The Red Hot Chili Peppers have never lacked for drama. The pop-funk troupe has been around since the 1980s, and it’s now one of music’s most popular band of borderline geriatrics this side of U2. But while Bono, Edge et al have been steadfastly plying philosophical and spiritual waters with their lyrics and actions for decades, the Chili Peppers’ history has the vibe of a television soap opera, filled with internal division, drug abuse, death and an ever-evolving cast of characters. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer became the latest midseason player to join the cast, replacing John Frusciante in 2009.
The only thing that’s really been missing from the Peppers’ résumé as of late has been—well, music. Before this summer, the band hadn’t released a new studio album since the Grammy-winning Stadium Arcadium in 2006. They’d not had a song land on Billboard’s bevy of charts since 2007’s “Hump de Bump.”
That makes “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie” kinda special for Peppers fans—and well worth examining a little more closely. According to lead singer Anthony Kiedis, the song was built around bandmate Flea’s infectious bassline and organically grew from there. The lyrics, he tells MTV, are “just a collection of memories and people along the way that had maybe left my consciousness until I heard that music, and then they kind of came dancing back into my consciousness.”
What tawdry memories they appear to be.
Some may scratch their heads over the song’s exact meaning (fans have suggested it’s a love song to them, or some sort of attempt to lyrically bridge the ethos of the old Chili Peppers with the new), but the lyrics are far more suggestive of something else: sex. In my reading, Maggie would seem to be a groupie, and references to “who said three is a crowd?” and an obscene reference to intercourse confirm my conclusion.
If there’s some profound, deeper meaning, I’m at a loss to uncover it. And that being the case, I’m left to the mercy of a chorus that’s filthy with double entendres: In context, Maggie’s “rain dance” becomes a stand-in for sex itself, with her “cloud” and ability to make it “rain” not exactly reading like a weather report.
Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.