For this blog, I tend to stay away from writing about my top-tier favorite bands and albums. By providing an avenue to newer and lesser known artists, it has helped me to listen and share some great music that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to hear. Unfortunately, there is one album that I cannot stop hitting the repeat button to, and must tell you all about. It happens to be made by one of my favorite guitarists: John Frusciante.
For those who aren’t familiar with the name, John Frusciante is best known as being the guitarist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers through their glory days. Some of their most famous albums feature his amazing guitar and singing abilities, including By The Way and Californication. His funky, yet experimental sound is his signature in the modern rock scene. Having had the privilege to see him live while as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frusciante absolutely stole the show from his bandmates. Everything about him is fun, ridiculous, tragic, heart-lifting, and inspiring. Through his life, he has made several albums (many of which will be featured on this blog at some point down the road), but there is one that I’ve only recently started to play over and over again. That album is “The Empyrean.”
To tell everyone the truth about me, I have a certain musical flaw: I tend to absolutely ignore the lyrics and only focus on the band. I use the words “tend to” liberally, as my friends can attest to my photographic recitation of entire album’s worth of lyrics during concerts. “The Empyrean” fell into the prior category, though, because I was already such a huge fan of Frusciante’s guitar ability. With that said, replaying this album on repeat throughout the weeks has got me to thinking: “I’ve listened to this album now a hundred times. I know every solo, every chord strum, and every drumbeat, but don’t know a single word of lyrics. What the heck is he saying?” After some research and a few sing-alongs later, I am now more interested in the lyrics than in the music!
Frusciante has been through a lot in his life. When I say he’s been through a lot, I mean he’s been through a lot. No wonder he is able to write so much and tell so many stories, meanwhile I’m writing songs about stubbing toes and running out of gas (that part isn’t true, by the way). This album is a summation of his fall and his recovery, his doubts and his faith, his end and his beginning, his physical life and his spiritual one. The lyrics to this song are absolutely remarkable, and focus on his faith and personal relationship with God, or at least with a Higher Power greater than ourselves. I am in awe of the raw emotion he portrays and his passion in his voice. As a listener, I feel like I know his whole life’s story in this album. I literally just want to hug him and tell him everything is ok after I hear this album.
“The Empyrean” features amazing lyrics about many relatable aspects of our lives, most importantly struggle and recovery. The song “Unreachable” can be interpreted in so many different ways, which is another reason why Frusciante is a genius. My favorite lyrics are near the end of the song, and remind me to never give up on my goals:
“Reach into the darkness for what you can find / Travel great distance in your mind / The world gets stronger as you start trying / Things turn around towards being born away from dying / I’ve lost my kin / There’s no one on my side / Were we to disappear / Well I know I tried, you know we tried, you know we tried” (source)
Another amazing song is “God,” which obviously is about God, and is written in His perspective. My favorite lyric is also near the end, showing His love to each and every one of us:
“People, you blaspheme my name / But still I love you, still I love you / I love you just the same … The reason for the bad is so that there’d be such things as good / Oh I’d do anything for you, you all know I would” (source)
Here I am devoting an entire post to the lyrics of a song, and barely expanded on the actual music behind it. Past-Keno would have called you crazy if you told him. I could literally devote an entire post to each song’s lyrics, and then again devote an entire post to the music behind each set of lyrics. This album is packed with raw emotion, thoughtful lyrics, and a supporting band that perfectly portrays the listener’s feelings, from tugging on your heartstrings to rejoicing in how wonderful life really is. I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this album to anyone, period. It’s intelligent, it’s catchy, it’s emotional, it’s uplifting, it’s perfect. Please support John Frusciante in listening to this amazing album. I guarantee you that you’ll be moved.