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Music

Dave Grohl explains how he wrote Foo Fighters’ song ‘Everlong’

Like most popular music icons of the latter half of the 20th century, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl isn’t a classically trained musician. Beginning his musical odyssey as a drummer, he would spend hours on end “in my bedroom practising alone to Beatles records (…) battering my drums until my hands literally bled,” Grohl remembered in his book Dave’s True Stories.

Following the death of his Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain in 1994, Grohl decided to turn a leaf to the successful chapter that became Foo Fighters. Up until this point, Gohl was predominantly a drummer, but as the leader of Foo Fighters, he began to try his hand with the guitar and vocals. 

In the 2020 clip from Oates Song Fest below, Grohl tells the story of Foo Fighters’ 1997 hit ‘Everlong’ and how it simply came to him in the studio one day, guitar in hand, while working on the band’s second album, The Colour and the Shape.

He explained that it began with a chord. “I’m not a trained musician, so I don’t know what that chord is,” he says. (The Intertubes seem to agree it’s a Dmaj7). At first, he thought it was a chord from Sonic Youth’s Schizophrenia’, one of his favourite bands. He explained that the chord led to another, and soon he had a rough sketch of the song.

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At the time, Grohl was essentially homeless after a divorce from his former wife, photographer Jennifer Youngblood. Making matters worse, the band weren’t in the best of spirits because their debut album hadn’t garnered the critical and commercial attention they had hoped for. 

Over Christmas 1996, the tides seemed to change, and Grohl met a new love in Louise Post, who was the vocalist and guitarist of the band Veruca Salt. Inspired by this newfound love, Grohl wrote the lyrics for ‘Everlong’ that Christmas. He told Kerrang in 2006: “That song’s about a girl that I’d fallen in love with, and it was basically about being connected to someone so much, that not only do you love them physically and spiritually, but when you sing along with them you harmonise perfectly.”

Grohl soon had a rough demo of the song in which he impressively played all of the instruments. For the final studio polished version of the track, Post provided vocals that were recorded down a telephone, as she was on a trip to Chicago at the time.

“I never considered doing this acoustically, I thought it was a rock song,” Grohl told Kerrang later in the interview. Alas, Grohl changed his mind following a gig on the Howard Stern show where he performed ‘Everlong’ with just his voice and an acoustic guitar. “It gave the song a new life,” he said. “It makes the song feel the way I always wish it would.”

Watch Dave Grohl’s emphatic performance of ‘Everlong’ on the Howard Stern show below. It was the first time he had ever played the song with an acoustic guitar.