Meaning of Give It Away by Red Hot Chili Peppers

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have not played one of their many songs at concerts more often than the famous Give It Away. As of June 2020, she has performed the composition live 948 times. As you read this article, this impressive number will likely increase. The famous track is three decades old and still on the RHCP setlists.

Do you know how many times Anthony Kiedis says “give it away” on a track? The answer is at the end of the article.

Song story Give It Away – RHCP

John Frusciante and Flea wrote a working version of Give It Away in early 1990. The composition originated during their joint jams about a month before the band started working on the Blood Sugar Sex Magik album. They composed the main riff and bass guitar part.

At that time, John and Flea were also members of HATE. They managed to perform the track several times at the group’s performances. When the musicians left that project, they offered the song to Anthony Kiedis. Listening to the song, he began to sing: “Give it away, give it away now.”

He came up with this phrase earlier, but did not know where to attach it. Kiedis later recalled:

I was so struck by Flea’s bass line, which covered the neck of the instrument along the entire length, that I jumped up and went to the microphone, grabbing a notebook. I always had song fragments, ideas or even individual phrases ready.

The meaning of the song Give It Away – RHCP

When writing the lyrics of the song Give It Away, the leader of the Red Hot Chili Peppers was inspired by the idea of ​​selfless care for people. Rock singer Nina Hagen, whom he met for some time in the early eighties, prompted him to think about the role of altruism in the life of a musician.

The “Godmother of German Punk” was older than Kiedis and had a huge impact on him. He later recalled:

She understood how young and inexperienced I was then, so she always shared invaluable advice with me, but without moralizing, but at the opportunity.

According to a well-known tale, Anthony was going through Hagen’s wardrobe and expressed admiration for the cool jacket. Nina immediately insisted that he take the thing for himself, explaining his decision as follows:

If you have a closet full of things and you try to save them all, your life becomes insignificant. But if someone finds something they like in your full closet, and you give it to them, the world becomes a better place.

Her philosophy made Kiedis reconsider his outlook on life:

It was a revelation to me that someone might want to give me a favorite thing. It forever amazed me. Since then, every time I think: “I should save,” I remember: “No, it’s better to give.” When I started attending meetings regularly [анонимных алкоголиков и наркоманов – прим. Blimey]I learned an important principle. Sobriety can be maintained by sharing it with others who suffer from alcoholism. Each time you release your energy from this vessel, it is filled with new energy.

Speaking on VH1, the musicians briefly explained what the song Give It Away is about:

The more you give, the more you get, so why not give it all away?

Behind the Music


The Red Hot Chili Peppers recorded Give It Away in April/May 1991 at The Mansion Studios in Los Angeles, California. The process was led by the famous Rick Rubin. He sought to give all the tracks from the Blood Sugar Sex Magik album a sound characteristic of the sixties. The producer said:

What you hear is what you get – almost without cheating. Many people want the most powerful sound, with walls of guitars and huge drums. But I don’t think it matters.

Guitar Player, 1991

Frusciante preferred a raw sound and limited himself to one take for the guitar solo. Flea recalled:

We made very few edits. John’s philosophy was that he would play solo twice. He played once. If he or we didn’t like it, he played again – in a completely different way. And that’s it.

Guitar World 1991

Release and achievements

On September 4, 1991, the track was released as the lead single from Blood Sugar Sex Magik. It topped the Billboard US Alternative Airplay chart but only peaked at number 73 on the Hot 100. The song peaked at number nine in the UK.

The composition has received numerous awards, including the following:

  • “Best Hard Rock Song” – Grammy 1993,
  • “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll” – Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,
  • “100 Greatest Singles of All Time” – Kerrang!
  • “100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs” – Q.

Video Give It Away – RHCP

The original music video for the song was directed by Stephane Sednaoui. Anthony Kiedis could not choose a director for a long time. He watched a lot of video material, but nothing he liked:

Everything seemed the same, boring, homogenized, contrived shit.

Then he came across a video of Sednaoui that stood out from the crowd:

It was slow and poetic, black and white. It seemed to be genuine art, not something they make for MTV.

As a result, the members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers settled on the candidacy of this French director and photographer. Let’s watch online the famous video clip Give It Away.

Interesting Facts

  • Anthony Kiedis sings the title phrase 68 times.
  • Pete Weiss plays vargan in Give It Away.
  • RHCP performed Give It Away for The Simpsons. They were asked to sing “What I’d like, is I’d like to hug and kiss you” instead of “What I’ve got, I got to get and put it in you”. So the authors recalled the famous story of Ed Sullivan (Ed Sullivan), who tried to get Jim Morrison and The Doors to change the words of the song Light My Fire.
  • Taking the song Give It Away as a basis, Yuri Klinskikh from the Gaza Strip group wrote Ivan’s Aria for the fairy tale album Kashchei the Immortal.

Give It Away Lyrics

What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your mama
What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your pappa
What I’ve got you’ve got to give it to your daughter
You do a little dance and then you drink a little water

What I’ve got you’ve got to get it put it in you
What I’ve got you’ve got to get it put it in you
What I’ve got you’ve got to get it put it in you
Reeling with the feeling don’t stop continue

I realize I don’t want to be a miser
Confide with sly you’ll be the wiser
Young blood is the lovin’ upriser
How come everybody want to keep it like the kaiser

Give it away give it away give it away now
Give it away give it away give it away now
Give it away give it away give it away now

I can’t tell if I’m a kingpin or a pauper

Greedy little people in a sea of ​​distress
Keep your more to receive your less
Unimpressed by material excess
love is free love me say hell yes

I’m a low brow but I rock a little know how
No time for the piggies or the hoosegow
Get smart get down with the pow wow
Never been a better time than right now

Bob Marley
Bob Marley taught me how to off it
Bob Marley walkin’ like he talk it
Goodness me can’t you see I’m gonna cough it


Lucky me swimmin’ in my ability
Dancin’ down on life with agility
Come and drink it up from my fertility
Blessed with a bucket of lucky mobility

My mom I love her ’cause she love me
Long gone are the times when she scrub me
Feelin’ good my brother gonna hug me
Drink my juice young love chug-a-lug me

There’s a river born to be a giver
Keep you warm won’t let you shiver
His heart is never gonna wither
Come on everybody time to deliver


Version 1

Lyrics: Anthony Kiedis, Chad Smith, Michael ‘Flea’ Balzary, John Frusciante
Publisher: MoeBeToBlame

Verse 1

  • Native American congregation
  • In his autobiography Scar Tissue, Anthony Kiedis said that this verse is dedicated to their friend, actor and musician River Phoenix.


Download Give It Away

The site Blimey does not offer readers to download Give It Away in mp3 for free. You can only listen to Red Hot Chili Peppers songs online and watch rock band clips. Karaoke versions, tabs and notes of the track can be found on thematic resources.

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