Red Hot Chili Peppers – "I Could Have Lied" – Song Discussion

The early 90’s were a special time for music. After the whirlwind 80’s where synth pop dominated, we started a new decade with more diversity and artists who refused to fit into a pre-determined mold. Every type of genre was evolving and there was truly something for everybody. So many aspects of this time can still be heard in music even today, solidifying its presence in all music history books. And the Red Hot Chili Peppers fit perfectly into that equation. With their fifth studio album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, the band themselves made a change from their previous work and put together a project that continues to resonate with modern music, even thirty years after its initial inception. There are plenty of songs on this record that are exceptional; with so many exciting, upbeat moments it’s difficult to choose which is worth talking about more than the rest. But ironically enough, the one I wanted to talk about most is one that is quiet enough that you might miss if you don’t listen closely enough.

“I Could Have Lied” opens up with the calmest acoustic guitar intro and vocals the record has to offer. If you’re distracted, you won’t hear the first twenty seconds. The acoustic guitar riff is perfect on it’s own but once the drums and bass drop in, the track becomes even more charismatic. The first verse and chorus compliment each other in tone and instrument layering, and just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, the first guitar solo comes in so naturally, never asking for too much of your time. After an absolutely stunning forty seconds, we’re introduced to the second verse and chorus again, with the song fading out with a similar rendition of the first guitar solo. Just as the music portion doesn’t ask for too much of your attention, the lyrical component doesn’t either. This is a song written about lead singer Anthony Kiedis’ failed relationship with Sinead O’Connor and although it’s clear about the message it’s trying to convey, it’s simply written to refrain from becoming overbearing and over emotional. It doesn’t go into great detail but manages to say enough to allow the music to really speak for itself. It’s genuine in the sense that instead of trying to cover up hurt feelings, they’re expressed in an honest and straightforward manner. “I could never change just what I feel / My face would never show what is not real” and “I could have lied, I’m such a fool / My eyes could never never never keep their cool” are some standout lines on here and demonstrate the ability of the narrator to be transparent in such a difficult situation.

The authenticity and effort put forth to make this a worthwhile track is undeniable. The structure of the song is immaculate and perfectly balanced, were the meaning behind it coincides with the tone and instrumental, and no part of it is too heavy or overworked. And when I say “balanced”, I mean that quite literally; the track is built up of only two verses, two choruses and two guitar solos. It’s simply beautiful to hear and provides a slower moment for listeners, but also accentuates the bands ability to diversify their sound. This is song that you can listen to on repeat or one that you can revisit after long hiatus from it and still feel excited about the entire thing. It’s a song that defined a specific period in music and continued to define an entire genre for years to come.

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