It is because of Dave Grohl that I began reading again. At the end of last year I was lucky enough to attend a Foo Fighters’ concert. And I gotta tell ya – if you’re not a fan of the Foos, you’re missing out big time. These guys get up there and give it their all. No holds barred. I’ve always known that performing – particularly performing intense rock music – is hard work. But never have I seen the likes of this.
Dave is often described by those who have been lucky enough to meet him as being full of energy. When others are tiring after a third or fourth wind, he has yet to reach his second. He’s a force to behold, and an audience of thousands can feed off his energy, making for a happy, enthusiastic crowd every single time. (To read more about the show, visit my other blog, here.)
A couple of months later I received the Dave Grohl biography, This Is A Call by Paul Brannigan, for Christmas. I hadn’t finished a whole book in about a year. After I finally graduated from university, my mind was just burned out. Add to that a new job with a two-hour commute and sleep problems, and I just had nothing left for reading at the end of the day. But I had become interested in Dave after the show, and had started doing some online reading, so this book got me intrigued.
And for good reason. Brannigan clearly has a lot of respect – both for Dave and for his music – and that shows through in the writing. He also has a passion for music, and uses his knowledge of rock and punk to trace Dave’s early influences. I wish I had been a little bit older and had listened to some of the music he references – unfortuantely I missed out on the DC punk scene, coming of age in the grunge era. However, even if you can’t pull the music up to play in your head as you read, it’s fascinating for any music lover.
The book did nothing but increase my interest in and respect for Grohl’s musical talents. (Did you know that he was the drummer for Nirvana before becoming the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Foo Fighters? I’ve also heard that he did the vocals and played every instrument on the Foos’ first album and recorded it in a week as his way of dealing with Kurt Cobain’s death, though I’m not sure if this is accurate or if this is the album version that was eventually released. But I’d believe it – I can see Dave being capable of that sort of thing!)
I was also impressed by how he seemed to sustain a true love of the art and sense of himself despite fame and notoriety. How he searched for ways to remain connected to his chosen craft through solo and side projects throughout the years, never allowing it to become stale or boring. The book talks about how his experience with Nirvana taught him some difficult but valuable lessons – the main one being that the people were more important than the music. He talks about the Foo Fighters as being a fun, inspiring experience for its members. That if at any point it stops being great, they’ll stop doing it. It’s not about a “career;” it’s about a passion.
In my opinion they’ve lasted as long as they have because of this. And it is because of this mentality that they’ve continued to grow and improve. Though I love the Foo Fighters’ early albums, their most recent, Wasting Light, is the best yet.
Overall, this book is definitely worth reading. If you’re of a younger generation some of the musical history may drag a bit, but if you were part of the punk vanguard it will be intriguing to read some of the behind-the-scenes accounts and learn about the context in which the music came about. Though my interest flagged occasionally, I’m glad I stuck with it – overall it’s an insightful portrayal of both the man and the music by a true admirer and friend.
It’s fitting that a book about Dave Grohl was the one to slingshot me back into reading again. He has gone through many periods where the very thing he was most passionate about seemed to have turned against him – and yet he always found a way to return to it and find joy in it once more. Whatever your passion, whatever your talents – Dave is a true inspiration.