Red Hot Chili Peppers: Dani California Meaning
Song Released: 2006
Dani California Lyrics
PAPA WAS A COPPER
AND MAMA WAS A HIPPIE
IN ALABAMA SHE WOULD SWING A HAMMER
PRICE YOU GOT TO PAY WHEN YOU BREAK THE PANORAMA
SHE NEVER KNEW THAT THERE WAS
ANYTHING MORE THAN POOR
WHAT IN THE...
anonymous May 15th, 2006 5:56pm report
I don't think you guys really understand the lyrics!! ha
The song is about a friend of Anthony Kiedis', a girl named dani, who commited suicide.
She lived a crazy life: was pregnant as a teen, robbed banks, was a prostitute, did drugs, was poor her entire life.
She was such a wild child because of what the world has turned into.
Because California is a trend setting city and is becoming such a bad place (Californication).
Anthony knows what a great person she could have been if she wasn't born into such a cruel world.
He fell in love with her after her suicide and fell that much further from love with society, "simultanious release"....or that is just a sexual refrence..ha
Anthony knows "what others have died to proove" and this song is a simple tribute to his friend dani and he is singing about how she won't be lost and a lesson will be learned from her life.
That lesson is preached by Anthony (society's priest) in the song DANI CALIFORNIA
styk2dafacts May 31st, 2006 5:53pm report
Actually anonymous, I was watching an interview of the Red Hot Chili Peppers on MTV, and they asked them if the song was about a factual character. They said that Dani California is in fact, not a real person, that they sometimes need a fictional character to muse them. So all that about it being anthony's friend is not true, because he said it himself!
anonymous Jun 12th, 2006 6:02pm report
Whether or not the song is about a real person seems rather trivial. Dani could be a real girl or she could be a compilation of many girls. The underlying fact still remains the same. They society today is in bad shape. Many girls do get pregnant too early, do drugs, etc. California was chosen because it seems to be the center of it all. With hollywood and other rich areas that get a lot of media coverage, we tend to see a lot of stories about drug overdoses, people getting pregnant, the list goes on.
I think the fact that he names a lot of cities can have a few meanings. If it based on a real person (emphasis on IF), then they may have been the actual places. By naming a variety of places from the south to the north, he makes it seem like a national problem, which is it.
The multiple gun references show that her lifestyle is going to kill her. The "mourn ya" line also shows this. Suicide does make sense, given the girl and the point they are conveying.
Just a question. Does anyone know what bands are in the video? I get the one is Nirvana doing "All Apologies" (the part with the candles). The last part looked like Green Day (the part where he has a red and black tie on). The earlier ones I am not sure about.
The video reminded me a lot of the video for "1985" by Bowling for Soup, though that one stopped in the 1980's...go figure!
anonymous Dec 21st, 12:35am report
Theme + Topic are much alike Tom Pettys "last dance with mary jane". The chords as well are all the same.
anonymous Feb 5th, 2018 2:26pm report
I think you guys are thinking a little too much. Now it definitely goes into more depth and would love to hear just exactly what every line means or refers to from Anthony, but it's the obvious is he's talking about a girl who is a badass and an outlaw, who grew up a thug and was obviously very brave. Character could be real or fiction
anonymous Dec 18th, 2014 12:28am report
I Think the song is about one of Anthony's (lead singer) past girlfriends that committed suicide and how Anthony is trying to get over her, but still thinks about her, and her family, all the time, so he just looks back.
anonymous Nov 30th, 2012 11:03am report
well i have a different interpretation. i mean, i don't think it's only about the life of a girl, it's about society and bad dreams. she wasn't a rich girl, she was, as you could say, young, broke and talented. i don't think it's only about a criminal, but about this type of girls who have big dreams of "californication" and how they end, i don't think the song wants to say that she died, but that her dreams of california died. or, "her death" may mean the end of her summer love story with the voice (the singer).
anonymous Aug 23rd, 2012 8:12am report
I like so many of the interpretations here :) I won't simply repeat what others have said but I have something to add.This is not the first time that California has been targetted by the RHCP.The song "Californication" shows the dark side of California and Hollywood. Kiedis has hateful feelings to a certain extent towards the place because of what he was exposed to as a child. His father was a big star in Hollywood who father took drugs and dealt them to rock stars. Anthony Kiedis was exposed all this at an age as young as 11, his father even gave him drugs when he was this young. His father was a poor role model.He even helped Anthony lose his virginity at age 12 by "lending" him his 18 year old girlfriend. I was pretty appauled when I read about that,I can't understand why she agreed to have sex with a child.
