Retiring from a lifestyle of debauchery was no easy task for the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the day. The path of sobriety can be tricky when immersed in a culture of sex-drugs-rock-and-roll and often celebrated for it. The shame and judgement that often accompanies relapsing can be mortifying and is not exactly always handled gently. That said, is tough love really the answer when supporting a loved one struggling with addiction? Lead vocalist Anthony Kiedis states their 2002 song “Don’t Forget Me” reminds us that “universal love” or energy unconditionally embraces everyone regardless of their flaws.
This “universal love” is different for everyone. For some it’s God. For others, that ride-or-die person or child(ren) there for them when they’re trying to get sober or come out of a bad place. Kiedis describes that thing or person that never judges and keeps you going every day, as a higher or deeper love that “knows the way.”. While this may sound cliché, the band is no stranger to the harsh realities of addiction.
Founder and original guitarist Hillel Slovak overdosed and died in 1998 when he was only 26. Kiedis’ father was a drug dealer, and in his autobiography, Scar Tissue, he shares his struggles with drugs. He details his struggle with cocaine and heroin addiction, including his cycles between sobriety and relapsing. Bassist Flea has been sober since 1993, having previously struggled on and off with heroin.
What Don’t Forget Me offers to anyone struggling with addiction or hard times is a bit of hope, some rockstar wisdom, and above all, some of that good old fashion ‘love-you-homey’ even in times when no one else will.
“I’m the rainbow in your jail cell
All the memories of everything you’ve ever smelled
Not alone, I’ll be there, tell me when you want to go.“
Listen to the full track on Spotify here.
Feature Image: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons.