There are few people who are in a better position to speak about what makes a good album than rock God Dave Grohl, a musician who has a CV that is incomparable to most. Not only was he the drummer for grunge pioneers Nirvana but he has since led Foo Fighters to be one of the biggest bands in the business as well as partaking in the acclaimed side project ‘Them Crooked Vultures’ with Led Zeppelin’s Jon Paul Jones and Queen of the Stone Age leader Josh Homme.
It’s impossible to ignore Grohl’s credentials as a professor of music and even though music is, of course, subjective, if the Foo Fighters frontman says an album is his all-time favourite then it’s probably one worth listening to. Surprisingly, however, his favourite record of all time doesn’t come from one of the legends of rock you’d expect to have topped his list. Instead, he opted for a niche film soundtrack.
Grohl, who was in discussion with GQ, was talking initially about his adoration of Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page who he labelled as being his favourite soloist. “So when you watch a movie like The Song Remains the Same, or any live footage from 1971 or 1973, or 1975, and even the earlier stuff, he’s just going for it,” Grohl professed.
“It’s that sort of fearlessness that I respect most in musicians, not perfection or any sort of clean technical proficiency. I really like to see musicians right on the edge of falling apart. He did that in the most beautiful way,” he added.
After drifting into his inner music nerd, Grohl then started discussing the playing technique of guitarist Ry Cooder and handed him the highest praise imaginable. “There is an instrumental record by an American legend named Ry Cooder. He scored a 1984 movie called Paris, Texas in the ’80s, and the soundtrack to that film is my favourite album of all time.”
The film that Grohl is referring to is seen as the director Wim Wenders’ magnum opus, the 1984 masterpiece is a powerful exploration of the concept of family and human connection in the unforgiving landscape of the modern world.
Harry Dean Stanton plays Travis Henderson who embarks on a quest for redemption as he travels across Texas to pick up the pieces of his broken family — which is soundtracked by Cooder’s genius that truly takes the film to another dimension.
Following Grohl’s admission suddenly led to a surge in interest in the soundtrack in 2018 with Cooder finding himself discussing the record on BBC Radio 4 shortly after. “[Wenders] did a very good job at capturing the ambience out there in the desert, just letting the microphones and the Nagra machine roll and get tones and sound from the desert itself, which I discovered was E-flat, was in the key of E-flat – that’s the wind, you know, was nice. So we tuned everything to E-flat,” the guitarist revealed.
Take up Grohl’s advice and listen to the record in full, below.