John Frusciante’s isolated guitar track on Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Under The Bridge’ is proof of his genius
The 1991 hit ‘Under The Bridge’ is undoubtedly one of the greatest rock songs ever written. A deeply melancholic love letter to Red Hot Chili Pepper’s home city of Los Angeles. In this isolated guitar track of the song, we can see the genius behind John Frusciante’s guitar.
After the announcement of Frusciante’s return to the band, we thought we’d take a look back at one of his finest moments. The track, which debuted on the canals of Amsterdam, found it’s way on to the band’s seminal record Blood, Sex, Magik and soon turned the band into megastars. The song explores the sadness and comfort that Los Angeles provides the young band.
While Anthony Kiedis was experiencing an increasing amount of loneliness from his band in the pursuit of sobriety, he felt, at times, as though his own city had his back. “I felt an unspoken bond between me and my city,” he once said. “I’d spent so much time wandering through the streets of L.A. and hiking through the Hollywood Hills that I sensed there was a nonhuman entity, maybe the spirit of the hills and the city, who had me in her sights and was looking after me.”
The beauty of this theme in the band’s song is how well—despite the apparent distance growing between them—Frusciante is able to convey the unique emotions of his bandmate and friend through his instrument. Echoing dusky streets and skulking sunsets, the guitarist evokes a feeling of epic vulnerability and his lead line remains a cultural touchstone for all those who hear it.
When the isolated guitar track is presented, it is hard to deny the volume of talent Frusciante has. At only 19 years of age, he creates a clean crunch on this song that hasn’t been replicated since—adding an idiosyncrasy to his playing style which would define the band’s output. ‘Under The Bridge’ has one of the most iconic intros of all time but it is around the one-minute mark where Frusciante’s notorious laconic yet sharp style comes to full effect.
It is only on this isolated track that you can see how Frusciante used his instrument to effectively convey the expression he held inside of himself, the genius part comes, when he can do that for somebody else—in this case, take Kiedis’ loneliness and turn it into a joint expression, both emphasising and subverting the song’s very notion.
Listen below to John Frusciante’s isolated guitar track on Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Under The Bridge’.