Biographies (memoirs) can be a sordid affair. Some become melodramatic and erroneous representations of a particular personality, while others merely become self-indulgent love fests informing the reader about the individual in question’s great accomplishments. How can one judge a particularly important piece of work that is true to itself and pulls no punches in its stories (no matter how negative they may be)?
In 2004, Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, released his memoirs to the world. The writer of this article has respected the band’s music but has never been an avid fan of it. It was always entertaining and enjoyable but utterly forgettable afterwards. However, after purchasing and reading the stories that have inspired the music produced by the band, this writer now has a new found respect for the Chili Peppers and its members. It is truly that powerful of a story.
It is not easy to expose oneself to the magnifying glass that is the world. To admit to mistakes and understand that one is far from perfect is a courageous and heroic feat to take on. Many are secretive about the choices and challenges that have molded them into who they are today. As a result, they shy away from any negative situation that may result in admitting to the vices that have controlled them as individuals.
Anthony Kiedis understands that even the worst choices in life eventually lead to the formation of who one becomes. Scar Tissue is a raw, frank, candid, unsettling yet uplifting portrait of an individual who has had to struggle his entire life to break free of the ties that bind.
Scar Tissue follows the life of Kiedis, born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, but raised in the land that is Hollywood. From an early age, Anthony becomes introduced to the drug and sex culture that is now an iconic image of Los Angeles. Kiedis (along with co-writer Larry Sloman) graphically depicts how an impressionable young boy becomes corrupted by the influences that surround him. As time marches on, Anthony finds himself further drawn into this world that only desires to rob life of meaning.
Kiedis remains unbiased throughout his stories (even if it negatively portrays him). He explains the feelings and desires that accompany drug use and how euphoric it truly can be. But, as well, he also explains how corrupt and truly wasteful and meaningless this life is. He restrains himself from taking sides and merely expresses how it actually is.
The book truly becomes an inspiring account of how his attempts to overcome his battles eventually begin to negatively affect his role as a musician. In all honesty, it is definitely saddening at times for the reader to learn of the behavior that has controlled him for so many years. As mentioned before, the book does not shy away from details, and it seems that Anthony is perfectly acceptable with providing a play by play of the history of his life (no matter how tragic it may be at times).
The Life of a Red Hot Chili Pepper
The book is well over 400 pages, but it does not feel lengthy in any way. It is an absorbing piece of history to take in and it becomes quite difficult to simply put the book down. One just wants to continue on reading. It focuses on everything possible about his life (which is remarkable that he is able to remember it all) from his drug addiction to his work and problems with the band to the women in his life to the family and friends that support him, even if he may not support himself at all times.
There is something to be said about a man who does not mind becoming intimate with the public. In a celebrity obsessed culture, many may shy away from personal details about ones own trials and tribulations. However, Anthony is candid and personal which truly draws the reader in. Even if one is not a fan of the Chili Peppers brand of music they will still enjoy the read. It is an inspirational book to be shared by everyone. Words are just words and music is just music, but when one discovers the stories behind it all, the words and music take on new meaning, and that is certainly what occurs as a result of this memoir.