5.11.2006

Is Flea A Christian?

Your first reaction to me telling you that the Red Hot Chili Peppers have released a new CD would probably be tepid at best. I mean, aren't these the guys, on the "Give It Away" video, running around the desert being, well, ridiculous? Or you may remember one of their early classics, "Real Men Don't Kill Coyotes," and wonder why, as an almost 40, father of two, I would be listening to a band that at one time resembled the infamous Surf Punks--nothing but a cartoon party band.

Yes, I will admit that the first decade of the Red Hots was intellectually, and some could argue, creatively, void of a heartbeat. However, that was before the addition of John Frusciante--musical boy-wonder--as their guitarist in the early 90's. His first CD with the group was only a glimmer of his possibilities; and his ability to be able to mesh his guitar style with a funkadelic bass-playing guru like Flea was, to some (me included) one star away from true brilliance. Unfortunately, Frusciante exited the band via heroin addiction, and the Red Hots were left on hold.

Their next CD, One Hot Minute, is hardly worth mentioning. However, upon the return of a now-clean Frusciante five years later, the band continued where it left off with two subsequent relases that were very diverse but very awesome all the same.

Now, just two days ago, those of us who have hung around Flea and the gang through thick and thin have been treated to what can only be described as the most important rock and roll collection (and I do mean a collection-28 songs) since Pearl Jam's Ten.

I strongly encourage you to go out and get Stadium Arcadium ASAP. No matter what your musical taste or IQ there is something here for you. While I would never even attempt to argue that the Chili Peppers are, or even remotely resemble, a Christian band, they do--after weathering through 20 years of member's deaths, numerous stays in rehab, internal conflict, and generally not being taken seriously--offer some faint wisdom from a real-world perspective. Although the music itself is why you should buy this CD. You should not buy this CD if you are looking for it to offer any solid advice for you to base any life decisions on!

And don't judge a CD by the first single. While Dani California will certainly be your first look, I challenge you to dig deeper, although the video for this song, the continuation of a character created by lead singer Anthony Kiedis, is extremely creative, as is Frusciate's Hendrix-inspired giutar solo.

One of the best tracks to start with here is "Slow Cheetah," an observation of sin being akin to a creeping killer, and the reality that, on the surface, sin can feel good, despite the obvious consequences. Again, please note the guitar work here. Defintely worth a listen.

Speaking of listening, even if you don't understand the lyrics for "Torture Me," it is OK, but at least sit and enjoy the Flea bass intro and his trumpet solo, punctuated by some unbridled excitement shown by Kiedis. The lead singer is back into his 80's rapping/singing best on "Warlocks," while the band takes a nostalgic look back at that era with "Strip My Mind."

I did promise a little substance, right? Check out "Stadium Arcadium" for a look at how to keep your head up in the face of public criticism, and "Snow (Hey Oh)" to see someone grope with the reality that we can't live in this life with no spiritual direction. There is also the struggle to be a normal and grounded person in "Wet Sand," telling us that "you don't form in the wet sand/you don't form at all."

In "Tell Me Baby," we are reminded that "life could be a little sweet/but life could be a little sh****." How true. "Hard to Concentrate" is an introspective look at marriage and the vows of marriage, and "If" is a neat little ballad worth some interpretation. Like many of the tunes, this one has biblical references. In fact, as I listened to all of these songs, I was surprised that, interspursed among some of the familiar and surface themes of drug abuse and relationships found in all of the Red Hots CDs, there are a lot of blatant religious overtones that could be seen as evident of some self-softening and soul-searching by Kiedis, who authors most of the lyrics.

Unfortunately, there are some tunes that seems promising on the surface (i.e. "We Believe") and sure sound good, but fail to make any statement at all. One of these is "Death of a Martian," which is truly a masterpiece, but only musically. Lyrically, it leaves us wondering what "bear paws" have to do with someone's garage, and what the heck is "rascal power" anyway??

So, the question remains. Is Flea a Christian? He may not be, but he plays a vital role in making Stadium Arcadium a CD worthy of anyone's collection, regardless of your musical taste. The REAL question is why can't we find anything that compares to the complexity and texture of this CD in the contemporary Christian music genre? I wish someone would tell me why the John Frusciantes and Brian Wilsons of the world are confined to the secular music scene. What Christian music needs, and what would certainly attract non-believers, is, unfortunately, limited to bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who, through true honesty and unhindered creativity, bring us music worth considering and worth listening to.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There is a spiritual path in my life, I follow a long time. This is an important part of who I am…I’m not religious at all. But I believe in divine power."
-Flea

"I don't go for sects and denominations."
-Kiedis

John Frusciante is spiritual with his music.


The song 'If' is more about sex than anything else in my opinion.

Indicating that they are a Christian band in any way is wrong.

Sat Jan 11, 12:43:00 PM 2014  
Blogger Retro Walkthroughs said...

You're wrong. The Peppers have been through a lot and it seems that it made them strong in faith. Flea once wrote on his twitter: "I love god I don’t trust religion."

Also: see the end of this video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPYeM1_jx0U. They are praying before the gig. Frusciante and Kiedis are saying their thanks to Lord and Flea says: "Amen". I was a little bit shocked but I think I respect them even more...They were always going up the stream, not with the current and it seems it's the same with faith. So great band!

Thu Sep 24, 12:06:00 AM 2015  
Blogger cody bounds said...

The song Death of a Martian is about the death if fleas dog "Martian". The do was a big loving dog who died during the recording of Stadium Arcadium. The song will make a lot more sense after knowing this.

Mon Mar 26, 09:23:00 AM 2018  

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