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Give It Away


Red Hot Chili Peppers

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

In a VH1 Behind the Music special the band explained that this song, which sounds like it has no meaning, is about the theory that "The more you give, the more you receive, so why not give it all away?" (thanks, Matt - Wappingers Falls, NY)
Lead singer Anthony Kiedis drew inspiration for this song from the German singer Nina Hagen, when he came across one of her jackets that he liked. She insisted he take it, explaining that giving stuff away creates good energy.
The group performed this on The Simpsons in the episode where Krusty hosted a comeback special. They were instructed to change the lyrics of "What I've got, I got to get and put it in you" to "What I'd like, is I'd like to hug and kiss you." This was a reference to the time that Ed Sullivan asked Jim Morrison to change the words of "Light My Fire" when appearing on his show. (thanks, Stephanie - Ellicott City, MD)
The verse in the song, "There's a river born to be a giver. Keep you warm, don't let you shiver. His heart is never gonna wither. Come on, everybody, time to deliver" refers to actor River Phoenix, who was a good friend of RHCP guitarist John Frusciante. After River's death, the Peppers wrote the tribute song to him, "Transcending." (thanks, Bert - Pueblo, NM)
Anthony Kiedis sings "Give It Away" 68 times in this song. (thanks, Colton - Puyallup, WA)
Weird Al Yankovic parodied this song. His version is called "Bedrock Anthem," and is about the cartoon The Flintstones. It starts out with a parody of the beginning of the Chili Peppers "Under The Bridge" (their other massive hit at the time), and goes into a spoof of this song. Weird Al's music video was a spoof of the "Under the Bridge" and "Give it Away" videos that all began with the Bee Girl from Blind Melon's "No Rain" video. (thanks, Bert - Pueblo, NM)
Red Hot Chili Peppers performed this song at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2014 at MetLife Stadium Stadium in New Jersey (this was the game when the Seattle Seahawks blew out the Denver Broncos, 43-8). The headliner of the show was Bruno Mars, who started in on the song before the Peppers appeared. Mars and his band stayed on stage the song, and after a video interlude, closed the show with their track "Just The Way You Are."
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Comments (52):

@Tom: How did I miss that episode?!?! p.s. the parody is hilarious too lololololololololololol
- Michael, DeRidder, LA
great song....gotta good riff and loud right away
- ryan, Nigger killer county, PA
Anthony never dated Nina Hagen. They were just reall good friends and she was a mentor/ maternal presence to him. its mentioned in Scar Tissue.
- Theo, Johannesburg, South Africa
I've found, that Cosmic Slop, song from Hardcore Jollies(Funkadelic-1976),has a similarity with Give it Away,only in the beggining but you can't say that is a copy, Frusciante is one of the greatest!! And of course, a Funkadelic fan. Hardcore Jollies has strong guitars. Heard both songs and enjoy!
- Gabriel, Curitiba, Brazil
What a fun it! I became a big fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers early on when they released a tune called "Fight Like A Brave", which is also listed on Songfacts. My first thought was that this group did great rock with a sense of humor. Can't wait for what comes next from Anthony, Flea and the gang.
- Jim, Kennett Square, PA
I was searching for an information about this song and had discovered songfacts. Nice to meet you.
There's a song, I don't know, if it's
Sly's or Funkadelic, that I've heard once in a party, but when I've heard it I've tought that give it away was inspired on that, the riff is not totally equal, but it has the same style(the beggining one), so if there is somebody who knows this song, please tell us.
About backward recordings it seems there's some in Tomorrow Never Knows(Revolver).
- Gabriel, Curitiba, Brazil
Seriously,a lot of bands in thearly 60's used backwards messages as a sign that people should enjoy music-not rant on about the "demonic following"
- Matt, Houston, TX
Scott,I believe there was another band that used backward recordings before Hendrix... let me think. Oh yeah, The Beatles. Have you heard of them. Perhaps you should acquire a copy of 'Rubber Soul' (1965) and give it a good listen while you're brushing up on the history of rock n' roll.
- Craig Lee, Valdosta, GA
Get Audacity and reverse the Whole Song. You hear the original solo + it Sounds cool
- SilverFox, N/A, TX
Recording instruments backwards was first done by Jimi Hendrix in the song "Are You Experienced". The guitar, bass, and drums are all backwards in that song.
- Scott, Boston, MA
To Louside Durham, learn to spell please - noone can understand you
- Luke, Manchester, England
River Phoenix was also a good friend of Fleas, to the point in fact that flea personally requested him to interview him for the master sessions tape, which can be seen on youtube. If your a bassist i recommend you check it out
- Glen, High Level, AB
i luv flea (best bass ever)
i luv anthony
i luv chad
but i love john the most..
in the video..i think one kiss another quikly..
- Mirna, Portoviejo, Ecuador
This song was written after the band were jamming to Black Sabbaths sweet leaf. They played with the Sabbath riff and came up with the riff to give it away. You can hear the Sabbath riff at the end of the song. Thats why its called "give it away". They put the source of the riff in the song.
- steven, Penarth, Wales
Probably one of their best songs and definately flea's best bass riff. I heard that this song was created in a jam session and tat when flea came up with the riff, Anthony started yelling "give it away give it away give it away now" into the microphone.
- Corey Maller, Roslyn Heights, NY
okay, i read thru and haven't seen anyone suggest that hes not talkin about money/things (how shallow); rather hes talkin about LOVE!

