30 songs in 30 days: #28 – “The Righteous and the Wicked” (The Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Day 28: A song that makes you feel quilty

Often when I start listening to a song that’s new to me, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the meaning of the lyrics. I focus initially on the instrumentation, the rhythm of the vocals, how the various components blend together and play off each other. The lyrics might not strike me until long after the song has entered my library. Then, a random line will suddenly prick my ears, and the song might very well take on a whole new meaning for me as I begin to pay attention to the lyrics. Such was the case with today’s entry, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “The Righteous and the Wicked.” When I first started listening to the album it’s from, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the song felt like filler to me. It had a decent groove but nothing terribly memorable, compared to the great tracks on the album. It didn’t hold my attention for a long time, until I caught the line “The killing fist of the human beast.” Suddenly intrigued, I read the lyrics and discovered the song is a denouncement of the human race’s treatment of itself and its home planet. Antiwar to the extreme of wishing for a “global abortion” for “Mother Earth,” the song suddenly meant so much more and rose in the ranks of my Chili Peppers music collection. No longer filler, the song makes me feel a little guilty for being a member of a species constantly killing itself and its planet, or at least for not being more involved in efforts to curb our self-abuse and matricide. Maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic about a deep cut from a rock band, but isn’t art supposed to stimulate thoughtfulness and introspection?

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