There’s a parallel universe out there where Dave Grohl doesn’t start the Foo Fighters in the wreckage of Nirvana’s unexpected and tragic conclusion. Instead, he takes up that offer to be Tom Petty’s full-time drummer and follows his idol on a short cut to immediate stadium status rather than build his own new band from scratch. He still becomes one of the most sought-after helping hands in rock music — a critical session darling for his drum work with Queens Of The Stone Age, Paul McCartney, David Bowie, Nine Inch Nails, Iggy Pop, Lemmy, and many more, and his various side projects, such as Them Crooked Vulture and Probot, go on to be just as casually celebrated. But none of Grohl’s individual contributions to rock ‘n’ roll reach anywhere near the stratospheric recognition of his main gig. How could they? Grohl’s out there providing the backbone to some of America’s most beloved rock anthems for tens of thousands of fans, leaving his stamp on established classics he himself grew up loving, songs like “American Girl” and “Breakdown.”
In that alternate reality, the songs Grohl was working on during Nirvana’s final days aren’t released until after the grunge era has long since passed, refashioned as acoustic demos packaged as part of Nevermind and In Utero’s 20th anniversary deluxe vinyl reissues, then swiftly forgotten alongside “Marigold,” the sole Grohl-fronted Nirvana cut, which would never take on a life of its own from stubborn fans demanding Grohl play it during Foo Fighters shows. Grohl remains content — always experimenting but never chasing heights beyond those he first earned via his much-celebrated affiliation with the once-in-a-generation iconoclast Kurt Cobain.
That’s not how Grohl’s story turned out, of course, but it’s illustrative of just how comfortable and fulfilled the drum phenom could have lived without the Foo Fighters. Yet instead of remaining a footnote in Cobain’s legacy, or sliding into the shadow behind the kit of one of his much-cherished childhood icons, Grohl became a new generation’s Tom Petty — the classic rocker with few classic albums but one of the absolute best greatest-hits albums among his peers. Within the same decade as his previous admission to the Rock Hall Of Fame, the Dave Grohl of our world will likely be inducted once more alongside the Foo Fighters in their first year of eligibility.
The Foo Fighters have presently entered an era in which their career is of more significance to many than that of Nirvana’s, and it’s impossible not to notice just how drastically Grohl’s approach to being a rock star differed from that of his former bandleader. Kurt Cobain was an anti-hero who fueled an entire generation’s brief-but-bountiful expression of teenage dissent. Grohl has inspired kids to turn air-guitars into guitar lessons just the same, but he’s done so while cultivating an infallible image as the nicest guy in rock. Cobain was eclipsed by fame. Grohl has spent a majority of the last decade turning his career into a press campaign for how rock ‘n’ roll is America’s finest institution — doing so through affectionate-albeit-masturbatory documentaries and respect-paying awards show performances.
Throughout their period of mainstream recognition, Nirvana were notoriously prickly and enigmatic. The Foo Fighters, on the other hand, are arguably the most gracious band running today. Among their long list of fan-serving gestures, the group has performed a crowd-funded gig for 1500 enterprising fans, played a variety of more intimate shows under aliases such as the Holy Shits, invited a Foo Fighters tribute singer to join them onstage, booked a concert in a small Italian town because 1000 fans shot a viral video of themselves covering “Learn To Fly,” and found an improbably hokey but still heartily appreciated alternative to not canceling an entire tour after Grohl busted up his leg, before generously offering this very solution to Axl Rose so Guns N’ Roses could do the same.
Within the same vein, Grohl is perhaps rock’s cleanest icon. The “Legal Issues” section of his Wikipedia page lists only a single item: an innocuous incident where Grohl drove a scooter under the influence after a show in Australia. Although he’s seen friends ruined by drug use, Grohl himself has never taken a hard drug, and even stopped smoking weed at the age of 20. That’s admirable, yet is an obvious departure from the glamorized tortured excess of the musicians he grew up romanticizing. It’s another aspect of Grohl’s status as the embodiment of rock’s turning point from the ‘90s to now. He was a child of the genre’s most exaggerated era, and a key figure in the popularization of its most aggravated, yet became the torchbearer of the mainstream’s embrace of the middle-of-the-road.
The Foo Fighters exist as dual institutions in their tenure as a rock mainstay, embodying paragons of two vastly dissimilar yet spiritually connected eras of the genre. The group that emerged in the ‘90s out of Nirvana’s collapse helped usher in grunge’s deconstruction as sludgy, scuzzy pop that revolutionized the decade’s latter-day mainstream. If Nirvana brought the Seattle grunge scene to Michael Jackson-toppling heights, Grohl went on to turn the bands indebted to Nirvana into fully functioning pop stars.
