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The sad story behind Blink-182′s “Adam’s Song”

Mark Hoppus expressed all the sadness and loneliness he felt in this song from ‘Enema of the State,’ which in the end is about finding strength and moving on.

On March 14, 2000, Blink-182 released “Adam’s Song,” the third single from Enema of the State. That album was a hit that, up to that point, soundtracked “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things,” the two songs for which the world knew them as a trio that represented the punk revival of the late ‘90s. It had songs that talked about the end of adolescence and not taking things so seriously, as well as videos that parodied other hits of the time (how could we forget Mark Hoppus, Tom Delonge, and Travis Barker dressed like the Backstreet Boys in the Millennium era).

But everything changed with “Adam’s Song.” In the video, directed by Liz Friedlander, there was no laughter nor parodies, but the images were in tune with the melancholy of the lyrics. That’s one of the saddest songs in Blink-182′s history: not only because it’s a farewell of sorts; but also because it was based on two real-life cases.

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The story of “Adam’s Song”

Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge wrote “Adam’s Song,” but almost all of it came from Mark’s mind. At the time of Dude Ranch, the hit record that preceded Enema of the State, the Blink-182 bassist and vocalist were feeling very lonely during the nine-month tour they did with NOFX and Social Distortion. And, while Tom and Scott Raynor had girlfriends waiting for them at the airport and were their reasons to look forward to coming home, Mark felt he had no one special to come home for.

“When you’re on tour you feel very lonely,” he said in an interview with MTV in 2000. “You’re with your friends, and you have a good time and everything, but everybody wants to go home and have a girlfriend. And every time we flew home, Tom and Scott always had their girlfriends waiting for them at the airport, and I didn’t. It’s about me feeling depressed and lonely on tour, and having no one to come back for.” Adding to Mark Hoppus’ sadness was a story he read in a magazine around the same time, about a boy who passed and left a letter for his family.

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“Adam’s Song” was almost left out of Enema of the State. It was one of the last songs to be recorded, but Tom and Travis (who had replaced Scott by then) were very receptive when Mark sang it for them and agreed to include it, regardless of whether it sounded different from all the other songs on the album.

The story of Greg Barnes

In 2000, a few months after the album’s release, a teenager named Greg Barnes passed. He was 17 years old and had lost one of his best friends in the 1999 Columbine High School tragedy. “Adam’s Song” was the last song he heard, as he played it over and over again on a stereo in his home. For Blink-182, it was devastating, especially because the song was a song about depression, but also about finding the strength to move on.

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“I felt really bad,” Mark Hoppus said in an interview with MTV shortly thereafter. “I mean, the things that kid had to go through in life were very sad, and for it to end like that was very depressing. But the heart of ‘Adam’s Song’ is about going through hard times in life, being depressed, and going through a complicated period ... but then finding the strength to go on and find a better place on the other side of that.”

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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