Why the Red Hot Chili Peppers Recorded “Behind The Sun”
The sun is often used as an image for happiness and positive thoughts. The brightness of the star and the fact that it is capable of illuminating the darkest places transmits an idea of hope. But are we aware of the importance the sun has for our own survival? The American band Red Hot Chili Peppers gave voice to a song that explores this issue. In this post, you can find out the whole story of the song “Behind the Sun”.
Although many Red Hot Chili Peppers fans feel the band didn’t find its success until “Mothers Milk” – the acclaimed record released in 1989 – the song “Behind the Sun” is the living proof that the years with the founding guitarist Hillel Slovak had their share of highlights.
Truth be told, the band believed at once in “Behind the Sun’s” success when the album “Uplift Mofo Party Plan” was released in 1987. However, the label refused to release it as a single, because it was too melodic and didn’t represent the band’s sound. In fact, “Behind the Sun” would not be released as single until 1992 to promote a compilation album.
But What Does the Song Mean?
Let’s look at the lyrics to understand the meaning of the song. It all starts when the vocalist says that one day, while he was on the sea, a dolphin spoke to him, revealing all the wonders beneath the sea and admitting that we all live behind the sun:
“One day while bathing in the sea
My talking dolphin spoke to me
He spoke to me in symphony
From freedom’s peace beneath the sea”
Here, the meaning is clear: the band stresses how important it is that human beings are in “symphony” with nature. The dolphin is seen as a sort of ambassador, representing Planet Earth and reporting all the wonders of the world like the “peace beneath the sea”. But then, these intriguing lyrics follow:
“He looked to me eyes full of love
Said yes, we live behind the sun”
What does it mean that “we live behind the sun”? Are we living in the sun’s shadow? This seems an unlikely option, since the sun is spherical and emits its light all around, even if we were hiding behind it. Could it mean that we should give thanks to the sun because there could not be life without it?
With rhythmic beats, the song proceeds with the chorus. The vocalist compares the regular movements of the sun with his heart beating.
“The sun goes up
And the sun gets down
But like the heart of the sun
My heart continues to pound”
Yes, these lines seem to confirm what we said above: “Like the heart of the sun/my heart continues to pound”. Here, the band establishes a direct relationship between the existence of the sun and the continuity of human life itself. Without the sun, the heart does not pound.
The sense of parting is introduced in the next verses when the vocalist describes the dolphin swimming away while he stands under the rain.
“Now, while I shower in the rain
I watch my dolphin swim away
The one who listens to the surf
Can feel the pulse beat of the earth
And like my dolphin swims so free
The sun does swim into the sea”
It is raining now, the sun is disappearing and the dolphins swim away. This is a dark scenario: something must have gone wrong. Although the lyrics are open to many interpretations, my guess is that we, as humans, sometimes don’t deserve the planet we live in because we don’t respect it. Day turns into night and the dolphin flees with the wonders you cannot have. In the end, we are left in the rain: this is a clear metaphor.
The last lines before the end of the song talk about “an island flying through the sky”. What could this be? Planes crossing the sky? Smoke and gases covering the atmosphere?
This seems provoked by human beings, because after that the vocalist sings “one day your son might ask you why” there is “an island flying through the sky”. Are we responsible for it? Will our children suffer because of the damage we have done to the planet?
But the hope is not all lost. The lyrics also suggest that there can be a future for the next generations, if they learn and do better than we did: “My dolphin loves to teach” is the line that suggests that nature is always willing to teach and that it is never too late to do something good for the world we live in. In fact, it is this appealing message that “Behind The Sun” stands for: we can help to save the planet!
Who Are the Red Hot Chili Peppers?
The American funk/rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers was formed in Los Angeles in 1983 and is now considered one of the greatest bands of the 1990’s. Their characteristic style mixes rock and funk, as well as elements from other genres, such as punk and psychedelic rock. Until now, the Red Hot Chili Peppers released 10 albums with great success in many countries.
Well known by their live concerts, the band stands out by the improvised nature of their performance. Red Hot Chili Peppers won 7 Grammy Awards and are one of the best-selling bands of all time, with over 80 million records sold all around the world.