In September 1991, as the Soviet Union was collapsing and the world was experiencing dramatic changes, a Los Angels based funk-rock band called Red Hot Chili Peppers released their fifth music album called “Blood Sugar Sex Magik” that also included the song Give away now. At this moment, the song has over 70 million views via the Red Hot Chili Peppers Youtube channel. So what is the story behind the song, and how was the song perceived during the early 1990s?
One interesting thing is that the song was based on situations of heroin abuse among the group’s members because the song is titled after its most prevalent lyrical phrase “give it away”, taken from singer Anthony Kiedis experience with his former girlfriend punk rock singer Nina Hagen in a situation when they were talking and handling clothes during the early 1980s. Another aspect is about altruism and opposition to selfishness that Kiedis experienced from his former partner.
According to RHCP’s official history, guitarist John Frusciante and bassist Flea wrote much of “Give It Away” during jam sessions in the early 1990s. The song was recorded during spring and summer of 1991 at The Mansion studio in Los Angeles. The song received several recognitions, including a Grammy Award for the Best Hard Rock Performance With Vocals in 1992.
The video was made by famous music director Stéphane Sednaoui who decided to make it black and white. It is possible to say that the video itself contributed to the song’s song’s popularity due to its design with slideshows, movements, and gestures by band members, glitter and glance, and being shot in a desert area. The price of the video was around 140 000 USD. Sweden-based Rockbladet wrote that the Give it away video was one of the coolest ones in rock-and-roll history.
Globally seen, the song was not among the most popular ones as in the genre of rock, rap-rock, funk-rock, and similar. However, the song did become one of RHCP’s most popular ones and was often played on MTV. An additional fun fact is that the famous reggae musician Bob Marley is mentioned in the song.
On this standout track from Blood Sugar Sex Magik, RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis spits bravado like an MC, while guitarist John Frusciante squeals and shreds right behind him. Flea’s infectious bass line and Chad Smith’s pounding groove solidifies the band’s breakthrough hit.