Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way
NME.COM feature on Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.
Release date: 20 March 2006
Tracklisting click track to read more
- By The Way
- Universally Speaking
- This Is The Place
- Don't Forget Me
- The Zephyr Song
- Can't Stop
- I Could Die For You
- Throw Away Your Television
- On Mercury
- Minor Thing
- Warm Tape
- Venice Queen
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Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way: Wikipedia Album Entry
By the Way is the eighth studio album by American alternative rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers, released on July 9, 2002 on Warner Bros. Records. It sold over 282,000 copies in the first week, and peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. The singles from the album included "By the Way", "The Zephyr Song", "Can't Stop", "Dosed" and "Universally Speaking". The lyrical subject matter vocalist Anthony Kiedis addresses in By the Way is a divergence from previous Chili Peppers albums, with Kiedis taking a more candid and reflective approach to his lyricism.
By the Way was applauded by critics as a departure from the band's previous styles, and is recognized for the melodic and subdued emotions given by the Chili Peppers. Guitarist John Frusciante is credited with writing most of the album's melodies, bass lines, and guitar progressions, therefore changing the direction of the recording dramatically: "his warm, understated guitar work and his doo-wop style vocal harmonies are king this time around." By the Way contained virtually none of the signature punk-funk fusion the band had become known for playing. Frusciante considered that writing "By the Way [was] one of the happiest times in my life."
Following a life threatening drug addiction that caused him to leave the Chili Peppers in 1992, Frusciante made a full recovery after a month of drug rehabilitation in the early months of 1998. Shortly thereafter he was asked to rejoin the Red Hot Chili Peppers. After several months of writing and recording, the Chili Peppers' next album, Californication was released. The album went on to sell over fifteen million copies worldwide, becoming the Chili Peppers' most successful recording to date. Frusciante's return generated much response from critics, who recognized the album as a commercial revitalization from their previous record, One Hot Minute. A two year long, international tour followed, which included several festival appearances, including Woodstock 1999 and Rock in Rio.
The writing and formation of By the Way began immediately following the culmination of Californication's world tour, in the Spring of 2001. As with Californication, much of the creation took place in the band members' homes, and other locations of practice, such as a recording studio stage. Kiedis recalled of the situation: "We started finding some magic and some music and some riffs and some rhythms and some jams and some grooves, and we added to it and subtracted from it and pushed it around and put melodies to it." Frusciante and Kiedis would collaborate together for days straight, discussing and sharing guitar progressions and lyrics. For Kiedis, "writing By the Way...was a whole different experience from Californication. John was back to himself and brimming with confidence." Prior to recording By the Way, the Chili Peppers decided that they would again have Rick Rubin produce the album. Rubin had, in the past, granted the Chili Peppers creative freedom on their recording material; this was something they thought essential for the album to be unique, and could only occur with his return.
The album's guitar and bass ensemble was primarily dictated by Frusciante, rather than a collaborative effort between him and bassist Flea. Therefore the record took different direction than any previous Chili Peppers' album. Frusciante sought to create an emotional and poignant soundscape throughout the recording. Drawing influences from musicians such as Vini Reilly of The Durutti Column and John McGeoch, Frusciante made use of textured and multilayered guitar progressions on By the Way, utilizing tools such as the mellotron and various effects pedals throughout.
Kiedis was lyrically influenced by love, his girlfriend, and the emotions expressed when one fell in love. Songs such as "Body of Water", "Someone" (both B-sides), "By the Way", "I Could Die for You" and "Warm Tape" all digressed into the many sides of love. Drugs also played an integral part in Kiedis' writings, as he had only been sober since December 2000. Tracks like "This Is the Place", "Don't Forget Me", and "Dosed" expressed his intense dislike for narcotics and the harmful physical and emotional effects they caused him. He referenced late Chili Peppers guitarist Hillel Slovak in "This Is the Place", and describes how drug use forced him to miss the funeral: "On the day my best friend died/I could not get my copper clean". "Venice Queen" was composed lyrically as an ode to Kiedis' drug rehabilitation therapist, Gloria Scott, who died shortly after he purchased her a home on California's Venice Beach. It mourned her death as a painful loss: "We all want to tell her/Tell her that we love her/Venice gets a queen/Best I've ever seen."
By the Way diverged from the band's previous styles, thus containing few funk-driven songs. "Can't Stop" was noted as the only song which revisited the Chili Peppers' once trademark style of short, rapped verses. "Throw Away Your Television", while not having any rapidly sung lyrics, also contained a funk oriented bass line, though hinted at experimental rock due to the heavy use of distortion throughout the verse and chorus. Other "experimental" tracks include the trumpet based "On Mercury". "Cabron", the only track to be played entirely on acoustic guitar, has visible Latin influences. "Tear" had a minor piano part, and "Warm Tape" was composed almost entirely on a keyboard.
