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Book Review: The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

It’s Sunday the 28th August 2005, the sun has set over Bramham park in Leeds, I’ve spent the past three nights sleeping in a tent unwisely pitched on a hill meaning I’ve woken up every morning concertinaed in the bottom of it. I haven’t eaten anything other than crappy burgers in days, I don’t even want to think about what I’ve drank. I stink to high heaven and I’m definitely over the toilet situation. There’s a chill in the air and buzz too, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for all weekend.

I’m about to experience the Foo Fighters live for the first time!

Over the next few years, I’m going to watch this band over and over and over again. Every set will be as exhilarating as the first. They’ll all be different. 

I’ll become OBSESSED with this band and happily hand over my cash to watch them. Dave Grohl is one of my heroes.

Unbeknownst (obviously) to the Foo Fighters, they will become the soundtrack to my twenties and beyond, they’ll also be present at huge moments in my life. 

They’ll be there when Scott gets carried away and says “marry me” during their gig at Wembley in 2008, in his defence half of Led Zeppelin had made an appearance.

They’ll be there when he actually proposes during Everlong at Milton Keynes bowl in 2011 – thanks for the fireworks lads!

That same song will play acoustically when I walk down the aisle in 2013.

My Hero will remind me of my best friends Charlotte and Ronan.

Times Like These will become poignant during the pandemic.

Walk will bring me home, it’ll tell me that whatever is thrown at me, I can handle it.

Every single song will take me back to a field or stadium, rocking out with the person who means the world to me (that would be you, Scott) and the most important people in my life (my friends).

Their music will spark a million memories, it’ll raise a smile, it’ll keep me going through the tough times.

Goes without saying that I’d be reading Dave Grohl’s The Storyteller as soon as I could get my grubby hands on it.

Now, I’d always thought of Dave Grohl as a legend, he is someone who I would love to have a pint with, it’s probably one of my life goals. He always comes across as a genuinely nice dude. This book reaffirmed that. Here’s a man who takes nothing for granted.

“Sometimes I forget that I’ve aged.

“My head and my heart seem to play this cruel trick on me, deceiving me with the false illusion of youth by greeting the world every day through the idealistic, mischievous eyes of a rebellious child finding happiness and appreciation in the most basic, simple things”. Dave Grohl.

And that shines through while reading this book, a genuine happiness leaps off the page, even when things are going to shit and that is glorious to read.

This book surprised me. I knew Dave Grohl could play drums and guitar, I know he’s a phenomenal frontman, I obviously knew he was in Nirvana. 

I didn’t know he’d only ever had one formal music lesson (drums) in his entire life; as someone who has tried and failed to play many an instrument, that blows my mind. I didn’t know that he honed his drum skills by playing….cushions.

I didn’t know much about his days in Scream, the chaos that came along with that. I was hooked by the tales of living in a van, travelling across America; I mean who hasn’t at some point dreamt of doing the same? 

I never really appreciated how big Nirvana became overnight, I was six after all. I hadn’t given much thought to the intense the pressure that comes with being successful; everyone assumes it’s plain sailing after getting to that promised land, Nirvana shows it really isn’t and don’t just mean Kurt’s death.

These were three lads that had gone from being dirt poor – the three corn dogs a day diet sounds especially grim – to being adored the world over in an incredibly short space of time. How is anyone really equipped to deal with that? How do you reconcile being so successful when you’ve spent your life being the alternative outsider? There’s bound to be feelings of selling out, which Dave addresses.

Nirvana was a different kind of chaos to Scream, an intense rollercoaster that they weren’t prepared for. An experience that would shape his grieving process for life. You see a few weeks before Kurt died, Dave had been told he’d died from an overdose, only to get a call a few minutes later telling him that it had been a mistake.

“I now knew the earth-shattering pain of loss, but only for a brief moment before it was pushed aside like a hideous prank. My process of mourning was forever changed. From that day forward, losing someone close to me became a complicated exercise in waiting for that call to tell me that it was all just a mistake, that everything was fine, and then begging the pain to come to the surface when the phone never rang”. Dave Grohl

Let’s just say Dave and I have been in the same situation albeit in very different circumstances. Of all the things I thought I’d have in common with Dave Grohl, a mistaken death story and complicated relationship with grief was not top of the list.

Then obviously there’s the tragic way Nirvana ended with Kurt’s suicide. 

I can’t begin to imagine how anyone could deal with the death of a friend that it is so public. Going from hearing this beautiful soul writing music to there being nothing. 

How do you rebuild from that and how do you decide what’s next?

Luckily for me, and the millions of Foos fans the world over, by doing what you love, creating music. Recording that first Foo Fighters album without a band, by playing every instrument yourself, having the courage to turn down the sure thing and leap into the unknown.

“I was twenty-five years old and still hungry, not ready to relax into a “sure thing”. I still had the restless energy of a teenager, driven to thrive in the unknown even if it was frightening at times.

“So, I politely declined and decided that the cardboard box in the back of my truck was my key to a new life”. Dave Grohl

Even if you aren’t a Foo Fighters fan or even that big a music fan, read this book, I guarantee it will make you smile and laugh. 

Here’s a man who has lived, here’s a man who has a story to tell, here’s a man who’s grateful for the life he has. A man who sees the joy in life.

“But beyond any biological information, there is love. Something that defies all science and reason. And that I am most fortunate to have been given, it’s maybe the most defining factor in anyone’s life. Surely an artist’s greatest muse”.  Dave Grohl

Well Dave, thank you for the music, thank you for the years of happy memories, I hope you continue to be my soundtrack for many years to come.

P.S Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll certainly check out Preservation Hall if I EVER get to New Orleans.

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

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