November 1990: Jane's Addiction Release BEEN CAUGHT STEALING

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

For Jane's Addiction singer Perry Farrell, "Been Caught Stealing" was a very true story.

"Do you know what a Pennsy Pinky is? They were rubber balls that we used to use to play stickball when I was a kid," Farrell told Rolling Stone in 2015. "There was a candy store on the corner by my house in Queens, and I would go there all the time; I thought I was pretty good at stealing, but a guy caught me stone cold while I was taking a Pennsy Pinky. I guess I got in trouble, but that was the only time I ever got caught stealing."

Unlike the song, getting caught wasn't enough to discourage Farrell from taking what he wanted without paying for it: "I got really into stealing when I got older, and I started getting really stupid about it -- I would go to, like, some old mining town in Arizona and steal little things out of the gift shop. But my karma started catching up with me; I started getting things ripped off from me, myself. I would be like, 'I can't believe they stole that stuff from me! Why, Lord, why?' Well, because you're fucking stealing from everybody [laughs]! I finally stopped stealing, because I kept getting my own shit ripped off. That's the only reason I stopped! Karma is so real; I completely believe in it. It's like tax time, you know what I mean? We've all gotta pay taxes, and we've all got to deal with karma. And that's what 'Been Caught Stealing' is about."

Released as the third single from Jane's Addiction's second album, Ritual de lo Habitual, "Been Caught Stealing" was a hit on radio and on MTV, where the chaotic music video was in steady rotation. The track peaked at #1 on the U.S. Modern Rock chart (now known as the Alternative Airplay chart) for the week of October 27, 1990, where it maintained the top spot for four non-consecutive weeks.

As for the song's famous barking-dog intro: "We had Perry’s dog with us in the studio, and we threw him in the booth and got that dog bark," guitarist Dave Navarro related to Rolling Stone. "It's not really a sample -- we just recorded Perry’s actual dog! I don't know that we thought of it as being that obscure or outrageous' he was just barking in the studio while we were playing that song, and we said, 'Oh, that sounds kind of cool; let's put him in there!' And the next thing we know, we’re the 'dog-barking-song band' [laughs]! It was just like something to make us smirk to each other; I don't think we ever thought it through that people would actually hear it. I know I didn't."

FUN FACT: The video for "Been Caught Stealing" won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Alternative Video in 1991, the inaugural year for the award.