Adam's Song

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"Adam's Song"
Single by Blink-182
from the album Enema of the State
Released September 5, 2000 (2000-09-05)
Format CD single, DVD
Recorded January–February 1999
Genre Alternative rock, pop punk
Length 4:09
Label MCA
Writer(s) Mark Hoppus, Tom DeLonge
Producer(s) Jerry Finn
Blink-182 singles chronology
"All the Small Things"
(2000)
"Adam's Song"
(2000)
"Man Overboard"
(2000)

"Adam's Song" is a song by the American rock band Blink-182, released on September 5, 2000 as the third and final single from the group's third studio album, Enema of the State (1999). Primarily composed by bassist Mark Hoppus, the song concerns suicide and depression. It was inspired by extended periods of touring in support of the band's previous album, Dude Ranch (1997), during a time in which Hoppus was single. Internet rumors suggested the song was inspired by a fan's suicide, or the play Adam's Letter.

Following lighthearted previous singles, "Adam's Song" represented a change of pace for the band, and was regarded as one of their first songs that are considered mature. It received positive reviews from contemporary music critics, who considered it one of the highlights of Enema of the State. The song peaked at number two on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart, and also was a top 20 hit in Canada and Germany. The song also created controversy when a person who went to Columbine High School's best friend committed suicide as the song played on repeat.

Background, lyrics, writing and recording[edit]

"Tom and Travis always had girlfriends waiting back home, so they had something to look forward to at the end of the tour. But I didn’t, so it was always like, I was lonely on tour, but then I got home and it didn’t matter because there was nothing there for me anyway."

Mark Hoppus, reflecting on writing "Adam's Song"[1]

Beginning in the summer of 1997, Blink-182 would enter an extended period of touring to support their second studio album, Dude Ranch. The group had played a handful of dates on the Vans Warped Tour 1996, a lifestyle tour promoting skateboarding and punk rock music. However, upon Dude Ranch's release and popularity, Blink-182 would play every date of the 1997 tour worldwide with the bands NOFX and Social Distortion.[2] In late 1997 and early 1998, the band would be on the road for nine months straight, only coming home to San Diego for days at a time before striking out on the next tour.[3] "When we did our longest tour stretch, it was right when I started dating my fiancee," recalled former Blink-182 singer/guitarist Tom DeLonge. "We were all new and in love, and I had to leave. It was just, 'Hey, I'll see you in nine months.' It was really hard."[4]

Mark Hoppus penned "Adam's Song" to vent these frustrations and the loneliness he experienced on the tour; while the other members had longtime girlfriends to return home to, Hoppus was single.[5] Mark Hoppus said “When you’re on tour, you’re so lonely,” Hoppus explained. “You hang out with all your bros and it’s a great time and everything, but everybody wants to come home and have a girlfriend. And every time we’d fly home, [singer/guitarist] Tom [DeLonge] and [former drummer] Scott [Raynor] always had girlfriends waiting for them at the airport, and I didn’t. It’s about me being depressed and lonely out on tour, and not really having anything to come home to.”[6] The couplet "I couldn’t wait til I got home/To pass the time in my room alone" originally ended "to get off the plane alone."[1] In addition, the song was inspired by a person's suicide and the note he left for his parents.[7] The song is said to be based on a letter from a Blink-182 fan who survived a suicide attempt.[8] When he was speaking about what "Adam's Song" is about, Tom Delonge said:

"The story behind that is Mark read a letter someone sent him as an email, that a kid wrote before he committed suicide to his parents. We kind of got together and wrote this sad, slow song. It came out sadder than we ever thought it would, which is good too. Any song that moves you is good."[9]

Mark Hoppus told interviewers he received fan mail following the song’s release from fans that had contemplated suicide, but decided not to go through with after hearing the song.[10] "That really, really is great," he said. "I think that was one of the greatest moments ever in my life."[10] When Mark Hoppus showed "Adam's Song" to Tom Delonge and Travis Barker, they expressed appreciation towards the song. Hoppus said:

"I remember the day I played ["Adam's Song"] for Tom and Travis, and they were like, "Wow, that's a pretty heavy song. It's really good." [There] was never even a question of whether or not to put it on the record, or was that a "real" Blink song, or was that the right direction for us to go. Whatever song we write, if it's a good song, we'll put it on the record. If we wanted to write a song about -- I don't know, people starving somewhere, we would."[11]