the song is MUCH better in that light. why write a song about giving money/things to your momma, poppa and "dawta'!"

"what I got, you gotta get it put it in you"... how do you put things "in you". You gotta feel his love and "get it in you"... we all do.

easily one of my favorites songs once I saw it this way (use to hate it what I thought it was purely sexual). it'd be a damn shame to see an actual comment from RHCP stating otherwise (anybody found one?)
- Jamie, san diego, CA
this song kinda speaks about against materialism
'the more you give the more you receive' so y not GIVE IT AWAY
this song rocks!!!!!!!!!
- Handah Jane, Grafton, United States
norman, detroit. Keidis and Flea did kick the habit, but Kiedes relapsed 6 months later. And i think the quit after writing this song.
- Justin, Sierra Vista, AZ
i think the part, "Look at me swimming in my ability" refers to when Keides was experience back problems much after he broke his back jumping off of a house into a pool as a kid. A doctor told him to swim to keep his back healthy.
- Justin, Sierra Vista, AZ
The Weird Al parody was "Bedrock Anthem". It wasn't that funny IMO, but then again the original videos were already too goofy to even parody. :p Not that that's a bad thing.
- Allyson, In my own little world, TX
Wow...noone referenced Weird Al's Parody of this song. He did a two-part parody of Red Hot Chilli Peppers songs. The intro was from "Under the Bridge" (City of Angels) and the main part was from "Give it Away Now". I can't remember the title of the song, but Weird Al sings it as Fred Flinstone singing Yabba Dabba Yabba Dabba Dabba Do Now...Its really good i can't remember the title :) Anyone know?
- Brandon, Peoria, IL
i always thought the "put it in you" line was a sexual reference. and i though flea and keidis kicked the habit in 88, so i dont think its a drug reference.
- norman, detroit, MI
funkiest bassline ever
- Mischa, Winnipeg
this song is about harogene. what i got you got to get it PUT IT IN YOU. the chili peppers were really big into harogene.
- mark, fort worth, TX
Funky guitar and great lyrics. Amazing song, ranks in their top 5 of all time.
- caius, ballarat, Australia
The guitar solos are not performed by John playing the guitar backwards, because thats impossible! He recorded the guitar playing the solo on to tape, and then played the tape backwards, which is what you hear on the CD.
- Chris, Poole, England
me n me m8 becka spazzed out to this song on the bus and no1 even looked at us! id like 2 say hello 2 mr walker, my geography teacher! also lockeyyy HAHA Maths teacher. u go lockey!
- Louise, Durham
I think part of it is about drugs "Bob marley poet and a prophet
Bob marley taught how to off it
Bob marley walkin? like he talk it
Goodness me can?t you see I?m gonna cough it"
- will, moval, CA
the line about river phoenix ends in wither, per his new book scar tissue - jeanne, texas
- jeanne, corsicana, TX
Give it away was written before River died. Yeah it's abt giving before receiving and what not..great song.
- A, Scarborough, Canada
i didn't even know that they sang that song
- zach, Kerrville, TX
When I heard these lyrics back in '96, my dad said they're singing about AIDS. But, who the hell knows.
- JT, Tullahoma, TN
He does this THING with his does he do it?? :-P
- Lyzette, Moorpark, CA
this is my favorite RHCP song ever. 2nd is Universally Speaking.
- Billy Ross, Hagerstown, MD
Flea is the best bassist of all time.
- Matt, Millbrae, CA
This verse:

