The first single from Red Hot Chili Peppers' tenth studio album, I'm With You, was released to radio on July 15, 2011, three days earlier than expected due to the single leaking. The song was the first single by RHCP in four years following the 2007 release of "Hump De Bump."
This was RHCP's first single with new guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, following John Frusciante's departure in 2009.
The song originated with a specific exercise where Flea set out to write a classic bass line. Vocalist Anthony Kiedis recalled to MTV News: "Flea brought it in as a very specific exercise to write a classic bass line. He woke up, had his tea, sat down: 'I'm going to write a classic bass line. You can't stop me.' Played his bass line until he felt it was cooked into a classic, brought it to us and said, 'This is Classic Number One.' On a good day, you just know if there's music to wrestle with and get with, and it was one of those moments."
Klinghoffer added guitar and drummer Chad Smith a backbeat with extended cowbell to what became a mostly instrumental hour-long jam. Kiedis liked what he heard, but he told MTV news he never thought "Maggie" would be anything more than a B-side. "I took it home and it felt so fun to listen to at length that I literally left it on in my driveway, opened the door and danced with the tree next to me for quite a while," he said. "I had no idea that it would even be a song, I just thought, 'Oh, this is a great dance track. Let's put it on as a B-side, [an] hour long.' And then, as fate would have it, people heard it, and they were like, 'Oh, that's your best thing right there. That's your best thing.'"
Kiedis discussed the song's meaning with MTV News without divulging whom the titular Maggie is. "It's just a collection of memories and people along the way that had maybe left my consciousness until I heard that music, and then they kind of came dancing back into my consciousness, and out the old pen onto the paper," he smiled. "Names have been changed to protect the innocent. Although there is a Maggie, I realized later. There's two Maggies, actually."
Rick Rubin, who worked with the band on their five previous albums, produced the song.
Rapper Kreayshawn directed the song's music video. The "Gucci Gucci" creator is a former Berkeley Film School student and has directed visuals for the likes of West Coast rapper Lil B, though she was surprised when the band's label contacted her management about helming the RHCP's clip. She told Billboard magazine her intention was to return the band to its roots. "I wanted to keep it '90s-era based, like an underground feel to it," she said. "[The song] really has that sound that just takes you back. It's cool because they got to take a break, and I feel like it's important for any artist to take a break and regroup. And for them to come out and still have the same type of vibe and same type of sound, I really like that."
The album had the working title of 'Dr Johnny Skinz's Disproportionately Rambunctious Polar Express Machine-head' before to the relief of many a DJ it was changed to the less tongue-twisting I'm With You. It was Klinghoffer who coined the record's name after the band had struggled to come up with anything suitable. "We thought of calling it a song title off the record, and when I mentioned that to Rick [Rubin], he said, 'That just makes it seem like we don't have enough ideas,'" frontman Anthony Kiedis told MTV News. "And I didn't even stop to think of the fact that every one of our records is like that, and I don't think 'shortage of ideas' was ever our primary dilemma, considering the mountain range of scraps we left behind. So, as an experiment, I started making lists of titles, and all of them, in retrospect, were quite lame, and none of them really captured the spirit of this record, which we had all very much fallen in love with.
And then Josh showed up one day, maybe a day before there was some sort of deadline for a title, and he wrote ['I'm With You'] on a piece of paper," he continued, "And very subtly scooched it [in front of me], and I was like, 'What's that?' And we all kind of put our eyes on it at the same time and went: 'That is the title of our record.'"
The visual finds the band holding a late afternoon jam session on a rooftop overlooking Venice Beach and the director told MTV News the idea came from an old, iconic promo. "[Anthony Kiedis and I] were actually looking at the Beatles' 'Get Back' rooftop video and we decided that, 'Hey, how cool would it be to do something like this?' " Klasfeld said. "And do it in Southern California and shoot it at a magic hour and get that warm glow and make something iconic like that for such an iconic band ... My whole thing was like, 'I just wanna shoot film. I just want to shoot this on film, and I want this to look great, and I know nobody shoots film anymore,' but I was like, 'That's what's gonna make this so special.'"
Kiedis told MTV News the video was inspired by their home state of California. "We wanted to go be outside and be free and play and see what happened," he said.
In the first music video, directed by Kreayshawn (which was later scrapped), a girl and a guy meet at a party. The girl lets the guy have a sip from her drink, which apparently contains drugs. The rest of the video follows the guy on his trip, and at the end he loses consciousness and paramedics take him away.
The band members played roles in this video, with Chad being the night club's bouncer, Flea being a bartender, and Josh and Anthony being the paramedics. The music video also included footage of the band playing the song at the nightclub.