Although usually vocals would take many alternate takes to complete, Hoppus completed much of the vocal track for "Adam's Song" in a single take.[12]

"Adam's Song" includes a reference to "Come as You Are" by Nirvana. "Come as You Are" by Nirvana includes the lyrics "Take your time, hurry up, the choice is yours, don't be late". "Adam's Song", in turn, includes the lyrics "I took my time, I hurried up, The choice was mine, I didn't think enough".[13] "Adam's Song" nearly did not make it onto Enema of the State.[12]

Internet rumors circulated that the song was inspired by a letter, possibly from a fan, that Hoppus had read.[14] Other online theories included that the song was inspired by a friend from Hoppus' high school years who committed suicide, or a play titled Adam's Letter that has the same focus as the song.[14] A fictional suicide note, which was a part of the script for Adam's Letter, circulated online at the time of the song’s release. "The naming of the central character was a coincidence […] I had no knowledge of Blink-182 or their music at that time," remarked John Cosper, the writer behind Adam's Letter.[14] According to Barker, the song's title stems from a Mr. Show sketch in which a band writes a song encouraging a fan to commit suicide.[15]

Composition[edit]

Categorized as alternative rock[16] and pop punk,[17] "Adam's Song" is a departure from the content of the band's previous singles, in favor of a slower tempo and more depressing lyrics.[6] Brian Wallace of MTV said that Blink-182 "explores new ground on “Adam’s Song,” setting aside their normal pop-punk punch for a more emo-influenced approach."[18] The song is composed in the key of C major and is set in time signature of common time with a tempo of 136 beats per minute. Hoppus' vocal range spans from G3 to G4.[19] Barker's drum track was labeled by Drummerworld as "one of the most creative beats of his career," and mainly consists of the same basic beat repeated in sections throughout the verses.[20] The first measure begins with the kick drum and Splash cymbal playing on the downbeat, followed by a hit on the bell of the ride cymbal on beat two, preceding an open hi-hat that rings out for a full count on beat three.[20] "The kick, snare, and floor tom are all hit simultaneously on beat four, followed by floor tom hits on the last two sixteenth-note triplets of beat four."[20] The snare is hit on beats two and four, respectively.[20] The song is known for featuring piano.[18]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

"Adam's Song" is generally considered one of the band's first mature songs, one that predates their later experimentation.[21] Richard Harrington of The Washington Post deemed the song "a powerful exploration of exhaustion and depression."[8] "Stylistically, it's also a Blink breakthrough: rather than putting their heads down and plowing through at breakneck speed, the band dials back the verses and interludes to let them breathe a bit," wrote Chris Payne of Billboard.[21] "The resulting chorus achieves an arena-worthy feel not achieved anywhere else on Enema of the State."[21]

Controversy[edit]

The song caused a controversy in 2000 when it was set to replay indefinitely on a nearby stereo as 17-year-old Greg Barnes, a person who went to Columbine High School and lost one of his best friends, hanged himself in the garage of his family's home.[22][23] In an interview, Mark Hoppus said about the suicide of Greg Barnes:

"I was actually out shopping, and management called me up and told me the story of what happened, and I was like, "But that's an anti-suicide song!" It felt awful. I mean, the things that the kid had had to go through in his life were very saddening, and then to end it that way was really depressing."[11][24]

Mark Hoppus also said "But "Adam's Song", the heart of the song is about having hard times in your life, being depressed, and going through a difficult period, but then finding the strength to go on and finding a better place at the other side of that."[11][24]

Music video, live performances and use in popular culture[edit]

The song's music video was directed by Liz Friedlander[14] and debuted on MTV's Total Request Live.[25] In 2015, a mashup combining "Adam's Song" with "Hotline Bling" by Drake. Called "Hotline Blink", the mashup received a positive review from Loren DiBlasi of MTV, who called the mashup "hip-hop-meets-pop-punk-nostalgia" and wrote "Trust us, you’ll want to watch again and again and again."[26] In an article about the mashup, Tyler Sharp of Alternative Press wrote "In a bizarre, unexpected way, the result is tolerable—maybe even enjoyable?"[27] Blink-182's bassist Mark Hoppus posted on Reddit that "Adam's Song" is "too hard" to perform and may be permanently retired from the band's set list.[28]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge and arranged by Blink-182

