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Overcoming Grief Through Music: Foo Fighters Tease New Music Since Taylor Hawkins Tragic Death

Written by: Stef Curran

Babe! This isn’t a drill! Foo Fighters released a teaser on social media!

Taylor Hawkins, iconic Foo Fighters drummer, passed away in 2022 and it was an emotional moment for all music lovers. It was a pain that was felt all around the world, especially from devastating yet beautiful performances by Dave Grohl and Hawkins' son Shane at the Hawkins Tribute concert in London and LA.

As the band rolled out their announcements for performances at summer festivals around the world, fans speculate if the band will release new music without Hawkins seated on the drum stool. As we have seen before with Foo Fighters leader Dave Grohl, death does not bring him down. In fact, it does the opposite.

April 12, 2023, the band released a teaser video with a sound clip, with the question “are you thinking what I’m thinking?” in faint font on a white background. If we’re thinking what they’re thinking, we may be soon listening to a new Foo Fighters album.

There are a few questions, of course, like will tracks on the album feature Hawkins, recorded before his death? Who will be playing drums on the album if songs are recorded after his death? Will it be Grohl, or the new drummer they choose to tour with them this summer? A myriad of drummers, perhaps? Maybe we could even get a Shane Hawkins feature! Who knows. All I know is that fans are ready and waiting.

Some people may find Grohl’s ability to “bounce back” after the death of his close friend and bandmate confusing, but it is something that Grohl has done in the past, of course, with Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain.

The situations are different, as Nirvana was already on a rocky track when Cobain tragically took his own life in April of 1994. Grohl, along with bassist Krist Novoselic, were struggling with Cobain's behavior and fight with addiction. The band was pretty vocal about their unknown future, and it was visible to fans that there was internal friction amongst the bandmates. Pat Smear, guitarist added to Nirvana to help lighten the load for Cobain in 1993 and now guitarist with the Foo Fighters, acted as a buffer between the two parties, but there wasn’t enough padding to help them overcome their obstacles.

When Cobain died in 1994, Grohl was deeply affected. Nirvana’s rise to fame will always be one of the most talked about in music history. Their hard work, especially Cobain’s, paid off, perhaps in more detrimental ways than realized. After Cobain's death, Grohl wasn’t sure he was ready to make music, but ultimately knew that it was his purpose. He took a collection of songs he had worked on during his time with Nirvana, released a demo, and soon the world received the first Foo Fighters album. This Is A Call was released in July of 1995, and was named after the first Foo Fighter single released, all about Grohl's internal call to continue music.

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Grohl and Cobain were close friends, of course, but the bond they shared was not as long, and I would argue not as strong, as the bond he shared with Hawkins. The two often referred to each other as soulmates, brothers, and took every opportunity to tell each other they loved and respected each other. It was one of the healthiest male friendships in music fans have seen. When Grohl stepped up to the mic to sing Times Like These at the Hawkins Memorial concert, the world witnessed the true, real time recognition of the absence of a creator, musician, and friend. For a moment, it seemed like Grohl could hang up his guitar, his drumsticks, his.. literally every other instrument invented that he can somehow play flawlessly, for good.

But fans know, there is no keeping Dave Grohl down.

And why should he stay down? He has been through a similar situation before, it's familiar terrain. He looked at his options, he assessed the world around him, and in the end he realizes that music heals him. Many people feel this, whether it be actually making music or listening to music, it has this healing quality that allows you to clear out the demons inside, and express yourself when finding the words to isn't as easy.

It isn’t confirmed if this is a new album, a new song, or maybe it’s just a late April fools joke, but fans have something to look forward to from one of the most influential rock bands in history.

Songs Dealing with Loss

Many fans have tried to decipher what songs from the Foo’s early catalog deals with loss, specifically Cobain’s. Grohl himself has only ever confirmed that he has written one song about his former bandmate, but there are many others that touch on what it is like to lose someone, in almost every emotion that can be spurred from the death of a loved one.

Here are a few of my favourites.

Friend of a Friend

Friend of a Friend from the Foo Fighters album In Your Honor is the only song that is confirmed to be about Cobain. More specifically, it was about Grohl joining Nirvana and moving in with Cobain. It was the first song Grohl wrote on an acoustic guitar with vocals.

In Your Honor was a different album for the Foos, as the first half is heavy hitting, powerful rock songs, while the second half is acoustic, softer songs. For some fans the album is hit or miss, but I believe this album harnesses what makes the Foo Fighters a truly amazing band; their ability to be versatile, yet still stay authentically Foo. I could get into their Dee Gee’s or their Dream Widow album, but I’ll save that for another article.

Friend of a Friend is an acoustic, heartfelt song about the past. A song that looks back at the beginning, where it really started for Grohl. While Nirvana wasn’t Grohl’s first band, it was instrumental in his launch into Rock and Roll fame. Listening to the song when released in 2005, there is no question this song has many lyrical elements that remind fans of Cobain, like “He needs a quiet room with a lock to keep him in. It's just a quiet room and he's there.” Cobain was known to lock himself in his room and play guitar, much like when he was a teen.