My point is that as a result of his fathers bad parenting and mixing with drug addicts in hollywood at such a young age, messed him up a little. Perhaps his personal experience is why he uses California as an example of a bad place in two songs.It seems to be the centre of social problems like drugs promiscuity and crime. Anthony Kiedis went on to have severe drug addiction and I doubt that his fathers idea to let him borrow the girlfriend for the night taught him much respect for women. It probably instilled in him an idea that they are objects that can be passed around from man to man.
Yeah so I reckon he has spiteful feelings towards the place because of his childhood/teenage years where he lived there with his father.
I notice in the last lines of the chorus it says "she's my priestess" referring to the fictional character Dani and he is saying that he has created this character to show the harm todays society can do, it is a preaching of how one's life can go horribly wrong and therefore Dani is the preacher (she represents many young women).
The line "I'm your priest" I interpret as so. He is using his own mistakes as another example. He is using himself to show how damaging messages in our society and the media can be. He and preaching us not to make the same mistakes he did (drugs etc)and asking us to listen to Dani's story and his own life story in order to stay away from temptations in this modern age. If we do then the next generation will arrive in a better,safer and more loving environment. Poor Anthony was unfortunately denied this priviledge, his father loved him I'm sure but he had a strange way of showing it.
anonymous Jul 14th, 2012 7:30pm report
Honestly, I can't help but think of Jenny from Forest Gump when I hear this song. And from what I'm reading I'm not too far off!
anonymous Apr 17th, 2012 4:42pm report
my dad was their manager for a while. i met all of them and have all their autographs. therefore, you can believe me that the #1 answer is correct.
anonymous Nov 13th, 2011 11:47am report
I agree with the first comment. This is what the song is about. The lyric 'It only hurts when I laugh, gone too fast' is about a person who comitted suicide. If you notice the music video, the part where they're dressed up like Nirvana is the part with this lyric. I think this is not a coincidence.
anonymous Feb 4th, 2011 2:10pm report
Hi (: well I was just wondering, I have looked through many peppers interviews but I can't find the one where Anthony talks about how Dani California is based around most women that he's ever met... I found that fact out on youtube and some of you have confirmed this, but can't someone post a link for the interview? Thanks RHC Pepper fans ;) x
anonymous Mar 2nd, 2010 3:04pm report
Something that struck me the first time that I listened to it was the repeated use of death throughout the song. Yes, granted, it is almost certainly meant in a literal manner, given that the 'story' of the song is about a fictional character who (what do you know?) ends up dying.
However, it adds a very interesting layer to consider that there was a time when 'to die' was a commonly recognized euphemism for 'to achieve sexual climax'. In the refrain in particular, this additional meaning seems appropriate, most notably since it's backed up immediately by the 'Simultaneous release' line.
But yes. I agree that the RHCP's use of creative cadence and rhyming schemes often ends up with lyrics that are mildly confusing and often open to a vast array of interpretation. But that's part of what makes them so brilliant. It's the same thing with literature. It's not the books that are a simple, hard-cut story of one single thing that are considered great, but rather the ones which have many many layers of meaning - the ones that readers debate about for years afterwards - that ultimately end up being considered classics.
anonymous Feb 15th, 2010 2:35pm report
in addition to what i said above. the song speaks of going from Indiana then California which is what the People's Temple or Jonestown cult did.
I also meant 'song' not 'son' by the way
anonymous Feb 15th, 2010 2:32pm report
In relation to the interpretation above, the songs speaks of Indiana and then California, which is the progression that the peoples temple (jonestown) cult went through
anonymous Feb 15th, 2010 2:30pm report
is there not a theory that she ends up representing a member of the Jonestown mass suicide cult; led by Jim Jones?
that would seems to make sense when it talks of others dying and also with the priestess and priest idea, I realise that there is not specific person named Dani but a character that developed over a number of sons.
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