And as the century turned, the Foo Fighters transitioned their way into America’s favorite rock band — writing the new decade’s most memorable generational rock touchstones through vague sentimentality performed loud enough to be memorable. Along the way, Grohl completely embraced his rock star pathway into celebrity, becoming a household name newsworthy outside the context of his musical fame. He has an affable stature more akin to a roadie than an “artist” — he probably would have wound up hosting late-night talk-shows if he hadn’t found his way into music — and alongside his decidedly liberal views that never bubble up against his safe, blanket patriotism, it’s this quality that’s led him to be so firmly and universally embraced by almost anyone who grew up associating music as being synonymous with “guitars.”
This has been the case all the way since the band’s self-titled debut — essentially a Dave Grohl solo album that’s undoubtedly indebted to what he learned from Cobain while still subverting the popularized antagonistic demeanor Nevermind established as the “future of rock.” On both Foo Fighters and the band’s heralded follow-up The Colour And The Shape, Grohl reimagined what Nirvana might sound like on classic rock radio before they were actually put into rotation on classic rock radio, writing songs with just as much muscle but not nearly as tightly wound. Those albums are considered the standard-bearers of the Foo Fighters’ catalogue, celebrated for balancing Grohl’s strengths — thrilling, sticky instrumental theatrics and a mellifluously enthralling post-grunge wail — with the most emotionally resonant songwriting he’d ever muster. The Foo Fighters have always and will always be heart-on-their-sleeve balladeers shrouding themselves in power-chord fuzz, but at their earliest and finest, they were open-hearted in a genuinely moving way.
Their third album, 1999’s There Is Nothing Left To Lose, saw the Foos expanding their palette toward loungier soft-rock, crafting the dreamiest incarnation of grunge music imaginable. It’s a curiosity in the band’s catalogue, because while those first two albums were more relaxed than the rigidly anthemic music of their latter-day career, they weren’t anywhere close to this playful. There Is Nothing Left To Lose mindfully embodied its title to see the group experiment without being self-conscious. It’s a side of the band we’d never quite see again when One By One blew the doors out with the impression the Foo Fighters have since stuck with: impeccably polished sonics streamlining the acceptance of explosive singles that could all conceivably open the band’s setlists. It’s clean-cut radio rock, and the clear dividing point between the band’s ‘90s and ‘00s.
Grohl’s roots are in D.C.’s punk scene, and reconciling the purity of his initial rock awakening with the marketability of the American AOR bands of the ‘70s and ‘80s has resulted in some awkward growing pains as the outfit pushes back against the comfort period they are naturally settling into. Though they’ve aged, the Foo Fighters have become increasingly unaware of such, with Grohl still flagrantly throwing up his middle-fingers at shows while howling with a rage long since passed the band’s image. As a result of this incongruity between action and impact, their music has hit a series of disappointing creative non-starters.
The Foo Fighters latter-half output has been defined by an ambition that betrayed their intentions. From In Your Honor onward, Grohl got too caught up in the presentation to the detriment of the actual content. He followed a split electric/acoustic double album that packed in half-baked songs to meet his two-disc objective with a live album beholden to recreating the band’s music in a way no one had asked for. He tried to reign in the girth by fitting that acoustic/electric experience into the same songs on the band’s subsequent LP, pushing their ever-present quiet-loud dynamics to exaggerated distances, and then somehow turned “back-to-the-basics” into a massive concept in and of itself. The irony of Wasting Light — presented as a love-letter to old-school analog and recorded in Grohl’s garage completely live alongside Nevermind producer Butch Vig — is that it stands as one of the band’s sleekest, most-polished records in their catalogue. The force is there to be sure, but it’s hyper-produced for maximum impact, with every percussive clap and guitar note snapped into turgid synchrony. In effect, that means it sounds monstrous on the radio, and it proved a comeback album for a band in large need of a reason to come back. Yet as if deciding the return-to-form reception that album was met with was worth intentionally retreating against, the band followed it up with their most highbrow conceptual album to date.
