Serendipity brought me back to John Frusciante. Although I was a fan of the free-spirited energy of the Red Hot Chili Peppers back in the 90’s, I hadn’t listened to their music since then.
It wasn’t until I started making Spotify playlists that ‘Pretty Little Ditty’ reappeared. Overcome by a wave of nostalgia, I went to YouTube to watch a live version. There’s this great video of Flea and John, foreheads pressed together for a moment, playing with what can only be described as brotherly love.
The emotions that arose were so deep and real that I was compelled to watch more Chili Peppers videos, if only for the purpose of hearing John’s soulful playing. It was then that I discovered everything that’s happened in John’s life in the decades since I’d last tuned in. Like many who walk off the beaten path, what Frusciante experienced during that time was truly life-altering. Some might say that it’s a miracle he’s still alive.
(to read more about John’s life, see his wiki)
“I used to always see things in the outside world as being ‘the enemies of an artist.’ I don’t see it that way anymore. To me, everything an artist needs is inside of himself, and it really doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world. Nothing else matters. You don’t need to have things perfect, you don’t need to have a lot of money or a beautiful girl. If your job in life is to create, you can find inside yourself what you need to make beautiful art and beautiful music. But you might have to clean yourself out, spiritually or physically. You gotta constantly purify yourself, living in the city, around human beings. There might be people close to you who affect you inside yourself in such a corrupt way that it screws with your ability to do what you do. But if you make sure that the people who are close to you are good people who are there for you and love you, you can create your temple everywhere you go.”
Not only did I become interested in hearing what he’d been up to musically in the years that had passed, I also had a growing interest in him as a thinker. His originality of thought pointed towards a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of music and existence that I found compelling.
“Music is not something that you are in control of. It comes from somewhere else. If you’re that middleman between the cosmos and the real world on Earth that the music comes through, you are very lucky. When you record music, it’s not your job to try to control anything. It’s more about being in the right place and flowing with the energies that are in the air around you and with the people that you are making the music with. The second that someone thinks music comes from themselves, and that they are the ones responsible for it, is when they go off track. The most important thing you could realize is that you are the least important part of the whole process. Music is going to be made whether any one artist is here or not. If John Lennon or Jimi Hendrix had disappeared, music still would have gone on, changed, grown, and been the beautiful thing that it is. You take away the music, all you have are the individuals, and they don’t mean anything. The individual is nothing, it’s the music that’s in the air all the time that’s important, and you have to be humble in the face of that.”
In reference to the media and their fascination with image, he had this to say:
“It’s not because Jimi Hendrix looked the way he looked. It’s not because Jimi Hendrix danced the way he danced. Or because his name was f**king Jimi Hendrix. It’s like these things are just meaningless, yet the way the business uses these media tools has perpetuated this idea that what’s important is that he’s the greatest guitarist ever, and he’s Jimi Hendrix, and there’s his picture, that’s him. And it’s like, you know, the only real picture of him is his music.”
(to read a synopsis of this July 16, 2008 interview, click here)
His solo work is just as riveting as his life story. It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to anything that has had the evocative power that John’s music has had on me. He’s a natural artist with a real penchant for melody and arrangement. Here’s a song from his album “Curtains,” called “Anne.” Currently one of my favorites, the album has simple but beautiful acoustic guitar.