A tribute to Adam's song, four minutes and eight seconds of depression, loneliness and hope
Mark Hoppus, Travis Barker and Tom DeLonge of Blink 182 on the cover of their hit single Adam’s Song (Photo: Liz Friedman)
Some songs just stick with you from the moment you hear the opening lyrics, they resonate with you and make you feel emotions you may have never felt. In some cases it can help dictate the direction in which your life can go.
These are the songs that take you from the lowest of lows to a place of happiness and warmth, turning a bad moment into a vitriolic one.
For me, that was the appropriately named Adam’s Song by Blink 182.
Now with songs such as Dick Lips, Happy Holidays You Bastard and Some Emo Shit, you wouldn’t expect Blink to be the sentimental, deep-thinking type. You would be wrong with that assumption whatsoever when the core elements of their discography are high-paced, easy listening ska-punk which dominated the airwaves circa 1999.
Conveniently the peak of pop-punk directly aligned with Blinks’, leading them to become the global megastars they are today. Coming off the massive success of their second album Dude Ranch in 1997, their third titled, Enema of the State, with the name it possessed was expected to be even bigger in terms of popularity. It was, with the album going platinum in five countries plus Europe as a whole.
To sum up the albums feel I’ll leave it to the New Yorker's Nitsuh Abebe, who said the album consisted of "green grass, sun, swimming pools, teen boys obsessed with and mildly terrified by sex, jokes about having sex with things that are not other humans, and a healthy side of toilet-oriented gags".
But track seven was different, nestled between Dysentery Gary and the band’s megahit, All the Small Things, Adam's Song was different… It was melancholic, tuned down, and depressing - unlike anything the band had released beforehand. It wasn't a song that celebrated or laughed at the events of life; rather for much of the song's length it speaks of detesting everything within it.
Adam's Song begins with the story of someone who is done with life, wanting to lock themselves in their room and see out the rest of their days alone away from everybody who loves them. The scene is set from the opening stanza with the lyrics: "I never thought I'd die alone, I laughed the loudest, who'd have known?".
This section echoes the wise words of the late Robin Williams who said "I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy, because they know what it’s like to feel worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that".
This sums up the lyrics perfectly as no matter how extroverted, kind and enthusiastic you may be, the demons inside your head that only you can hear will wreak havoc within you.
Loneliness is the overwhelming theme for both the main character and writer of the song. Guitarist Mark Hoppus' feelings of isolation while on tour and in life, in general, inspired the direction of the song.
It is a song with two parts, two stories, and two choices, and that’s why it means so much to me.
In life, it goes without saying that there will be moments when you feel on top of the world unstoppable and loved by all around you – but there’s also plenty of moments in which you feel isolated, with only the voices in your head to keep you company. These are the most dangerous moments mentally because sometimes you can't explain why it’s happening or simply do not want to tell people about it.
This is the first part of the song in which "Adam" has reached his breaking point saying: "I’m too depressed to go on, you’ll be sorry when I’m gone".
The song means so much to me because I have had times in my life where I have been "Adam". A lost, lonely, self-hating person who at times would have their head in their hands questioning why they behaved and thought the way they did.
"Please tell Mom this is not her fault" is a lyric that is as heartbreaking as it is relatable. No one wishes to harm anybody else they love, and in some cases to prevent themselves from doing so they feel as though they need to remove themselves from said company, essentially self-destructing socially.
When people feel suicidal or so horrifically mentally ill that they wish to hurt only themselves, nobody else, they don’t want anyone to carry a burden for the deeds they’ve done.
Towards the end of the ballad, the clouds begin to clear around Adam's head as he comes to the realisation that "tomorrow holds such better days". He can feel himself getting better and "can't wait to get outside".
Hoppus says this is the intended message. In an interview with the LA Times in 1999, he said the song is about "how kids feel hopeless and like there's no other way out – but they are wrong. There's always something better on the other side of what you are going through."
This is my personal message that I take from the song overall: you just have to dig in and not let yourself drown in self-hatred.
Hope is everything, for without it there is nothing.
If the issues discussed in this article have impacted you in any way, please reach out for help. If you or anyone you know are at risk of suicide, call one of the following support lines. We all need help from time to time.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636