Sonic Highways’ “eight songs in eight separate studios” objective is the logical endpoint of Grohl’s experimentation with the framework rather than the actual songwriting, which includes Wasting Light’s focus on presenting a DIY story in spite of results that suggest completely otherwise. Foo Fighters songs can’t help but sound like Foo Fighters songs, and the material on the band’s eighth LP/HBO special is no exception, cameos by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Ben Gibbard be damned. All that’s changed is the set of limitations. Yet where the recording constraints of their self-titled debut forced Grohl to improvise by fine-tuning his performances and varying his approach, the homework-style impositions on the band’s process for Sonic Highways pushed Grohl to chase heights that a vehicle like the Foo Fighters just isn’t built to reach. You don’t come to this band for jazz or country; you come for power-pop rawk, a kind defined by Grohl’s sheer enthusiasm and its anthemic results. The irony of a band as reliably structured as the Foo Fighters is that they need unrestricted freedom to achieve the greatest results of that defined sound. On Sonic Highways they try to realize an oxymoron — to be a tribute act that somehow has its own distinct identity.
The Foo Fighters were gunning to be a classic rock band and wound up a radio rock act, echoing their ancestors without ever fully securing themselves a spot in their pantheon, despite being as successful as any of them ever were. They’ve written enough history to be easily confined to the past, and perhaps these grandiose endeavors are a way for Grohl to remain urgent — to escape transitioning into a coasting figurehead of better days as he’s seen the legends he now plays alongside grow into. Yet he’s managed to push himself so far into a caricature of what classic rock should be that he’s stopped pushing the genre forward as he once had. Still, there’s hope yet that the Foos aren’t beyond surprise.
The 2015 EP Saint Cecilia was the most casual effort the band’s released since the open-aired There’s Nothing Left To Lose, and it’s a heartening return to their strong suits. First and foremost, it’s comprised of five songs written outside of any narrative context. They exist without the band having to force an inspiration onto their construction. Most importantly though, they’re fun in a way the Foo Fighters haven’t been for a long while. Grohl is one of the most good-natured, naturally enjoyable faces to encounter on stage, and Saint Cecilia finds him gleefully wagging his tongue rather than sermonizing grandiloquent nods to history he’s decided he needs to acknowledge. The band’s at its best when nothing sounds forced — when the music feels like it is supposed to exist, not that is has to. There’s room to breathe, and the urgent exhilaration they so often inspire feels deserved rather than assumed. Now “Run,” the gargantuan new single the Foos dropped last week, continues to build on where Saint Cecilia left off — suggesting that just maybe there are reasons to look ahead optimistically at where Grohl goes next.
The songs that make up this list largely all follow the same path to greatness. There are choruses so melodically rich yet authoritatively grand that they muscle their way into your subconscious. There’s the dynamic sensibilities that have been Grohl’s early calling card — how he slow dances with you in the moonlight before gripping you by the ankles and deadlifting you as a crater into said moon. There are those riffs — those goddamn riffs: the ones they craft not only on the guitar, but on the bass and drums as well. That consistency doesn’t mean this band is churning out variations of the same song; every entry on this list serves a unique and specific purpose in the Foo Fighters catalogue, on a Foo Fighters setlist. They’re the reasons you won’t ever forget about this band, and why new listeners will always tune in.
10. “February Stars” (from the Colour And The Shape, 1997)
Dave Grohl, nice as he my be, definitely has his moments of coldhearted savagery. His evilest moment to date? Rerecording all of then-drummer William Goldsmith’s parts during The Colour And The Shape sessions because they didn’t come match what Grohl had in mind, doing so without warning in a manner that effectively terminated Goldsmith’s role in the band. And the cruelest part? Grohl subsequently asked for Goldsmith to stay on as their touring drummer. Brutal, sure, but Grohl knows what he’s doing. Beyond this decision eventually leading to Taylor Hawkins’ necessary inclusion in the Foo Fighters, the resultant drumming on The Colour And The Shape is some of the band’s all-time finest across their catalogue. Grohl’s colossal percussive attack on “February Stars”‘ slow-motion, explosive outro carries a force only appropriately measured in megatons. It’s the style that most recalls the throttling heft he employed in Nirvana, but on the way there we also see him cooly wax and wane a steady heartbeat over twinkling guitars and Nate Mendel’s plaintive, relaxed bassline. All the while, Grohl wearily serenades an absent figure, constantly mistaking her silhouette in the twilight. Yet even without any romantic resolution, he manages by the end to make enough noise to mask the darkness — enough noise to topple even the most stubborn pillar of loneliness.
