a true testament to among the a-holes, that I contend you find EVERYWHERE, there are really caring, kind, decent people here. I’m astounded when people say everyone in L.A. is so cold and unfriendly. In my 14+ years here, I’ve experienced more of the opposite. We even have some of the friendliest beggars of any other city I’ve visited. Even if you don’t give money, most of them have a kind word and thank you anyway.

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