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Dave Grohl reveals the meaning of the 'Learn to Fly' lyrics

Dave Grohl makes a solid claim to being the last true rockstar. Whilst many of the original cohort of rockstars are still alive, such as Keith Richards or Ozzy Osbourne, the Foo Fighters frontman is also cut from that artistic cloth that is now fading away. The concept of the rockstar started in the 1960s, but in recent times, it has begun to lose its cultural relevance as society has changed markedly since the days when sex, drugs and rock and roll were in the supremacy. 

It is well known that Grohl has abstained from drugs since he was a teenager, but it is in terms of living a life of mythical proportions as well as creating countless classics that allow Grohl to make this claim. He cut his teeth in the celebrated hardcore band Scream before joining Nirvana in the early ’90s, and afterwards, he’d never look back.

The Washington state trio galvanised Generation X with their blend of punk power with pop hooks when they released their sophomore effort, Nevermind in 1991, and since then, they’ve been hailed as one of the most influential bands of all time.

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When Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain decided to take his own life in 1994, the world was left reeling, and this shock and sadness was felt most by his family and band members. Grohl has spoken about it on numerous occasions, and for a while, he was done with music. 

However, he managed to pull himself out of that bleak period by writing material for the band that would eventually become known as Foo Fighters, and in this outfit, Grohl would cement himself as one of the all-time greats, writing anthem after anthem. He and the band’s influence hasn’t waned in 25 years, as reflected by the fact that they just took the 2022 Grammys by storm.

Even if Grohl and Foo Fighters have released a string of forgettable tracks in recent years, that does not diminish their status, and the classics they’ve released will always remain so. One of the most notable cuts that Grohl wrote for Foo Fighters was ‘Learn to Fly’ from 1999’s There Is Nothing Left to Lose, and during an October 2021 interview on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Grohl revealed that the lyrics to the song aren’t as deep as we once thought. 

Clarkson posits that Grohl’s lyrics always contain a balance between darkness and light, which she says: “I guess is life”. However, the Foo Fighters frontman immediately dispels this notion when it comes to ‘Learn to Fly’ and reveals: “I don’t want to burst your bubble. At the time, I wanted to become a pilot. I wanted to learn to fly. I did. That’s it… I’m sorry. I got the videotapes, I was reading all these books. I’m sorry.”

Elsewhere he clarified: “I’m singing it because I wanted to be a pilot, you’re singing it because ‘I’m so inspired by life’ or whatever… I wanted to learn to fly, and then I was like, ‘Wait. There’s math involved? I can’t do this.'”

If Dave Grohl were to one day get a pilot’s license, that would be the most rock and roll thing imaginable, and it would just add to the argument that he is the last true living rockstar. 

Watch the clip below.

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