For "Give It Away", along with the rest of the album, Rubin sought to achieve a sense of atmosphere that was similar to 60s records that were made without commercialism or viability in mind and to downplay on "big" sounds: "What you hear is what you get—there's not a lot of trickery.
A lot of people want the biggest sound, with walls of guitar and huge drums.
But I don't think those things matter." The song follows a traditional verse-chorus-verse structure; when Kiedis begins singing, Frusciante jumps into a funk-oriented riff that is repeated throughout the verse while Flea plays a complex bass-line that makes use of virtually the entire fretboard.
During the chorus, Kiedis sings "Give it away, give it away, give it away now" repeatedly over a more rapid guitar riff before Frusciante provides, according to Steve Huey of Allmusic, a "sudden contrast to Kiedis' hyperactivity in the form of a languid solo pre-recorded and dubbed backwards over the rhythm track." The solo was recorded in one take because Frusciante had developed a preference towards speedy execution and a raw feeling; according to Flea, "We did very little fix-up stuff.
In 1992 the single charted inside the top 75 of the US Hot 100 in the wake of the huge success of the record's second single "Under the Bridge". The phrase had been something the vocalist intended to incorporate into a song for the band's new record, but it was not until he heard the bassline that the lyrics fit.
"Give It Away" also became the band's first top ten hit in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart. During their tenure in the group, the guitarist and bassist created the main riff and accompanying bassline for "Give It Away". Kiedis said, "I was so struck by Flea's bass part, which covered the whole length of the instrument's neck, that I jumped up and marched over to the mic, my notebook in tow.
"Give It Away" was released as the lead single from Blood Sugar Sex Magik in early September 1991, shortly before the record went on sale. sought to premiere the song on a popular rock radio station in Texas, but were turned down when the format refused to air the track—they told employees at the label to "come back to us when you have a melody in your song".
The band then embarked on a short press tour through Europe in order to promote the record; it was during this time that KROQ-FM, a Los Angeles-based modern rock station, began to place "Give It Away" on heavy rotation.
Every time you empty your vessel of that energy, fresh new energy comes flooding in." During the verses, Kiedis departs from the idea of unselfishness and sings about a variety of topics including long-time friend River Phoenix, musician Bob Marley and various sexual themes including fertility and lust."Give It Away" makes use of far drier production than previous Red Hot Chili Peppers material by removing reverb and guitar layering.
Producer Rick Rubin disavowed walls of sound and layering for simpler, more concise guitar and bass progressions.
John's philosophy was that he would only play a solo twice.