Red Hot Chili Peppers: Dani California Meaning
Song Released: 2006
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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...
1TOP RATED#1 top rated interpretation:anonymous May 15th 2006 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
2TOP RATED#2 top rated interpretation:anonymous Aug 23rd 2012 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.
3TOP RATED#3 top rated interpretation:
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 Mar 20th 2022 report
People seem to be trying to make Dani out to be one person who did all these various things. They forget that Dani is a culmination of women that the writer has been involved with. The mention of Dani in various songs is obviously different people with different circumstances. The Dani in Scar Tissue obviously commited suicide in a bathroom stall. The one in Californication was pregnant and getting high. The one in Dani California was certainly shot to death in Minnesota by a North Dakota lawman. To understand Dani you have to look at her as different people in different songs with the same moniker.
anonymous Aug 23rd 2021 report
I doubt the song is about a real person, but it is a song about a gal named Dani California (remember, "her mama was a hippie" - they often gave their kids names accordingly. Probably mama always dreamed of going to California, or came from there).
Dani California grew up poor, moving from MS to AL to LA & then all over, doing menial jobs, but mostly robbing people at gunpoint to survive. People who do that often end up "looking down the barrel of a hot metal 45" at some point, themselves. In this case, she robbed a bank in Indiana and got on a "Wanted list". Chased by a bounty hunter looking to meet a quota, she was eventually cornered in the ND Badlands on the way to MN and died in a gunfight.
The writer describes her as a "lover, baby, and a fighter", "runner, rebel, and a stunner". To others she appeared a rebel, fighter, and a runner who fearlessly did what she needed to survive, including robbing banks at gunpoint, but he knew another side - she was pretty, his lover, could be a baby, and had a soft side as well as a hard side. They loved each other. He worshipped her and she worshipped him - "she's my priestess, I'm her priest". He wasn't prepared for what happened to her, even though he said he should have known that eventually she was going to meet a bad end because of the way she lived.
I don't think simultaneous release has anything to do with sex; I think it refers more to a simultaneous release of the body and spirit at death, perhaps a release of her pain and hard way of life at the same time. And maybe also a release of he himself, of his fear and worry of what could/would eventually happen to her. But he still mourns her, he loved her. She was "gone too soon" because she was young and had her life ahead of her. He hadn't spent enough time with her.
Anyway, that's my take on it.
anonymous Jan 9th 2020 report
The answer to this and so many questions is yes.. When an artist puts work TwoGether like that.. The words mean infinate truth.. Meaning more than one of you are correct.. Is about a girl, the state of California, the world we live in, and the abuse society puts women thru.. He is just telling it thru his experiences.. And yes the 'Spiritual Message' is behind everything REAL ARTIST put out!!
anonymous May 20th 2019 report
She is a real girl who left California..hence California rest in peace..She will not be back...simultaneous release..both saying good-bye...There would be a time when I was gonna mourn ya...He knew she was going to leave...she would break the panorama...
He writes about his connection to her in multiple songs...and she has played songs for him beneath the marquee of her soul...She is an artist...
anonymous Dec 21st 2018 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 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 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 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 Jul 14th 2012 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 Nov 13th 2011 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 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 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 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
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