My brain has two emotional parts. They’re hard to explain on their own so I just call them Kurt and Dave. You see where I’m going with this, right?
Foo Fighters are one of my favorite bands. They’re really interesting when you think about. Not grunge like leader Dave Grohl’s former group Nirvana, yet harder rock than “pop-rock” played on Top 40 radio today. They’re almost a rarity. Maybe that’s part of the appeal.
But they’re also in danger of being compared to Nirvana. And that’s silly. They aren’t even really Nirvana’s younger brother. Nicer? Sure. The difference in the bands can be traced back to their respective leaders, though. Kurt was the moody frontman of Nirvana with songs of deep self-loathing and depression. Dave was just the happy-go-lucky drummer in the background. In fact, he claims that during the era of Nirvana he could have walked into any public space and not been recognized.
Nirvana was Kurt’s band. And when he took his own life Dave stopped playing music for a while. His friend was dead and his group was over. That’s something that’s hard to come back from, understandably. Eventually, though, Dave did come back. He recorded an album and formed his own band (yes, in that order). And although Foo Fighters could have been a carbon copy of Nirvana; it wasn’t. Because Dave and Kurt were not destined to make the same music.
Why the brief music history lesson? Because I find it odd being a fan of both Foo Fighters and Nirvana. For one specific reason: Kurt wrote about failures. Dave writes about hope.
In my recent personal turmoil, I’ve listened to a lot of different music to make me feel better over the last few weeks. Most of it has been dark, like Nirvana. Kurt caters to the dark compartments of my mind, my demons. He knew how to perfectly sum up what it feels like to be lonely. He knew what it was like to feel too much and be misunderstood. What it’s like to be truly heartbroken. I quickly realized in my downward spiral of sadness, though, that for every “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle” there needed to be a “Learn to Fly.”
By contrast, Foo Fighters lyrics look to the future. They’re not without their sharp observations of the world, but they give off meanings of joy and the idea that happiness is more important than feeling sorry for yourself. They’re the happy-go-lucky drummer in an otherwise deeply troubled mind of a 23-year-old. As much as I need the Kurt side of my brain to cope, I need the Dave side more.
I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I’m not one that dreams a lot, or at least remembers what my subconscious is up to while I’m passed out. But with recent circumstances I remember my dreams every night. They feature the same person, unsurprisingly, and always end badly for me. They’re not fun and I usually wake up around 3 a.m. and can’t fall back asleep.
In those moments in the middle of the night when I can’t turn my brain off I pull out my Nirvana albums. Or at least I used to. Until I realized that for all of Kurt’s self-loathing that I needed to feel better, I also needed Dave to pick me up when it was over. So this week when my dreams continued and I was rudely awaken, I turned to Foo Fighters. And suddenly things took a turn.
“Do you ever think of me? You’re so considerate.”
Angry Foo Fighters is great. It’s pointed anger that still has a solution. Sometimes things are left to die, but somehow that isn’t the end. There are lots of things that come after love that dies. Contrary to what Cher may think.
“Metronome, I want out. I’m alone and I’m an easy target.”
Although Nirvana music heavily focused on the idea of being alone, Foo often explores that idea as only temporary. Something that needs to be dealt with to move on. A state of being that can’t be permanent because it’s not in a human’s nature to wallow forever. Thank goodness.
“Easy for you to say, your heart has never been broken. Your pride has never been stolen. Not yet.”
In times of great personal turmoil it always feels like no one understands how you feel. You can tell your best friend and mom about your heartbreak, but most of the time they never know quite what to say. And the person who did the heartbreaking? Yeah, he doesn’t understand either. Not yet, anyway.
“I’m learning to walk again.”
“You are not alone dear loneliness. You forgot but I remember this.”
Again, Dave usually treats loneliness as a state of being that will not last. And every time I feel heartbroken and confused at 3 a.m. after having a nightmare about him, I listen to this song. Because it’s easy to forget that loneliness doesn’t last. But then I remember that stranger things have happened.
Thanks Dave. And Kurt, of course. You save me everyday. And just wait until I start my Hole-stage of healing. Because “Territorial Pissings” ain’t got nothing on Live Through This.