Musicography: 1997

1997: “Everlong” (Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape)

The difference between me being sort of lukewarm on Nirvana and really loving Foo Fighters is pretty much a matter of perception.  Nirvana drenched itself in looking inward, particularly into the ultimately tragically tormented mind of its leader, Kurt Cobain.  It was the music of a generation who wasn’t sure where they were going and didn’t have a lot of optimism in finding the answers.  While Foo Fighters?  Foo Fighters are just a hell of a lot of fun.

That may seem like a superficial distinction to make, but like I’ve said many times, I never really went through some angst-filled period in my life where I need my music to speak to my state of confusion.  I want my music to help me escape, to remind me of anything but what’s going on in my life.  And the absolute glee with which Dave Grohl has thrown himself into being a big damn rock star with Foo Fighters is definitely a great escape.

Because that’s what Grohl is doing with Foo Fighters.  He’s being a rock star.  He’s taking that template made famous by the excesses of 70s giants like the Stones and Zeppelin and applying it to what he learned from his grunge days with Nirvana.  So he’s got the old school rock attitude blended with a more modern musical style.  He even had the band cover a song from the 70s, Gerry Rafferty’s sax-fueled ballad “Baker Street.”  He’s looking forward while throwing back.

And “Everlong” is just a great rock song.  It’s this frenetic, propulsive freight train of a song that’ll probably get me arrested the next time I hear it while driving my car.  And it’s a testament to Grohl’s musicianship that he does double duty here, playing drums as he did with Nirvana on top of providing the rocket sled lead guitar.  It’s an all-around virtuoso performance, from the whole band, and in every note is just the sheer joy of playing this song. That’s what I want from my music.  Make me feel what you’re feeling when you’re playing it.

I also went with “Everlong” here in large part because I love playing it so much in Guitar Hero.    Even if it’s on a little plastic guitar, playing it in the game makes me feel like a rock star too.  Yeah, that’s silly, but to me, that’s the essence of great music.  It’s four or five minutes in which you can lose yourself and pretend you’re up there with the flowing hair and the bright lights and the screaming crowds.  Foo Fighters may not have put a genre on the map or given a generation its poet.  But they’ve made damn good music, and that’s enough to stick with me.


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