Technically, By the Way saw the Chili Peppers employing several devices to distort and alter guitar and vocal sequences. "Don't Forget Me" utilizes a mellotron, wah pedal, and echoing techniques to convey an emotive atmosphere, while Frusciante uses a Big Muff for the solos on "Minor Thing". Frusciante's backing vocals, although present in Californication, became dominant in By the Way, as almost every track contained his background presence.
Feeling extremely confident in their album, the Chili Peppers issued the statement, "Greetings from the dimensions of invisible shapes and colors. The music on this record has expanded our space and made us bigger. Thank you for listening and being exactly where and who you are," in a press release. Chad Smith commented that By the Way is "very honest, raw, emotional music. It's a very dynamic, rich and lush album. Probably the best collection of Chili Peppers songs we've ever put out." Warner Bros. Records promoted the album heavily in the months prior to the record's 2002 release, especially targeting the online market in order to steer customers away from illegal downloads. The record label implemented a campaign they colloquially title "A Song A Day". This program, initiated on June 21, was aimed at leaking one song per day until the album was released. Over 150 radio stations participated in broadcasting the band's new daily material, along with MTV, VH1, and digital music retailers like iTunes, as well as Cell phone companies. AOL featured the Chili Peppers as their "Artist Of The Month" in June, streaming interviews and live performances of the band free of charge; they also sold an MP3 of "By the Way", the record's first single, for ninety-nine cents and raffled off tickets that gave fans a chance to see the band in Japan in November.
By the Way was released on CD and LP on July 9, 2002 under the Warner Bros. label, selling 281, 948 copies in the United States in its first week and 1.8 million worldwide. It was certified gold just a few months later on October 26, 2002. Five singles were released from it; of these, the title track "By the Way" was the most successful, peaking at #2 on the UK charts and #1 on the Billboard rock charts. Although the album sold fewer copies than Californication, By the Way managed to peak at #2 on the Billboard Top 200, one spot higher than Californication. Around the world, the album debuted at number one in the UK, Switzerland, New Zealand, Austria, and Sweden; and number two in France. In March 2006, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' albums were made available for download from the iTunes Music Store. By the Way included two previously unreleased tracks ("Runaway", and "Bicycle Song"). The original album tracks were not remastered, although the bonus tracks were.
The information regarding accolades attributed to By the Way is adapted from AcclaimedMusic.net.
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
Q Magazine United Kingdom Top 20 Albums from the Lifetime of Q (1986-2006) 2006 16
Q Magazine United Kingdom The Ultimate Music Collection 2005 *
Rolling Stone Germany The 100 Best Albums Since Autumn 1994 2003 71
Rolling Stone Germany The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 2004 304
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Standing in line to see the show tonight
And there's a light on, heavy glow
By the way, I tried to say, I'd be there
Shiver for me, girl
Deliver for me, my darling
Pushing up to you
A river that runs right through you
I change the key from C to D
You see to me, it's just a minor thing, y'all
He knows everything
I've got myself in a masochistic hold, why don't you let go
Shake it off but just to redirect my flow, come on let's go
Sit up straight, I'm on a double date
This is my time, this is my tear
I can see clearly now that this is not a place
For playing solitaire
Tell me where you want me
I see you in the park
Throw away your television
Time to make this clean decision
Master waits for its collision now
It's a repeat of a story told
Things will never be the same
Still I'm awfully glad I came
Resonating in the shape of things to come
Never waiting when I know there's only one
Something inside the cards
I know is right
Don't wanna live
Somebody else's life
Can't stop addicted to the shindig
Chop top, it says, I'm gonna win big
Choose not a life of imitation
Distant cousin to the reservation
Can I get your hand to write on?
Just a piece of lead to bite on
What am I to fly my kite on?
Do you want to flash your light on?
I'm an ocean in your bedroom
Make you feel warm
Make you wanna re-assume
Now, we know it all for sure
I got dosed by you and
Closer than most to you and
What am I supposed to do
This is the place where all
The junkies go
Where time gets fast
But everything gets slow
I saw your face, elegant and tired
Cut up from the chase, still, I so admire
Bloodshot your smile, delicate and wild
But give me she-wolf style, rip right through me
Does it go from east to west, y'all?
Body free and a body less, y'all
Come again just to start afresh
And once again to find a home