Memoir/Autobiography, Nonfiction

The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

Tales of Life & Music

I’ve been a fan of the Foos for as long as I can remember, literally. I was 6 years old when their (by their I mean Dave’s) first album was released and my uncle played it for me. This book came out right before said uncle passed away in October and it’s taken me a long time to pick it back up and finish it.

Synopsis

From the publisher marketing:
So, I’ve written a book.

Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (It’s a piece of cake! Just do 4 hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!) I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child.

This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement.

Courage is a defining factor in the life of any artist. The courage to bare your innermost feelings, to reveal your true voice, or to stand in front of an audience and lay it out there for the world to see. The emotional vulnerability that is often necessary to summon a great song can also work against you when sharing your song for the world to hear. This is the paralyzing conflict of any sensitive artist. A feeling I’ve experienced with every lyric I’ve sung to someone other than myself. Will they like it? Am I good enough? It is the courage to be yourself that bridges those opposing emotions, and when it does, magic can happen.

Review

This one was an emotional rollercoaster. Yesterday was the Foo Fighters’ tribute concert for Taylor Hawkins. This was the year, in my uncle’s honor, I was going to splurge for Foo tickets. They were supposed to be in Philly this summer and I was so excited. Obviously that didn’t happen and I didn’t make it London for the live show yesterday. I’ve said time and time again that if I could only listen to one band for the rest of my life, it’s be the Foo Fighters. Learn to Fly is one of my favorite songs of all time.

Dave grew up in the greater DC area and apparently fell in love with being on the road while driving on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on his way to visit family as a kid. I know that stretch of the turnpike well having travelled it for years back and forth from college at Pitt. It’s okay, I don’t know that it would make me love the road, but I get carsick and it has a lot of hills on that stretch through the Allegheny range of the Appalachian Mountains. But it is a drive ripe for the perfect car playlist and every playlist I’ve made since I first was recording on cassette tapes to now honing my playlist skills on Spotify has included the Foos.

I’m a millennial through and through, which means, unlike my X-er uncle Andy, I met Dave through the Foos, not Nirvana. I certainly soon became an expert in his epic drum riffs, but he was a guitarist for me first, which is a bit weird apparently. But I was a pre-memory kid when Kurt died, so it was heartbreaking to listen (because of course I listened to the audiobook of The Storyteller) to Dave talk about missing Kurt in the way that I’m sure he misses Taylor Hawkins now, and I miss my Uncle Andy.

Like Kurt Cobain, my uncle struggled his whole life with addiction and mental health issues. His death was sudden and the result of that addiction and mental illness. When I was a kid, we never talked about how people died if it had anything to do with addiction or mental illness, it was shameful and you were told it reflected poorly on your family to have someone lose their life to their demons. As a person left behind, you struggle to talk about your friend, your loved one, and listening to Dave talk about Kurt almost 30 years after he died, has helped me figure out a lot of my own feelings about my uncle, the man who introduced me to my hero Dave.

I always wanted a drum set when I was a kid but my parents, wisely for their own mental health, said no. I played piano, viola, and eventually, my uncle taught me how to play his guitar, a guitar that is now mine. In The Storyteller, Dave says music is the language many of us communicate in. Music is a way to tell a story, share and process feelings, and to connect to people. Reading The Storyteller has helped me process my feelings about my uncle more than anything else I have done in the last 11 months. But enough about me. While I’m eternally grateful to Dave for all his help, that’s only a small part of his memoir.

Dave Grohl has led a super cool life, but underneath the trips to the White House, touring constantly for 25+ years around the globe, chilling regularly with Paul McCartney and having a super cool mom, wife and kids, he’s just a big ol’ nerd and I love it. He fanboys with the best of them over the bands he loves, and he always seems like he is generally living in the moment and having a good time, making the memories that he so loving collects.

His stories are fun and while there is a great deal of “name dropping” which some may deride him for, the man has spent 30 years in the music business rubbing elbows with the best of the best and so I love hearing about Joan Jett just casually dropping by for a slumber party with Dave’s daughters, about Paul reading bedtime stories to them, and all of the regular life stuff that famous musicians do when they’re not on the road.

Will you enjoy this book tremendously if you are already a fan of Nirvana and the Foos, and Dave? Yes, of course. But if you’re lowkey obsessed with the music of the 90s, love a story about how a suburban kid struck gold by dropping out of school and following his music loving heart (keeping in mind his mom’s a public school teacher), or just love a great celebrity memoir/essay collection, then this is definitely the book for you. But listen to it, if you can. Dave reads it himself and their are magical musical moments throughout which I loved.

Rating: 8 out of 10

The video below is just a fan recording of Times Like These from the tribute concert, the Spotify playlist of of my favorite Foo songs.

Where to Buy
In the USA, I recommend purchasing through BookShop or your local independent, in the UK, and many other parts of the world, I recommend Blackwell’s, and if neither of those cover where you live, I recommend checking out your local booksellers! Independent bookstores are vital parts of every local community and I wholly endorse supporting your local stores versus Amazon.

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