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Music

The tragic deaths linked to a Blink-182 classic

Blink-182 rose to global acclaim gradually through the 1990s with their first two albums, 1995’s Cheshire Cat and ’97’s Dude Ranch. Early success was ignited by the hit single ‘Dammit’, which received heavy airtime on rock stations across the States. But it wasn’t until the release of the band’s third album in 1999, the thunderous and angsty Enema of the State, that they really began to feel traction.

The album’s success was partially thanks to the recent welcome of new drumming virtuoso Travis Barker, but it also marked the maturation of Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge’s songwriting prowess. Enema of the State was home to some of Blink’s best-loved hits, including the record’s lead singles ‘What’s My Age Again?’ and ‘All the Small Things’. 

The third and final single released from the momentous third studio effort was a much more serious submission primarily written by Hoppus. ‘Adam’s Song’ is an ode to isolation, depression and suicide; the more serious and darker tone of the track grounded the album with much-welcomed creative balance. 

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‘Adam’s Song’ took the form of a suicide letter and was partly inspired by Hoppus’ feelings of loneliness at the time of writing. While on tour in 1999, Hoppus’ bandmates all had girlfriends to keep them company while he lamented his single status. 

The line “I took my time, I hurried up, the choice was mine, I didn’t think enough” refers to the 1991 Nirvana classic ‘Come As You Are’, which holds the similar line: “Take your time, hurry up, the choice is yours, don’t be late.” This suggests that the song was also inspired by the suicide of the former Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain

One final key source of inspiration for ‘Adam’s Song’ was revealed in an interview with DeLonge: “The story behind that is Mark read a letter someone sent him as an email, that a kid wrote before he committed suicide to his parents. We kind of got together and wrote this sad, slow song. It came out sadder than we ever thought it would, which is good too. Any song that moves you is good. Some people listen to it and go ‘Wow, that’s a real bum-out of a song.’ But it’s one of those things, a story of a kid not being happy in his life, crossed with us being really lonely on tour. At the end of it, there’s a better way out, there are better things to do than kill yourself.”

The single was an unbridled success upon its release in 2000, peaking at number two on the US Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. But while the mournful song intended to empathise with and inspire hope in those experiencing depression and feelings of isolation, it encountered controversy shortly after its release when a student at the infamous Columbine High School in Colorado committed suicide with ‘Adam’s Song’ playing on repeat.

Listen to Blink-182 face darkness with ‘Adam’s Song’ below.