Adam's Song CD Single
No. Title Length
1. "Adam's Song" (Radio edit) 3:35
2. "Going Away to College" (Live) 3:46
3. "Adam's Song" (Live) 4:53
4. "Wendy Clear" (Live) 2:47
Adam's Song Single DVD
No. Title Length
1. "Man Overboard" (Music video) 3:03
2. "Adam's Song" (Music video) 4:22

Chart positions[edit]

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2000) Peak
position
Canada Alternative 30 (RPM)[29] 20
Germany (Official German Charts)[30] 98
Italy (FIMI)[31] 21
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[32] 39
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[33] 1
US Hot Modern Rock Tracks (Billboard)[34] 2
US Rock Digital Songs (Billboard)[35] 38

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Edwards, Gavins (August 3, 2000). "The Half Naked Truth About Blink-182". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 18, 2012. 
  2. ^ Hoppus 2001, p. 79.
  3. ^ Hoppus 2001, p. 80.
  4. ^ Hoppus 2001, p. 81.
  5. ^ Hoppus 2001, p. 83.
  6. ^ a b Mark Woodlief. "Blink-182 Slow Down Tempo, Speed Up Charts". MTV News. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  7. ^ Hoppus, Mark (2000). Blink-182: The Mark Tom and Travis Show 2000 Official Program. MCA Records. p. 14. 
  8. ^ a b Richard Harrington (June 11, 2004). "Seriously, Blink-182 Is Growing Up". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 25, 2014. 
  9. ^ Nancy Schimelpfening. "Songs About Suicide". Depression.about.com. 
  10. ^ a b Shooman 2010, p. 77.
  11. ^ a b c "blink–182:enema of the stage". MTV. 
  12. ^ a b "Blink-182: Inside Enema". Kerrang! (1586): 24–25. September 16, 2015. 
  13. ^ Korina Lopez, David Oliver (April 9, 2014). "How Nirvana begat Lil Wayne ... and Demi Lovato?". USA Today. 
  14. ^ a b c d Shooman 2010, p. 76.
  15. ^ Barker, Travis; Edwards, Gavin (2015). Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums. William Morrow. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-062-31942-5. 
  16. ^ Michael Gallucci. "Top 10 Alt-Rock Videos From 2000". Diffuser.fm. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 
  17. ^ "Blink 182 Tickets". StubHub!. In 1999, Blink-182 released Enema of the State, which spawned some of the greatest pop punk anthems of all time, such as "Adam's Song," "What's My Age Again," and "All the Small Things." 
  18. ^ a b Wallace, Brian (June 21, 1999). "Blink-182 Clean Up Their Act On New LP". MTV. 
  19. ^ "Blink-182 "Adam's Song" Guitar Tab". Music Notes. EMI Music Publishing. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c d Rich Lackowski. "Transcription of "Adam's Song" from Enema of the State". Drummerworld.com. Retrieved February 24, 2014. 
  21. ^ a b c Payne, Chris (May 30, 2014). "Blink-182's 'Enema of the State' at 15: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  22. ^ "Athlete's Suicide Shocks Columbine". St. Petersburg Times. May 6, 2000. Retrieved July 6, 2013. 
  23. ^ David Ollinger, Neil H. Devlin, Karen Auge�, Marilyn Robinson. "Song only clue to student's despair". The Denver Post. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Percy Ednalino (June 29, 2000). "Song linked to suicide on playlist". The Denver Post. 
  25. ^ Mancini, Rob (March 7, 2000). "Blink-182 Preps New Tour, Video". MTV. 
  26. ^ Loren DiBlasi (December 3, 2015). "Drake Meets Blink-182 In This Life-Changing ‘Hotline Blink’ Mashup". MTV. 
  27. ^ Tyler Sharp (November 30, 2015). "This is what happens when you mix Blink-182 and Drake". Alternative Press. 
  28. ^ Jordan Bassett (November 26, 2015). "Everything We Learned From Blink-182's AMA On Reddit". NME. 
  29. ^ RPM (June 12, 2000). "RPM Alternative 30 Chart - Rock/Alternative - Volume 71, No. 6, June 12 2000" (PDF). RPM archives. (Ottawa: Library and Archives Canada). Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  30. ^ "Blink-182 Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  31. ^ "blink-182 - Chart history". Billboard. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]