9. “Rope” (from Wasting Light, 2011)
Wasting Light was heralded as a triumph upon its arrival because of its return to the fundamentals of the Foo Fighters after a run of albums that wore their aspirations thin. While that narrative is considerably overblown, what rings true is that the songs on Wasting Light are prime examples of what this band does best: big riffs and even bigger choruses, both delivered louder and larger than ever before, with absolutely no filler barring the dull, rudimentary “Back And Forth.” That return to the band’s “bread and butter” is ultimately what makes Wasting Light so infinitely re-playable, and is essential to its appeal, but the irony is that the highlights of the album are those few songs that sway slightly from their perfected formula. “Dear Rosemary” twists a Bob Mould feature into the most maudlin Foo Fighters tune to date, meanwhile Krist Novoselic lends a somber upright bass to the narcotic dirge that is “I Should Have Known.” And “Rope” is the most exciting twist of them all, because it manages to try just enough new things without ever betraying the band’s stated intentions.
Making ample use of the band’s then-new three-guitar set-up to craft their most Zeppelin-esque composition yet, Grohl’s airy, double-tracked vocals lay punctuated by a precise onslaught of perfectly delayed riffs. “Rope” gives each Foo Fighter ample room to shine, most notably drummer Taylor Hawkins, who provides the highlights in that trickling high-hat stampede on the chorus and his giddy bridge fills. But Chris Shiflett’s walloping guitar solo is the song’s absolute best moment — so thrillingly gaudy that for a moment it suspends disbelief and reminds you of everything that makes rock music so exciting the first time you hear it. The Foo Fighters have attempted repeatedly in their latter day to reproduce those innocent highs they experienced from their own childhoods, but “Rope” is one of the only singles that ever managed to do that feeling justice.
8. “I’ll Stick Around” (from Foo Fighters, 1995)
A song widely believed to be about Courtney Love until it was confirmed to be about Courtney Love, “I’ll Stick Around” is Dave Grohl at his most bitter. Damning lines like “I’m the only one who sees/ Your rehearsed insanity,” and “I’ve been around/ All the pawns you’ve gagged and bound” describe to a tee the two’s notoriously acrimonious relationship. Grohl’s gruff tell-off on the refrain that he doesn’t “owe you anything” — often taken as an indictment against Love’s attempts to win in court the royalties of Nirvana’s catalogue — is the most sincerely spiteful he’d ever sound delivering a lyric. There’s history behind “I’ll Stick Around,” giving the song an authentic weight that many of the band’s less evocative compositions never manage.
Yet the celebrity gossip isn’t even what gives “I’ll Stick Around” its spark. The first single Grohl ever issued under his new band’s moniker was a revving garage-pop gem that suggests direct allusions to Nirvana’s anesthetized-into-angered aesthetic, balancing mellow-yet-scathing verses against a boisterous chorus of unhinged shouting. Yet Grohl also proved himself a wholly distinct songwriter — one who applies distortion as a sheen rather than a haze, softening the edges of grunge’s least approachable elements. Inside every Foo Fighters track exists at its core a fully-realized pop song, but Grohl — playing every instrument himself on the band’s debut (except for one guitar part on “X-Static” performed by the Afghan Whigs’ Greg Dulli) — always dresses up his confections with slapping drums and churning power chords. His affirmative repetition that he’ll “stick around” wasn’t simply a bite at Love, but a declaration that he’d remain in music on his own terms, while promising to “learn from all that came from it.” It was also an assurance to the new legion of fans Grohl was earning independently that this song was only the beginning.
7. “Low” (from One By One, 2002)
One of Dave Grohl’s most celebrated side-gigs is as Queens Of The Stone Age’s drummer on the band’s 2002 and 2013 albums Songs For The Deaf and …Like Clockwork. Yet Josh Homme’s heavy-metal stoner rock never really influenced Grohl’s primary gig with Foo Fighters. Save for “Low,” which immediately jettisons into shape with its blistering, stereophonic guitar assault supported by Hawkins’ ferocious percussive engine. Grohl’s mixes sand into his eerie growl before whipping up it up into a full-fledged storm on the song’s outro. While he’s screamed louder and strummed harder on Foo Fighters songs both before and since, Grohl’s never quite summoned the same blissful noise as he perfected with the ratio applied on “Low.” It’s a livewire of a single, incandescent and aggravated, but it never once burns out — keeping its cool without going over the edge the same way Homme’s best work operates. (Side note: While the Foo Fighters have a number of great music videos to their name — from the wholesome Mentos parody for “Big Me” to the conceptually crafty “Learn To Fly” clip — there’s not one that I recall as often or as clearly as the one for “Low.” That’s not necessarily a good thing.)
