July 23, 2013 in Tips & Lessons

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Scar Tissue

californicationCalifornication was a turning-point album for Red Hot Chili Peppers. It marked the return of guitarist John Frusciante and a change in the band’s sound and style. The album contained a variety of themes, such as lust, death, suicide, drugs, travel, globalization, and California. One of the most successful songs on Californication was Scar Tissue.

About the Song

Scar Tissue was written by frontman Anthony Kiedis during guitarist John Frusciante’s return to the band. Frusciante had left the Chili Peppers in 1992 when he became uncomfortable with the bands epic success. In 1998, the Chili Peppers were coming off a huge disappointment from their album One Last Minute, which failed to live up to its predecessor, Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

The band was on the verge of breaking up and actually fired guitarist Dave Navarro. Flea, the groups iconic bass player, told Kiedis that the only way he could see the band continuing is if they brought back the newly sober Frusciante.

Kiedis says that the song is about his own battles with addiction as well as the internal struggles of the band. The “sarcastic mister know-it-all” in the song was directed at Dave Navarro. The line “make it to the moon if I have to crawl” is Kiedis’ reference to his own heroin addiction.

The lyrics for Scar Tissue came to Kiedis at a precise moment while the other band members were playing. He said he felt as if an exterior force had merged the melody he heard and the words spontaneously came to him.

Scar Tissue is considered the main symbolic song that represents the band’s new, more melodic rock sound on the Californication album, which was released in 1999.

The Music Video

The music video for Scar Tissue was directed by Stephane Sednaoui, who also directed the videos for Give It Away and Around the World.

The video opens with John Frusciante driving, which symbolizes his return to the band. All four band members are battered, wounded, and bandaged. They are driving in a 1967 Pontiac Catalina convertible. This is meant to represent the band’s comeback.

How To Play It

The entire song is based on an F – C – Dm chord progression and that is basically all there is to this one. Of course, John Frusciante wouldn’t just play the simple open chords. He uses a really cool variation on the barre chords that is explained well in the video below. It isn’t something that we see a lot of, but it isn’t extremely difficult either.

The toughest part of this song comes from the picking. Once you figure out the chord progression, the only challenge is to pick the right strings and avoid picking the wrong strings.

This song is a good example of why watching a video to learn a song is superior to learning from a tab. If you are just looking at the tab, you will be able to make up your own way to play the intro riff, but when you have to switch to playing the barre chords, you’ll be lost. Learning this song the way the video below teaches it prepares you to play the whole song from the beginning.


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