|Single by Blink-182|
|from the album Enema of the State|
|Released||September 5, 2000|
|Blink-182 singles chronology|
"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 "mature" songs. 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 survivor of the Columbine High School massacre committed suicide as the song played on repeat.
Background and recording
|"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"|
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 influences NOFX and Social Distortion. 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. "When we did our longest tour stretch, it was right when I started dating my fiancee," recalled 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."
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. 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." In addition, the song was inspired by an article about a teenager's suicide and the note he left for his parents. When Hoppus brought the song to the band, the trio reacted positively, considering it excellent although very dark. 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. The song makes a reference to "Come as You Are" by Nirvana, which includes the lyric "Take your time, hurry up, the choice is yours, don't be late." "Adam's Song," in turn, includes the lyric "I took my time, I hurried up, The choice was mine, I didn't think enough." It was one of the final songs the group completed, and nearly did not make it on the album.
Internet rumors circulated that the song was inspired by a letter, possibly from a fan, that Hoppus had read. 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. 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. 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.
An alternative rock song, Adam's Song is a departure from the humorous pop punk of the band's previous singles, in favor of a slower tempo and more depressing lyrics. 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. 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. 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. "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." The snare is hit on beats two and four, respectively.
"Adam's Song" was generally considered one of the band's first "mature" songs, one that predates their later experimentation. Richard Harrington of The Washington Post deemed the song "a powerful exploration of exhaustion and depression." "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. "The resulting chorus achieves an arena-worthy feel not achieved anywhere else on Enema of the State."
The song caused a stir in 2000 when it was set to replay indefinitely on a nearby stereo as 17-year-old Greg Barnes, a survivor of the Columbine High School massacre, hung himself in the garage of his family's home. Hoppus later told MTV that the story shocked and saddened him, attempting to reclarify the song's thesis: "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."
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. "That really, really is great," he said. "I think that was one of the greatest moments ever in my life."
All songs written and composed by Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge and arranged by Blink-182.
|Adam's Song CD Single|
|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|
|1.||"Man Overboard" (Music video)||3:03|
|2.||"Adam's Song" (Music video)||4:22|
|Canada Alternative 30 (RPM)||20|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||11|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||39|
|US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)||1|
|US Hot Modern Rock Tracks (Billboard)||2|
|US Rock Digital Songs (Billboard)||38|
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- Barker, Travis; Edwards, Gavin (2015). Can I Say: Living Large, Cheating Death, and Drums, Drums, Drums. William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-062-31942-5.