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The Foo Fighters songs inspired by children's music

Dave Grohl first became a father in 2006. Since then, the Grohl family has expanded to two more children, meaning parental duties were never far from Grohl’s mind at any given time. Here was the world’s loudest rock star having to figure out how to change diapers and keep the noise down so that the babies could sleep. It was impossible for Grohl’s state of mind not to come out in the Foo Fighters, and once he was a dad, inspiration came from all new places for Grohl.

The first time children’s music became an obvious source of artistic creativity came in the 2007 song ‘The Pretender’. As the first single for the band’s sixth studio album Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace, ‘The Pretender was a major hit on alternative rock radio and gave the band its third, and to date final, top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It also had a clear melodic reference in its chorus: ‘One of These Things Is Not Like the Other’ from Sesame Street.

“I think I was subliminally forced into writing the chorus from that song,” Grohl recalled in an interview. “‘The Pretender’ is a lot like this children’s song, ‘One of These Things Is Not Like the Other’. I remember writing that song and thinking, ‘Man, I think I heard that before.’ And then Chris, our guitar player, he said, ‘Dude, that sounds a lot like that Sesame Street thing.’ And I said, ‘I’ll use it. That’s a hit!’”

It wouldn’t be the final time that Grohl made a reference toward kid’s music either. The nursery rhyme ‘Rain Rain Go Away’ has been circulating since at least the 17th century, with variations often being used in media aimed at younger audiences. It’s not exactly in the same hard rock genre that the Foo Fighters thrive in, but Grohl nevertheless interpolated the couplet on the band’s 2011 song ‘Arlandria’.

‘Arlandria’ was named after Grohl’s hometown neighbourhood in Virginia where he spent most of his youth. Although the song is a bite back at the things that helped form your identity, for better or for worse, Grohl went for a rosy bit of nostalgia when he looped in the ‘Rain Rain Go Away’ melody for the song.

“There’s something about the sing-song cadence of children’s music that has its place in rock,” Grohl told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. “Kurt [Cobain] used to talk about that. He used to try to simplify songs so that they sounded like nursery rhymes. He put so much importance on melody. He really downplayed his lyrical skills. He always said, “Melody first and lyrics second.” In his case, I thought they were both equal, you know. But there’s something about nursery rhyme patterns that are just undeniable.”

Children’s music fits right into the Foo Fighters’ cool-to-be-uncool dad-rock image. This is the band that recorded their own version of the Fraggle Rock theme song, after all.