6. “Stacked Actors” (from There Is Nothing Left To Lose, 1999)
“Stacked Actors” subverts Grohl’s preferred finger-picked to power chord push-and-pull in favor of a monster punk stomper that settles into spectral lounge music. The riff on “Stacked Actors” is pure meat-and-potatoes, as impactful for how loud the band performs it as it is for the actual notes they’re playing. And where the transition between parts on a Foo Fighters song always seems intuitive in spite of its scale, “Stacked Actors” somehow goes where you least anticipate while sounding completely natural doing so. It’s the perfect song to open the band’s warmest, most free-form collection to date, showcasing their musical flexibility and ability to let loose without wasting a single measure. You could always lose yourself to a Foo Fighters song prior because the emotions were so boldly uninhibited to be all-consuming, but “Stacked Actors” is the first song of theirs you could actually lose yourself in. It’s immersive, sidewinding, and at least a little sensual — piling phasing guitars on top clouds of furious feedback in both its toughest and softest moments, forging ample kindling for Grohl’s characteristic howl to set it all aflame and burn it gloriously back down again and again.
5. “Monkey Wrench” (from The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
“Monkey Wrench,” The Colour And The Shape’s instantly memorable lead single, rides one of the Foo’s characteristically frenetic guitar riffs, perhaps their most enthralling as Pat Smear’s fingers shuffle chromatically down the fretboard. A drop-D slapper that is a guaranteed highlight of any live set, “Monkey Wrench” chronicles Grohl’s realization that he’s both a pawn and a crutch in his relationship, causing damage as much as he’s receiving it himself. He’s tried to compromise to no avail (“Now and then I’ll try to bend/ Under pressure wind up snapping in the end”), as well as fruitfully act out (“Adolescent resident/ Wasting another night on planning my revenge”), but ultimately he accepts — on the song’s jackhammer third verse — the relationship’s structural limitations and finds a silver lining amongst all the residual wreckage: “There’s one thing that comforts me/ Since I was always caged and now I’m free.” Resolution follows from acceptance, and the blitzkrieg of “Monkey Wrench” is the sound of breaking chains you decide you no longer need.
4. “Aurora” (from There Is Nothing Left To Loose, 1999)
The most outright beautiful the Foos ever got, “Aurora” is one of the rare outliers in the band’s catalogue that proves a highlight for deviating so drastically from their established approach. At nearly six-minutes, it’s one of the longest songs in the band’s repertoire, but it’s also their loveliest. Capturing in serene passages themes of wistful nostalgia, the song doesn’t reach for any of the band’s usual expressive rock-outs until the very end, and even then it’s a measured, dreamy collision of woozy atmospherics and reassuring thumps. There’s no rush to get to the chorus, or effort to jolt the listener out of the quiet dreamscape by suddenly turning up the intensity for the hook. Instead, Grohl, Hawkins, and Mendel stay locked into a twinkling, pattering groove that never imposes itself. You might not consciously register if “Aurora” came on in a public space, perhaps while shopping at a department store or waiting for your meal at a restaurant, but you’d almost certainly feel your shoulders ease and your entire mood enliven regardless.
3. “The Pretender” (from Echoes, Silence, Patience, & Grace, 2007)
The loudest I’ve ever listened to recorded music was by myself in high school, a couple days after I had gotten my driver’s license and was by that point spending hours aimlessly circling the streets of my hometown, basking in the newfound control and self-confidence that only sitting alone behind a steering wheel can elicit. Prior to securing the right to set out on the road alone, the volume knob in my car always stayed at a comfortable 12, an unspoken but otherwise impregnable rule that was par the course for cruising beside my father. But when it was finally me and only me exerting my influence on the car’s five-seat society, I pushed that dial to its theoretical limits. I blasted with the windows down in shameless glee a number of songs at deafening levels those afternoons, but none more often and as decibel-intensive as “The Pretender.”
What makes “The Pretender” one of the Foo Fighters’ greatest songs is how perfect it sounds while flying down an empty freeway, or even just going 10 over the speed limit on your way to the grocery store. The winding, weary arpeggio intro sets a highly unstable base on which the band’s onslaught of sharp guitar licks simply sprints across with limitless momentum. That muted, grinding bridge riff, with phasing atmospherics soaring over Grohl’s defiant, spittle filled barks of “Who are you?” gives way to just a moment of relief, before hurdling back into the band’s most cathartic chorus. It’s a song of resistance that sounds like you’re already celebrating your inevitable victory, and by the time the song reaches its apex you’ve already arrived at your destination. It’s pure acceleration, and also the best single the band released in the 2000s.
