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Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘Brendan’s Death Song’ – Song Review

Red Hot Chili Peppers Brendan's Death Song
Warner Bros. Records

Red Hot Chili Peppers keep cranking out the hits. With ‘Brendan’s Death Song,’ the fourth single from their 2011 album ‘I’m With You,’ it’s quite possible they’re saving the best for last (depending on how deep they go into this album).

The track is a standout due in part to its variation from the rest of the album. For listeners, it’s the rare opportunity to hear a somber and somewhat laid back Chili Peppers. So what’s bringing the band down? It’s the death of longtime friend Brendan Mullen, as referenced in the song title.

Mullen was one of their first supporters and was instrumental in getting them their early shows. He had been working with the band on their biography and was involved in several other band-related projects over the years. His death coincided with the first day of rehearsals for the group with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer.

Flea says of Mullen, “Brendan had a lot of friends. I was one of them. Brendan was an intellectual, a musician, a writer, a partier, and a regular dude. And I speak for all of us when I say to Brendan … a love supreme! Brendan has broken through to the other side!”

With lines such as, “When you hear this / You know it’s your jam / It’s your goodbye,” “Way back when / We’ll never be again / It was a time / It’s gonna catch you / So glad I met you / To walk the line,” and the chorus of “Like I said / You know I’m almost dead / You know I’m almost gone / And when the drummer drums / He’s gonna play my song / To carry me along,” there’s no doubting where the band’s heart is at.

But if you didn’t catch it in the lyrical content, the music alone shows you the emotion. It starts off with Klinghoffer’s lone acoustic guitar and a mellower mid-tempo beat for most of the song until drummer Chad Smith gets a chance to deliver a flurry of cymbal crashes and pounding beats. Meanwhile, Anthony Kiedis reaches vocal heights rarely heard during the peak of the song. It’s not his usual sing-rap style as it’s clear he’s shouting to the heavens.

The band has moved into their next era with the ‘I’m With You’ disc, and it’s clear that ‘Brendan’s Death Song’ is a step in the right direction toward a road less traveled and a fitting tribute to their late friend.4 Stars

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