Thursday, July 9, 2009

Times Like These

I have been a Foo Fighters fan since I heard "Learn to Fly" several years ago. I didn't really think that much about it because I wasn't listening to anything consistently except for a few bands...most notably the group Collective Soul.

The name "Foo Fighters" was intriguing to me, and so I looked it up on Wikipedia (fountain of knowledge that it is) for a semblance of an explanation. What I found was that it was "a term used by Allied aircraft pilots in World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over both the European and Pacific Theater of Operations." Actually, there was another "F" word in front of Foo Fighters in the military sense...that was later cleaned up for the "official records." I find it almost fitting that this particular "F" word appears to be among lead singer Dave Grohl's favorite and most commonly used. It is also the only thing I would change about the group's public image hands down.

Dave Grohl was formerly the drummer for Nirvana which disbanded at the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 since most fans identified the band primarily with Cobain. The songs that Grohl recorded were written during his time with Nirvana...but reportedly his lack of confidence in his work when compared with Cobain's caused him to keep them to himself. Whether that explanation is true or simply rumor is unknown. But after turning down a job as the drummer for Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Grohl did the unexpected and recorded his songs under the name Foo Fighters.

With the exception of guitar work on one song, he wrote, sang lead vocals and played every instrument on every song on the first Foo Fighters album that was released in 1995. Quite incredible, if you think about it. Most expected him to catch another band and remain a drummer. Thankfully, he chose to move his project forward. When the album was successful, he was then faced with the problem of actually filling out the band when it was time to begin touring.

There was band member turnover because it was abundantly clear that Grohl was the driving force of the band...much as Cobain had been with Nirvana. But the fruitbasket bandmembers seems to have settled down now. The band is unique in that the current members are free to work on their own projects independent of Foo Fighters...and they do.

The primary reason that I adore Dave Grohl is that he dared to imagine his future differently than others did and he followed through. He did the unexpected and succeeded...following the "Road Less Traveled" so to speak. If you watch the videos for the band's'll see Grohl primarily in self-deprecating roles. He seems to be "real" and totally comfortable in his own a nice guy who is someone's brother who happens to be in a band.

I view him as someone approachable and down to earth. If he would clean up his language in interviews and concerts I'd be happier...but there is honestly no mistaking his genius. And although he yells a lot like most rock lead singers do...he can actually sing. In fact, the band toured a couple of years ago in a totally acoustic format. The last album, released in 2007 "In Your Honor" included both acoustic tracks and regular tracks. Again...still doing the unexpected...but in a positive way.

One day, I bought a CD at Target called "Red Room" that was incredibly cheap and had a ton of new artists on it along with a couple of songs I'd actually heard before. The best by far was the version of "Times Like These" that is still my favorite. It is a live version, but it is slower than the one on the Foo Fighters album, or any of the other live performances I've seen courtesy of YouTube. It is about as close to perfect as I've heard it performed.

The words are wonderful...and the music is in my humble opinion...brilliant. I love the fact that the song can be played fast and upbeat or slow and thoughtful. And it works both ways. I also love the lyrics...

I am a one way motorway
I'm the one that drives away
Then follows you back home...
I am a street light shining
I'm a wild light blinding bright
Burning off alone

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you learn to give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these, time and time again

I am a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky
To hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
Do I stay or run away
And leave it all behind

I honestly don't know what was in Dave Grohl's head when he penned this one. He may have been speaking globally about life...about something that we'll never figure out, or about choices we make in life. I personally believe that it was the latter.

I believe that the song refers to a period of decision...commitment...and hope. Almost as if he was trying to decide whether to take the safe way, or to take off in another direction into the great unknown. But hey, that's just my interpretation. All I know is that something about the song, the group, and specifically Dave Grohl just resonates with me. I admire his faith in himself...and appreciate that he didn't take the easier road. If he had...some of my favorite songs probably wouldn't exist. And THAT would be tragic...later!

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