2. “This Is A Call” (from Foo Fighters, 1995)
Most of the lyrics to “This Is A Call” are seemingly nonsense, with Grohl’s train of thought jumping tracks irrationally from the beauty of painted nails to overprescribing Ritalin to children. But while the words don’t really matter, they sure as hell sound good being sung out loud. For many, the suggestion that “visiting is pretty” was our first introduction to Grohl’s songwriting — our first taste of what his post-Nirvana output might look like — and not a single person could understand a damn thing he was talking about. Nonetheless, no one really noticed, because the thing is we were all too busy shouting along at the top of our longs to pay any attention to what it was that we were now saying.
The exception to this is the song’s chorus, that ramping salutation that pays respects to, as Grohl puts it, “all the people I ever played music with, people I’ve been friends with, all my relationships, my family.” As his first foot forward from one of the most unspeakable tragedies he’d encounter in his life, Grohl was obviously carrying into this new project a great deal of residual baggage. And although he shouldn’t have been expected to address any of it right out the gate, “This Is A Call” unintentionally manages to be an anthem against the kind of numbness that Grohl might have succumbed to being swallowed by whole. He’s appreciative of the little things, the concepts you might not consciously consider unless you were trying desperately to grasp at things to avoid dwelling on a deep sense of despair — complimenting them in the simplest, sweetest terms. Because of all of that uninhibited gratitude, “This Is A Call” fucking goes — like Grohl’s rushing out of his house and grabbing at all the flowers to smell them without stopping. Dave’s had to repeatedly “learn to walk again” after being struck numb by Cobain’s suicide. But at one point, he started off only capable of running.
1. “Everlong” (from The Colour And The Shape, 1997)
In many ways, I think the Foo Fighters’ sophomore album has aged better than Nirvana’s. Or at the very least, it’s the one that resonates stronger with age. Juvenile demeanor aside, Grohl was already considerably wizened by the time he set out to make a name for himself following Nirvana’s end, having experienced more in rock ‘n’ roll at the age of 25 than most modern icons in the genre have at 50. Where Nevermind’s mentality was firmly entrapped in teenage volatility, The Colour And The Shape instead confronts weathered remorse in heavy sighs. Nevermind is frustrated in spite of comfort, where Colour is comforted despite all the conflict. Each album’s signature songs are case examples of this disparity: where “Smells Like Teen Spirit” may be a colossal anthem of angst that will ring true for every generation as they pass through adolescence, “Everlong” is the song that will mean more and more to them with each passing year.
“Everlong” has always been considered the Foo Fighters’ crowning achievement, and is one of the most endearing, enduring songs from the ‘90s. From the masterfully layered guitar lattice to Grohl’s demurely intoned verses, there’s hallmarks of everything that defined ‘90s rock in the song’s restless yearning, a pace maintained by the song’s frenetic, relentless drumming. Yet “Everlong” transcends its stylistic signifiers because of how clearly and resonantly the band conjures the feeling of anxious, overwhelming anticipation.
While the song’s origins are as a proclamation of love written for Veruca Salt’s Louise Post, “Everlong” derives its core impact from the romantic dissolution of Grohl’s first marriage with photographer Jennifer Youngblood immediately prior. “Everlong” isn’t just about love; it’s about young, fresh love — and most specifically the kind that improbably follows the untimely end of love unwilling to be let go but ultimately forced to be discarded. There’s a duality to his excitement, and although this new romance is allowing him to come “out of the red,” he’s aware that his advances are ultimately invitations to “come down and waste away” with him. There’s a thrill to each step the two take further and further into their mutual affection, but also a fear, because Grohl knows how this can turn out. Euphoria burdened by apprehension forces Grohl to embrace his newfound enamor with a practical caution. He’s felt before that love doesn’t last, but he’s feeling now again that maybe it could.
It never does, but we trick ourselves into believing it could because the rush of the ride is worth every inch of the fall. Cynics plateau; romantics never settle. “Everlong” is about the impermanence of those kinetic moments when your world feels like it’s spinning at light-speed without moving an inch, but it manages to capture music’s capacity to do what we can’t do in our own lives — bottling up the essence of that sensation and delivering it across four minutes of constant elevation that can be revisited at will. The thing about “Everlong” is that it always feels as good as the first time you heard it, and it’ll feel this good forever.