“Soul to Squeeze” W6
The decision to write about a song was easy for me. Music is very important to my life and has helped me with a lot of struggles. Of course, I was drawn to my favorite band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Picking the song that I would be critiquing was difficult, considering that I love all of their music, so I began listening to their music and really evaluating the lyrics and what I believed the meaning of the songs to be. After a few run-throughs of around ten songs, I decided to go with “Soul to Squeeze.” What has intrigued me about this song the most is the contrast between the lyrics and the musical style.
The lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Anthony Kiedis, is the mind behind the lyrics of the band’s songs. In turn, they are often reflective of his personal experiences. Since he was 13, Kiedis had been a user of a variety of drugs, from marijuana, to qualudes, to cocaine. He later struggled with heroin and cocaine addiction. Many of his friends and girlfirends also struggled with drug use. In result, addiction, depression, and bad relationships have often been the influence present in much of his music. As expected, this has formed the lyrics of the songs to be very introspective and emotional, frequently highlighting the idea of a mental struggle with one’s self. This lyrical style is present in many of their songs, especially some of their most popular.
In contrast to the dark lyrics of many of their songs, the musical style is generally quite the opposite. Claiming a huge funk and punk influence, the music of the Chili Peppers was nothing shy of groundbreaking. They embraced upbeat tempos and complexity, with an an emphasis on rhythm. Many of their songs have extremely rhythmic introductions, with strong grooves emphasized by a melodic guitar and/or a solid drum base. Not only is this a characteristic of the band’s specific style, it sets the pace for the rest of the upcoming song. Along with these iconic intros, Kiedis wanted his band mates to have the chance to showcase their instrument and talents, so instrumentals and solos are written into every song.
In the particular song I am writing about, Kiedis focuses strongly on his own mental health. After a bright, up-tempo introduction, the first two lines clearly introduce this. He starts by singing “I’ve got a bad disease/up from my brain is where I bleed,” highlighting the fact that he is in fact mentally and emotionally ill. This theme continues throughout the lyrics, with lines such as “When I find my peace of mind” and “Today loves smile on me/It took away my pain, said please.” I believe Kiedis fully reveals the perspective of his piece in the third verse to the bridge, where he writes “Oh make my days a breeze/And take away my self destruction.” This point of the song solidifies the fact that he has come to terms with his issues, and wants there to be someone who can help him. This is followed by a bridge with the lines “It’s bitter baby/And it’s very sweet,” another example of contrast in the piece, proving his internal conflict over whether or not he really wants to move forward in life, away from the difficulties he is facing at the time. Despite the difficulties, it is what he knows and While the subject matter of his lyrics are very introspective and heavy, the trademark contrast between this and the musical style used is utilized. “Soul to Squeeze” is a prime example of this. It is a very catchy, sing-along type song, which does not reflect the substance of the actual meaning. The title of the song itself is contradicting. The pairing of a nonphysical attribute of a person with a physical action resonates with the image of someone looking for relief beyond surface level, created by the lyrics.
While I am already familiar with the reasons that Kiedis wrote these songs, I am intrigued by the perspective they put mental health in, and how this is done through the style of the music. “Soul to Squeeze” showcases the styles of the Red Hot Chili Peppers very well, making it a good choice for my essay.