We’ve all fantasised about penning a masterpiece. Even bonafide rockstars like the late great Taylor Hawkins have songs they wished they’d written, five of which the drummer revealed during a conversation with Rolling Stone back in 2017.
The first track Hawkins named was The Hollies’ 1974 single ‘The Air That I Breathe’. It sees Albert Hammond Sr and Mike Hazelwood paint a portrait of a man who has his every desire fulfilled by the woman he loves, to the extent that he’s willing to live without cigarettes, sleep, light, sound, food and books as long she loves him.
“Albert Hammond Sr, the father of Albert Hammond Jr. of the Strokes, wrote this,” Hawkins began. “I think this is one of the most fucking beautiful songs ever. Radiohead got sued over it since it sounds a lot like ‘Creep’. I discovered them late in life. They’ve got a cool drummer. This is from after Graham Nash left. It was sort of their last hurrah.”
The second track on Hawkins’ list was The Police’s ‘Synchronicity II’, which, according to the Foo Fighters drummer, showcases Stewart Copeland at his very best: “Stewart Copeland is one of my heroes,” he said. “I love him to death. The best music that Sting ever made was with Stewart Copeland. That’s the fucking truth. That’s partially because he had some guy in the back going, ‘Nah, that’s stupid! Let’s try it like this.’ I understand Sting was probably like, ‘Fuck it; I don’t want to deal with that shit.’ I think they still loved each other, though.”
Next up is ‘Pigs in Zen’ by Jane’s Addiction, a song that served as an antidote for Hawkins as a teenager. “Jane’s Addiction made hard rock interesting lyrically again and kind of put some brains back in there when the brains were getting knocked out of hard rock,” he opined. “Metallica was doing it too, on a certain level, and Bad Brains, but I wasn’t in the weeds. I was just more discovering 1970s bands at that point. When I heard Jane’s Addiction, the lyrics were like John Lennon’s in a weird way. They were esoteric, and they made you think.”
Hawkins’ next selection is one shared by a fair few people. The fourth track the drummer wished he’d written was Queen’s immortal stadium anthem ‘We Will Rock You’. Although, the main draw seems to have been the royalty cheques generated by the 1977 hit. He commented: “I’ve heard Brian May makes, like, five million a year off that song. There’s your retirement plan: ‘We Will Rock You.’ ‘I don’t need to do anything this year because I’m going to make 5 million dollars a year off ‘We Will Rock You.’ ‘Fuck you.’ ‘Really? Go fuck yourself. I’m not going anywhere. I’ve got 5 million dollars for ‘We Will Rock You.'”
The five songs Taylor Hawkins wished he’d written
- ‘The Air That I Breathe’ – The Hollies
- Synchronicity II’ – The Police
- ‘Pigs In Zen’ – Jane’s Addiction
- ‘We Will Rock You’ – Queen
- ‘So Real’ – Jeff Buckley
Hawkins’ final choice stands at the other end of the spectrum: Jeff Buckley’s ‘So Real’, a song surely borne from deep introspection. “I wish I could sing it like him,” Hawkins said of Buckley. “I love that guy’s voice. That was my ‘getting some business’ CD back on the Alanis Morissette tour [in 1995.] I’d put that motherfucking CD in, and it was happening. I like it when he whispers, ‘I love you, but I’m afraid to love you’ in this song.”