Blink-182 songs are anthems for people in my age range. Their punk-pop sound defined a large part of many millennials’ teenage years and was full of all the angst that comes with that period of life. But in addition to producing bangers, a lot of their tracks had deeper meanings and life lessons that were very valuable.
Adam’s Song in particular carried with it a message that was both deeply personal and emotional. In this article, we take a deep look at Adam’s Song by Blink-182 and try to determine what exactly it was all about.
The History Of Adam’s Song
Sadly, the world almost never got to hear this beautiful and depressing tune. Bassist Mark Hoppus was one of the chief writers for it and was inspired by the loneliness he felt while on tour. While the other band members had people to return to, he was single and felt incredibly alone. To top it off, he had recently read a teenager’s suicide letter in a magazine, which served as additional inspiration for the track.
Adam’s Song is written as a suicide note and draws inspiration from the Nirvana hit Come As You Are. It was one of the last tracks to be written and recorded for the band’s Enema Of The State album and almost didn’t make the final cut. Hoppus himself was concerned that the content of the song was too depressing, but the rest of the band—and record label—had a high opinion of it.
It would eventually go on to become a number-two hit on the US Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart and was a top-25 hit on the official charts in Canada and Italy. While most of Blink-182’s music was lighthearted and dealt with drama in a fun way, this one was a chillingly calm change of pace that drew a lot of positive reactions from critics.
Unfortunately, the track would find controversy when it was found playing on repeat when a student committed suicide in 2000, but the intent of the song had always been to give hope to people struggling with depression.
There was a lot of speculation around the time the track was released about its inspiration, so that does need to be cleared up. What we’ve already gone over is the real inspiration for the song, but many seem to believe otherwise.
Fan theories suggested that the band wrote the song after receiving a letter from a fan named Adam who had committed suicide. These allegations are categorically false but had a real origin. The letter in question came from a play written by John Cosper about a student who posted a suicide note on the internet.
Years later, Cosper was asked to do an interview about the track and confirmed that no connection existed between the play he wrote and the song. He eventually did say that after seeing the similarities, he looked into more of the band’s music and became a fan.
The Meaning of Adam’s Song
Adam’s Song tells the story of a kid named Adam who is dealing with severe depression and is contemplating suicide. It’s a true look at what depression does to the mind as well, as it showcases the way the affliction makes you dwell on all of your failures and exhausts you. Things that would generally not be a big deal suddenly become immovable objects, you always feel a lack of motivation, and the world just seems dull. At some point, anyone would reach their breaking point when dealing with all of this.
Once you get so far down, dying feels like the only way to end the pain and suicide seems like the only option. It was an incredibly heavy topic for the band to pursue and one that was a bold decision.
With this as a large theme for the track, it’s clear that it covers dark subject matter. However, the intent was always to pass along a positive and hopeful message, giving listeners who are also dealing with the same problems something to hold onto.
The first verse of the song sees Adam reaching his breaking point and dwelling on all the times he screwed up. Lines like ‘I’m too depressed to go on’ and ‘You’ll be sorry when I’m gone’ bluntly show his mental state.
The second verse is the darkest, seeing Adam resigning himself to his fate and being prepared for suicide. It again recalls the trivial things he’s done wrong, pointing out examples like spilling apple juice before pondering what the world will be like when he’s gone.
The longer the track goes on from there though, the brighter it gets. In the end, he decides to live after finding a small bit of hope to hold on to. And this is a very accurate thing. When you’re dealing with depression and verging on suicide, finding anything to hold onto, no matter how small, is all it can take to keep you from going through with it sometimes.
The closing bit of the song removes itself from his perspective and goes to Hoppus’s. He can’t wait to get home from the tour and is actually excited to find a way to feel alive. Just like Adam was excited about his life only a few short lines earlier, Hoppus is looking forward to getting home rather than dreading it the way he was when he was inspired to write the track.
The real meaning and legacy of Adam’s Song is that it’s an anti-suicide song. While the dark themes of the first verses are off-putting, going that far down is something that relates to millions of people, and finishing it with a happier ending could have been that one small lifeline that saved their lives.
For many, the departure from their normal sound was confusing. But there’s nothing confusing about Adam’s Song. The real meaning of the track was that it represented a lot of us, people that struggle with mental health issues and are just trying to make it for one more day. Despite the dark themes, the song would go on to become an anthem of sorts, not the kind you hear played at the Super Bowl or a big political protest, but the anthem of the people sitting by themselves and wrestling with their own minds.
Blink-182 have put out some amazing tracks, but Adam’s Song is by far their most powerful, and for many, likely the most important entry in their catalog. The track was made for people struggling on their own, alone in their rooms. And if it gave even one person the inspiration to go on, it was a wild success.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
quality content for the Music Grotto website. Dakotah is passionate about music in a wide variety of genres, from hip-hop to country and lo-fi to metal, and he enjoys creating music pieces for Music Grotto.