Dave Grohl is a fucking legend. That’s not hyperbole. He literally has made some of the most recognizable rock songs in my generation, and still continues to crank out memorable tracks, whether it be with Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures, guest spotting with Queens of the Stone Age, or releasing an opus of instrumental bliss under his own name, called Play. New to the stage is Dave Grohl the author, who has crafted an equally brilliant memoir entitled The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. What you may not know about Mr. Grohl is his ability to convey such a wide range of emotions in his writing. From the heartbreaking loss of close friends in his life, to the exuberant highs of getting married and having three daughters, all mixed in with his unique ability to write about his time in music with such fervor and passion for being a part of music history. I was not planning to read this memoir in one sitting from cover to cover, but that’s exactly what happened. And much like the stories outlined beautifully in The Storyteller, everything packs purpose, and lessons are learned along the way that makes the journey more important than the end or the start.
Having been no stranger to Dave Grohl’s musical history, from his humble beginnings as a kid lying about his age to join the Virginia-based band Scream on a coast-to-coast US tour, to his eventual culmination of leaving his hometown behind for a little band called Nirvana, even I learned tons of new nuggets of information about Grohl’s life that really made me appreciate the man that he has become today. He shows his beating heart at an early age by describing his first moment of being “star struck” with love, to later describing other moments of feeling like an outcast while being asked to fill in on drums from the likes of Iggy Pop to Tom Petty on Saturday Night Live.
Grohl miraculously remains grounded by his relationships in his life, both personal and professional, and it’s clear that his love for his mother (Virginia Grohl) whom he also helped pen From Cradle to Stage, remains a strong sticking point to the rock star to this very day. The great quotes sprinkled throughout this memoir are usually stylized in all caps, but there are plenty of “blink and you’ll miss great wisdom” from Grohl throughout these carefully crafted chapters. For example, when describing the foreword he wrote in his mother’s book, he said “DNA is a miraculous thing. We all carry traits of people we have never met somewhere deep within our chemistry,” and thoughts like that resonated deeper in me than I was originally expecting on this enthralling reading experience.
Dave Grohl, as much as he admits being haunted by the people he’s lost in the past, is still very much grounded in the present with his relationship with his mom, wife, and three daughters. I really enjoyed how he describes his love for each of his children, from attending a “mandatory” father-daughter dance the same night he has to play a sold-out gig across an ocean, to his amazement of seeing his oldest daughter take up the reins of his musical legacy with professional ease. His quote of “You are only as happy as your unhappiest child,” rings true in my own experiences with fathering three children and seeing their unique personalities in each of my kin.
The middle of the book is the most thrilling of rides, as he talks about the meteoric rise of Nirvana, to picking up the pieces of two of his closest friends’ deaths and forming the early stages of what would become Foo Fighters. His memories of touring stints with each of his projects feels like a man coming to terms with his mortality, and yet he feels like he has so much more to offer his friends, family, and the next generation of rockers that look up to him.
Being a self-professed music lover, Dave Grohl fondly looks back on his first vinyl record purchase of a Naked Raygun single called “Flammable Solid” that he purchased from a show he attended, and he never forgets his roots of where he came from. From his fond recollection of the first time setting foot in the legendary DC venue the 9:30 Club, to larger stages along the way like Wembley Stadium, to the infamous “leap of faith” in Sweden that led to the Foo Fighters’ rock throne tour, Grohl takes everything in stride and tells hilariously great stories, much like a comedian just shooting the shit with his best buddies after a show. From his dad yelling at him for dropping out of school to follow his dream saying that he will “probably do all the things that a kid your age shouldn’t do, like smoke cigarettes and drink coffee.” Grohl continues to be a steady hand, even as he confesses later of two caffeine-induced heart attacks that made him realize the fragility of life in general.
To getting star struck meeting Elton John to Little Richard, Grohl continues to show his readers that he’s a beacon of humanity at its finest. He’s just as human as the rest of us, with the same anxieties and fears that we all have. He’s just sold a lot more fucking records than any of us with musical aspirations would ever have dreamed of. From getting his daughters to look up to great people who just happen to be legendary musicians, like Joan Jett, Grohl showcases his overall likability by saying, “For in a world full of Barbies, every girl needs a Joan Jett,” further cementing himself as a great role model for his daughters’ growth.
The closing chapters come before you know it, and the conclusions Grohl comes to terms with are similar to what more rockers growing up should realize: it’s all cyclical. Music is meant, and always has been, to be shared amongst the people we meet along the way in this crazy thing called life. The acknowledgement section that closes out this delightful memoir from the Foo Fighters’ frontman does nothing to dissuade his readers and fans alike from realizing that he really is that same kid with the starry eyes looking up at his favorite musicians tear up the stage that made him realize he wanted to do music for a living. And what a life it has been and will continue to be “when life was picking up speed.”