Yesterday it was announced that the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be playing their first ever show in Israel. As a young gap year student in Israel back in 2001, I recall the country’s zealous excitement when the California funk-turned-alternative-turned-legacy act announced their first show that year, a show they later canceled at the 11th hour as the Second Intifada intensified.
Long-time fans and/or Behind the Music aficionados know the band’s history was significantly shaped by Israeli-born Hillel Slovak, their first guitarist. Slovak’s 1988 death (he OD’d) fractured the band; the core of Anthony Kiedis (vocals), Flea (bass), and Chad Smith (drums) has gone through a revolving door of replacement guitarists in their nearly 30 years on the scene.
The band has persevered despite countless battles with drug addiction, reaching worldwide fame: Grammy wins (7), platinum albums (5), and $105(!) tickets for their Israeli debut. The show in Tel Aviv next September will be in support of the band’s 10th studio album, I’m With You. In honor of this occasion, a suggested setlist:
• “True Men Don’t Kill Coyotes”: Prescient given Rick Perry’s coyote-killin’ story from the campaign trail this year, this 1984 song, the first track of their first album, also befits Israel, a country that has one of the most robust animal rights lobbies in the world.
• The album Mother’s Milk in its entirety: reasons should be obvious.
• The entire album Blood Sugar Sex Magik also deserves a nod because (1) it’s a phenomenal album that launched the Chili Peppers into ubiquity and (2) it was produced by Rick Rubin. But since the album is over an hour long, we’ll break it into the most appropriate of singles:
–“Give It Away”: The unilateral withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza continue to incite scorn among Israelis who have seen nothing but short-term goodwill and long-term rocket fire as a result of giving territory away. The other paradigm is the landmark 1979 treaty in which Israel gave the Sinai back to Egypt, a move that buoyed the two countries as neighbors at peace. We’ll see what the forthcoming government of Egypt has to say about that.
–“I Could Have Lied”: As just about everyone did.
–“The Righteous and the Wicked”: How Biblical can you get?
• “Scar Tissue”: Israel has the world’s highest concentration of migrating birds (“With the birds I’ll share this lonely view”).
• “This Is the Place”: In this song off 2002’s By The Way, Kiedis, looking back, laments missing Slovak’s funeral because he was strung out: “On the day my best friend died/I could not get my copper clean.”
• “Can’t Stop”: In reference to the unchecked building of settlements in the West Bank, rubber-stamped by Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition. Encore!
Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.