"There's a river born to be a giver.
Keep you warm, don't let you shiver.
His heart is never gonna wiver.
Come on, everybody, time to deliver."

is a reference to the late actor River Phoenix. the band was friends with him and Flea was with Phoenix at the clubthe night he died.
- Mark, San Antonio, TX
Actually, to the person who said this song seemed is not at all...this song was not planned out..rhcp was in the studio and john was playing guitar and anthony heard the guitar and just came over and started singing 'give it away..give it away now' was after a girlfriend of his gave him one of her favourite jackets when anthony was looking through her closet and said 'wow i like this jacket' and she said 'oh you can have it'...i guess anthony was really touched!
- trueRHCPfan, Hamilton, AL
Of course you can hear the intros to the next track - The album was done in one complete take.
- Luke, Manchester, England
I could be wrong but this is my favortie rock album ever: What you hear at the end is just the intro to the next song BoodSugarSexMagic each song in the album leads into the next one. For example at he end of Rightous and the Wicked you can hear had counting in Give it Away and Keidis says "crank it up, this is it". And backing up the idea at the very top, lines like "greedy little people in a sea of distress""unimpressed by material excess"giving their point of view of materialism and consumerism and that sh^t
- John, Perth, Australia
This song also features on Plasma shaft - IN PROGRESS! Pretty cool to listen to! Oh! By the Way - Pete Weiss plays the Juice harp.
- Wendy, Wiltshire, England
That beeping or "boingy" sound is actually a Juice Harp (or a Jew's Harp). I don't know who plays it but it is in the liner notes to BloodSugarSexMagik.
- JohnnyT, Aurora, IL
Now another friend is arguing with me over whether the cost of parking + gas is $3 or $4. I didn't feel like arguing, cuz whether he gives me $3 or $4, I'll "Give it Away, Give it Away, Give it Away NOW!"
- Kelvin, Vancouver, Canada
This song is definitely one of my favourites - super addictive and just can't get off my mind!

It reminds me of my friends who owe me money, in fact only $21 for one of my friends - How come everybody wanna keep it like a kaiser?
- Kelvin, Vancouver, Canada
they performed this at MTVs twentieth aniversery celebration thing in 2001 as the closing song
- Derek, Raleigh, NC
dude brush up on your history a kaiser is a german king
- Alex, edmonton, Canada
I didn't really think about the lyric before I read the meaning of the song here, but "How come everybody wants to keep it like the kaiser?" seems to call upon the Jewish stereotype of being cheap, something sort of shallow I wouldn't expect from RHCP. Maybe I'm wrong though.
- Billy, Cape May, NJ
yes, i hear the beeping. it's kinda boingy.
John Frusciante says that the guitar riff was inspired by "Sweet Leaf" and that's why the end features it.
They also mention Bob Marley. . this is a truly unique song. Nobody's ripped it off yet. Amazing.
- Eddie, Lachine, MI
anyone else hear persistant random beeping noises throughout this song?
- Louis, London, England
The intro riff to black sabbath's Sweet Leaf can be heard at the end of Give it Away, at about 4:11.
- Tom, canberra, Australia
How come it didn't do very well in America?
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
The solo in the middle is a recording of John playing the guitar played backward.
- Nick, Paramus, NJ
The Red Hot Chili Peppers performed this when they appeared on the Simpsons!
- Tom, Trowbridge, England
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