by Sean Smith
On Sunday we learned that Academy-Award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died of an apparent drug overdose at the age of 46. Later that night, the eyes of the nation turned to Super Bowl XLVIII, where during the halftime show the Red Hot Chili Peppers performed alongside Bruno Mars and provided viewers with the entertainment that the lopsided game between the Seahawks and Broncos failed to provide.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers performed their 1991 hit “Give It Away” during their halftime performance. But with the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing, I couldn’t help but to think that another of their songs may have been more appropriate. The members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are all too familiar with drug abuse. In 1988, RHCP guitarist Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose. The guitarist that took over for Slovak, John Frusciante, also struggled with drug addiction and even left the band for a number of years in the 1990’s. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis has also publicly struggled with his addiction to drugs. Kiedis has written a number of songs that delve into the subject. He penned “Under The Bridge” released in 1991 which reflects on the singer’s damaged relationships due to his drug use. He also wrote “Scar Tissue” released in 1999 which talks about his drug use amongst other topics. While either of those songs would have been more fitting on Sunday night, their song “Otherside” released in 2000 would have been my personal choice.
“Otherside” was the third single from RHCP’s 1999 album Californication and reached the #14 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song delves into the dark reality of drug abuse and the struggle that former addicts have in maintaining their sobriety. This message is one that the late Philip Seymour Hoffman could identify with. By many accounts, the famed actor was reportedly sober for over twenty years before relapsing back into drug abuse last year.
Drug abuse is a problem that many Americans struggle with on a daily basis. According to data released by the National Survey on Drug Usage and Health released in 2012, just under 10 percent of the American population admitted to recently using illicit drugs. Recent Grammy award winner Macklemore also could identify with the meaning behind “Otherside.” On his 2010 mixtape VS. Redux EP, he remixed the song “Otherside” to give light to his experience with drug addiction. A subject that Macklemore continued to speak on in several of the songs featured on his Grammy winning album The Heist.
In light of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death and the Red Hot Chili Peppers performance at the Super Bowl, this week’s edition of #ThrowbackThursday remembers “Otherside” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And may we also remember all the people who continue to battle the horrible disease that is drug addiction. May songs like this give those of us who may be struggling with addiction the strength to achieve sobriety.
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Warner Bros Records