This is the second song to feature here from The Red Hot Chili Peppers but the first from their seventh album, Californication (1999), which became their biggest commercial success, with 16 million copies sold worldwide. In 1998 just prior the group was on the verge of breaking up. Their guitarist Frusciante had a heroin addiction which left him destitute and near death. Flea convinced Frusciante to admit himself to a Drug Rehabilitation Center. His addiction left him with scarring on his arms, a restructured nose, and dental implants following an oral infection. In April 1998, Flea visited the recovered Frusciante and asked him to rejoin the band; Frusciante began sobbing and said nothing would make him happier.
After more than a year of production the Red Hot Chili Peppers released Californication. Californication contained fewer rap songs (like the previous entry here – Give it Away) than its predecessors, instead integrating textured and melodic guitar riffs, vocals and basslines. It produced three number-one modern rock hits, Scar Tissue, Californication and today’s featured song – Otherside. The song confronts the battles addicts have with their prior addictions, specifically to former band member Hillel Slovak, who died of a heroin overdose in 1988.
I heard your voice through a photograph
I thought it up and brought up the past
Once you know you can never go back
I gotta take it on the other side…
Centurys are what it meant to me
A cemetary where I marry the sea
A stranger thing that never changed my mind
I gotta take it on the other side
I gotta take it on take it on…
Many critics credited the success of the album to Frusciante’s return. The album launched them a 2-year international world tour and they played the closing show at Woodstock 1999 (pictured above). During their set a small fire escalated into violence and vandalism, resulting in the intervention of riot control squads. “It was clear that this situation had nothing to do with Woodstock anymore. It wasn’t symbolic of peace and love, but of greed and cashing in.”