While this song refers to Grohl's first impressions of Novoselic and Cobain, and is not directly about death, there is no questioning the emotions that this song brings up when thinking about Cobain’s tragic passing.

Let It Die

Let It Die is the second track on one of the Foo Fighters most loved albums Echoes, Silence, Patience, and Grace. Let It Die is a powerful song, asking the question “why’d you have to go and let it die?”. Many fans have thought, and some still do, that the anger in this song is directed at Cobain's wife Courtney Love, with lyrics like “a simple man and his blushing bride,” pointing blame to her for “letting it die”, however, I think it’s deeper than that.

This song isn’t confirmed to be about Cobain, as Grohl’s childhood best friend Jimmy Swanson died in 2008 from an overdose, like his former bandmate and friend. The question of what is “it” in reference to in this song also isn’t directly answered, but I have a theory about what the “it” is.

Let It Die is obviously referring to drug use, with lyrics like “beautiful veins and bloodshot eyes”, but the real key to the “it” is when Grohl sings “Did you ever think of me? You’re so considerate.” While it’s easy to listen and think that’s Grohl calling out Love for not thinking about their friendship, it makes more sense to look at it as Grohl singing directly to Cobain, with the “it” being his love for music. The “me” in the above lyrics, I believe, are more so the band, or the music that Nirvana was making, rather than Grohl himself. Cobain replacing his love for music with his love for heroin let that love and passion for music fall, which fans saw around 1993, with Cobain canceling a lot of concerts and live performances due to his stomach condition, but also the repercussions of his drug use.

Simply put, I think Let It Die is Grohl singing to Cobain, asking the question into the void “why did you have to let that inspiration in you die? Did you ever consider what it meant to us as a group. Did you ever consider how much it meant to YOU?” Obviously it's all speculation and calculation on my dissecting of the song, but what is for sure is that this song is about questioning the “why” in death, and letting out the anger that bubbles up inside knowing you'll never getting an answer to that question.

I Should Have Known

I Should Have Known is the second last song off of Wasting Light, arguably the band's heaviest album (not counting Dream Widow). I Should Have Known has raw, deep, and guttural emotion built into every aspect, from the lyrics, to the appearances on the song.

Butch Vig, the star producer responsible for Nevermind, produced Wasting Light, and found himself blasted into the past when Grohl suggested bringing in Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic to play on the track. Vig explains he “watched them exorcise old demons” in the recording studio, bringing up past emotions and traumas to release them all on tape. Novoselic and Grohl have remained friends since Nirvana days and still jamming with each other. Novoselic also recorded for Grohl’s Sound City documentary project on a track called Cut Me Some Slack, which features Grohl, Novoselic, Smear, and Paul McCartney taking on vocals. Basically a Nirvana reboot with a Beatles member stepping in for Cobain. Very fitting.

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The song explores the regret side of death, how in retrospect, we think that maybe there was something that could have been done to change the outcome. Grohl sings “I cannot forgive you yet, you leave my heart in debt,” which really tugs at the fact we as humans can experience great sadness, but also anger towards the ones we lose. This song doesn’t specifically reference one person, but rather explores this feeling that Grohl and Novosellic have felt before from losing a close friend to drug overdose.

The most upsetting thing about listening to this song in 2023 is knowing that this wasn’t the last time Grohl would have to deal with the loss of a close friend. Grohl sings “I should have known, I’ve been here before,” which feels like an even harder gut punch, knowing he had to go through this yet again.

Times Like These

While this list could be longer, the last song I will highlight is Times Like These off of album One by One. This song, unlike the others in this list, is an upbeat song with groove to it, not one someone may associate with death. But when Grohl performed this song at Hawkins Memorial concert in London, fans saw the depth of the lyrics, leaving Grohl fighting back tears in front of fans all around the world. The words he was singing showed his healing process in real time, the same process he has had to repeat before.

“It’s times like these you learn to live again. It’s time like these you learn to love again.” The loss of Hawkins, Grohl’s brother, his partner in music and in friendship, someone he so publicly loved and respected, left him knowing that it’s times like these, times we lose someone or something, that we have to learn to get ourselves back on track. We have to learn to love again, we have to learn to continue on. “I’m a new day rising,” Grohl sings, as he reflects on the fact he is alive, and how he will use his time while he has it.

It’s a song that is not about death, but now shows the glimmer of hope we all seek when in mourning. A way forward, a way through the mud of death and grief, will bring a new day.

With Death Comes Rebirth

Grohl, and truly all in the Foo Fighters and Nirvana camp, knows pain and loss, but from that they create music that guides a light through the stages of grief, reminding fans that we all go through it, and we can all one day overcome it.

I think all us Foo fans can agree that Taylor would want the band, his brothers, to keep rockin'.


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