Week 74: “Walking After You” by Foo Fighters

One of the big criticisms of Nirvana was that they couldn’t play their instruments. But the people making those accusations were missing two important things: first, that Kurt Cobain’s lack of ability on the guitar was kind of the point…the pendulum was swinging away from the guitar-wank solos of 1980s glam-rock. Second, they were overlooking Dave Grohl.

Grohl, Nirvana’s drummer, was not only an excellent drummer, but an all-round musician, and he proved it by forming his band “Foo Fighters” a year after Cobain’s suicide. The first two Foo Fighters albums featured Grohl playing every instrument on the recordings, as well as singing lead and backing vocals. As sales and critical acclaim piled up, people started to realize that Nirvana’s success wasn’t based on Cobain alone; Grohl had been paying plenty of attention back there.

What makes this a beautiful song:

1. The big cymbal. Throughout the song (especially the beginning), the only cymbal Grohl uses is a big, almost gong-like crash cymbal. It sounds like he’s hitting it with mallets, rather than normal sticks, to give it less of a “crash” and more of a “whoosh”.

2. The “oh-oh-ooooh” that makes its first appearance at 0:40, and returns several times, usually before the line “I’m on your back”. There’s something really sleepy about it, like he’s singing through the beginning of a yawn.

3. It’s like a grunge lullaby. I love the line, “…tangled in my blanket of clouds”. Who would have thought that Dave Grohl could emerge from the ashes of Nirvana and sing as delicately as this guy?

Recommended listening activity:

Tip-toeing to bed so you don’t wake anyone up.

Buy it here.