Do you know how some songs perfectly encapsulate a time in your life? These are songs that connect with you at the perfect time, that seem to illustrate who you are and what your life is at that time. These are songs that will stay with you forever, tied and entwined with the memory of who you were at that point in your life.
And then there are perfect songs that come along too late. Under the Bridge by the Chili Peppers has always been such a song for me. It would have been one of those life-defining songs for a certain period in my life when I was very young and on my own for the first time, a smalltown teen struggling alone in Los Angeles. But Blood Sugar Sex Majik came out years too late, and so I feel this strange nostalgia when I hear it.
When I was first on my own, straight after high school when I was trying to run away from everything that I had grown up with, everything smalltown and middle America and ordinary, I went to Los Angeles. No money, no one I knew, no safety net. I lived in Hermosa Beach, in a small, shabby hotel with a bunch of other kids, assorted pier rats and scammers and addicts. It didn’t matter – I was living in Los Angeles, on the beach, hanging out in Hollywood, and it seemed as though the very air vibrated with possibilities…always just around the corner, in the next encounter, tomorrow. I was living off Taco Bell at the time, as their regular tacos were something like thirty cents, and (if you stretched a point) contained all the basic food groups. I looked for work and went on acting auditions and hung out at the beach and somehow managed to not get myself into any really serious trouble. But I was very, very alone.
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 loved LA with a passion. This love affair lasted for quite a long time, until finally it drowned under all the weight of the increasing gang problems, the smog and the traffic…but at that time it was a shining place and I loved it. I loved who I was there.
Uunder the Bridge, to me, seems to perfectly mirror how I felt then. But it didn’t come out until, what, ’91 or ’92, and by then I was married, with a daughter, involved in athletics and my career and I was a different person. I loved the song, but it didn’t reach me in the place that it would have years before.
Sometimes it makes me sad.