100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #12: “Dark Necessities” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

The song at #12 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s is “Dark Necessities” by Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Los Angeles-based funk-rock band have been making great music for more than 35 years, racking up scores of hits. They formed in 1983 while the four original members – singer Anthony Kiedis, guitarist Hillel Slovak, bassist Flea, and drummer Jack Irons – were students at Fairfax High School. Sadly, Slovak died of a heroin overdose in 1988 and Irons, devastated over Slovak’s death, left the band, and would later become a member of Pearl Jam. By the time “Dark Necessities” and its album The Getaway were recorded, the band consisted of founding members Kiedis and Flea, as well as Josh Klinghoffer on guitar and Chad Smith on drums.

Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2016

Thirteen of their songs have reached #1 on the Billboard Alternative chart, more than any other artist in the chart’s 31-year history. I love many of their songs, but my favorite of them all is “Dark Necessities”, from their 11th studio album The Getaway. I think it’s their greatest song yet and a real masterpiece. The band teamed up with Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse for the writing and production of the song and album, and say what you will about the use of more complex melodies and instrumentation, but I love it. Flea’s wonderful opening bass riff, the vibrant piano keys, and Josh Klinghoffer’s layered funky guitars are all drop-dead gorgeous, and I especially love the repeated “aah aah” in the backing chorus. The song was released in May 2016, and became their 13th #1 hit on both the Alternative and Adult Alternative charts.

In a video interview for the band’s YouTube channel, lead singer Anthony Kiedis explained that the song “speaks to the beauty of our dark sides and how much creativity and growth and light actually comes out of those difficult struggles that we have on the inside of our heads that no one else can see.” He added that the song meant a lot to Burton and it was one of his favorites on the album. Mine too! The meaningful lyrics show a real maturation of The Red Hot Chili Peppers sound, which is totally appropriate for a band whose members by then were in their late 40s to early 50s.

Coming on to the light of day
We got many moons that are deep at play
So I keep an eye on the shadow smile
To see what it has to say

You and I both know
Everything must go away
What do you say?

Spinning Knot that is on my heart
Is like a bit of light in a touch of dark
You got sneak attack from the zodiac
But I see your fire spark

Eat the breeze and go
Blow by blow and go away
What do you say?

Yeah

You don’t know my mind
You don’t know my kind
Dark necessities are part of my design
And tell the world that I’m falling from the sky
Dark necessities are part of my design

Stumble down to the parking lot
You got no time for the afterthought
They’re like ice cream for an astronaut
Well, that’s me looking for we

Turn the corner and
Find the world at your command
Playing the hand

Yeah

You don’t know my mind
You don’t know my kind
Dark necessities are part of my design
Tell the world that I’m falling from the sky
Dark necessities are part of my design

Do you want this love of mine?
Darkness helps us all to shine
Do you want it? Do you want it now?

Do you want it all the time?
But darkness helps us all to shine
Do you want it? Do you want it now?

Pick you up like a paper back
With the track record of a maniac
So I move it in and we unpack
It’s the same as yesterday

Any way we roll
Everything must go away
What do you say?

Yeah

You don’t know my mind
You don’t know my kind
Dark necessities are part of my design
Tell the world that I’m falling from the sky
Dark necessities are part of my design

The official video was directed by actress Olivia Wilde and filmed by Chris Blauvelt, and features four female long boarders (Carmen Shafer, Amanda Caloia, Amanda Powell, and Noelle Mulligan) skating around various locations in Los Angeles, interspersed with humorous scenes of the band acting silly and playing the song.

5 thoughts on “100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #12: “Dark Necessities” by Red Hot Chili Peppers

  1. hanspostcard

    I was surprised to see these ‘dinosaurs of rock” on the chart of a best of this decade list. I don’t think I’ve heard this- not really a fan of theirs- but this song- I’d give a thumb’s up!

    Liked by 1 person

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