When you’re part of two of the rock world’s biggest ever bands, much like Dave Grohl has been, it could be easy to get lost in your own ego and impressive resume. Yet Grohl, the lead singer of Foo Fighters and the former drummer of Nirvana, still has respect for the greats that came before him. Most notably, The Beatles.
The rocker, who appeared on a radio programme to pick some of his favourite songs from The Beatles, detailed his admiration for a group who influenced his formative years. His choices offer not only a view of a deeply appreciative fan, as Grohl is, but also the huge impact the Fab Four had on him and the entire rock scene ever since.
The singer was on BBC Radio 2 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road in 2019 and shared the massive impact that the Liverpudlian band had on him, not only as a young impressionable mind, but as part of two of the biggest bands in rock ‘n’ roll history.
The good folk of Ultimate Guitar have transcribed the whole show and given us the background to Grohl’s choices. Some choices are from the front of the queue for ‘Best Beatles Song’, such as ‘Blackbird’, ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’, ‘Hey Jude’ and more—the classics. But the real interest comes from the more obscure selections.
First up is ‘Hey Bulldog’, a song which will live long in the memory for Grohl, having performed the song with ELO’s Jeff Lyne at the Grammys in 2014. It might be a B-side to many fans but to Grohl “It’s a quintessential Beatles rock ‘n’ roll song.”
Next up on the impressive list is Grohl’s first Abbey Road selection, the reason he’s there after all, and it’s a song that he claims is steeped in heavy rock. The drummer and singer chose ‘I Want You’ about which he says: “Of course, I love heavy music, I love Black Sabbath, I love Motorhead, but I think that nothing is heavier, melodically darker and deeper than the riff in this song.”
Another Abbey Road selection is the George Harrison-penned ‘Something’, a sumptuous track that is high up on the list of most people’s favourite songs. Grohl said of the song, “I think that of all The Beatles — of course, each one of them is so entirely different, melodically they’re so different, songwriting, lyrically — but George Harrison, there was something about him that I almost preferred the most.”
Grohl also revealed that the 1965 song ‘In My Life’ holds a special place in his heart after it was played at his friend and former bandmate Kurt Cobain’s funeral service. “It means a lot to me, because it was the song that was played at Kurt Cobain’s memorial,” Grohl explained to Radio 2. “That day, after everyone had said their piece, this next song came over the speakers and everyone got to celebrate Kurt’s love of The Beatles one last time together.
“Still to this day, when I hear it, it touches a place in me that no other song ever will. It’s called ‘In My Life’ and knowing how much of a fan Kurt was of The Beatles, and how much of an influence they were, to everything we’ve done ever done…I’d like to play this one for him.”
Grohl also offers a view of The Beatles’ initial impact on the world around them. Arriving in 1964 to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show, Grohl suggests that performance “went on to change the course of rock music forever.” Grohl continues, “Most musicians that I’ve talked to that got to witness that on television live for the first time said it changed their lives forever”.
It seems that Grohl was affected by The Beatles at almost every stage of his life. ‘Eight Days a Week’ is the soundtrack to his adolescent crush, while ‘Because’ is a stark and welcome reminder of the moment Grohl entered the legendary Abbey Road studios with the Foo Fighters, “I felt like I was just in the mother church of rock ‘n’ roll.” But as with many people, the first record always hits the hardest.
Grohl’s first memorable musical moment came from the Beatles and the McCartney track ‘Hey Jude’. He told the BBC: “The first Beatles song I’d ever heard and it might be the first record I ever listened to. I remember having a sleepover at a friend’s house when I was maybe four or five years old and listening to ‘Hey Jude.’ I don’t think I’d ever listened to a rock ‘n’ roll record and this was my introduction and it stuck with me ever since”.
The selection is that of a man who is deeply connected with one of the world’s greatest bands of all time. Grohl here picks the songs that most fans would and some notable personal selections. That is the key to The Beatles. Yes, they wrote worldwide, chart-topping, played-on-every-radio, hits but they also connect with everyone who hears them in a slightly different way.
Below is a playlist of Dave Grohl’s favourite Beatles songs of all time as well as the original broadcast.