The Story Behind The Song: 25 years of the Foo Fighters masterpiece ‘Everlong’

‘Everlong’ by Foo Fighters is not only the band’s most significant track but also one of the definitive cuts of the 1990s. Released in August 1997, it arrived as the second single from their second album The Colour and the Shape, which is ostensibly their masterpiece, and it’s not hard to see why.

‘Everlong’, ‘My Hero’, and ‘Monkey Wrench’ are just three timeless singalongs that comprise that great record, and as a whole, it built on the foundations laid on their eponymous debut in 1995, taking the original formula and making it truly thunderous.

However, ‘Everlong’ is the standout moment on the record. With the earworm of a riff, Grohl’s otherworldy vocals in the verses, and the roaring chorus that everyone can get behind, this was the moment Dave Grohl truly cast off the spectre of Nirvana and the death of Kurt Cobain and entered a new chapter in his life. He was no longer ‘Dave Grohl, former drummer of Nirvana’ but Dave Grohl, frontman of Foo Fighters, and one of the greatest songwriters of his generation.

Famously, ‘Everlong’ is a classic in the sense of the word. Remarkably, at different points over his career, Grohl has explained that it took no longer than 45 minutes for him to tie it all together and that the track grew from a small idea he had discovered whilst writing ‘Monkey Wrench’ at Bear Creek Studios in Woodinville, Washington, in late 1996.

Messing around in the tuning of drop-D, Grohl stumbled upon this fucky little riff he deemed a great “Sonic Youth rip-off” as he felt it resembled their fan favourite ‘Schizophrenia’. He wanted to develop it into a fully-fledged track, so the band started jamming on what eventually became the verse but by the end of the sessions they hadn’t made much progress.

Soon after, it was Christmas time, and Grohl returned home to his native Virginia. He was going through a divorce, and so stayed at a friend’s house in a sleeping bag on the floor. It was here that ‘Everlong’ finally came together in 45 minutes on an acoustic guitar. Inspired by his intense, ongoing romance with Veruca Salt member Louise Post, the understanding Grohl had of his immense feelings at the time was a defining factor in the candid nature of the song that has managed to appeal to people of all walks of life.

Reflecting on how Post inspired the lyrics, Grohl told Kerrang! in 2006: “That song’s about a girl that I’d fallen in love with and it was basically about being connected to someone so much, that not only do you love them physically and spiritually, but when you sing along with them you harmonize perfectly”.

Sensing he was on to a winner, Grohl recorded a demo of ‘Everlong’ at a friend’s studio nearby in Washington, D.C. Later, he disclosed that he played all instruments on the song, and despite it being pretty much the same as the album version, it was “super raw”.

The time then came for Grohl to resume work on The Colour and the Shape, and he returned to the West Coast. He linked up with producer Gil Norton at Grandmaster Recorders in Hollywood and played him the demo. Unsurprisingly, Norton was blown away, and shortly after, band members Nate Mendel and Pat Smear returned to the studio, and they recorded the track. It is certain that none of them knew how consequential it was to be.

Still totally enamoured with Post, Grohl wanted her to provide the vocals. However, this proved tricky as she was in Chicago at the time. To get around this, Norton and Grohl resorted to some good old genius.

They recorded her famous “doo doo doos”, which are mixed in alongside the lead riff and her harmonised chorus vocals, by using two separate telephone lines into the studio, one used for her monitor and the other that was recorded. Grohl recorded his chorus vocals through a JT40 which made them a similar level of fidelity as Post’s, helping to create this unified body that sounds not dissimilar from what you’d expect on a Cocteau Twins cut.

The most interesting part of ‘Everlong’ is Grohl’s three spoken word tracks that were directly inspired by John Lennon’s propensity to insert random samples into his mixes, such as the iconic Shakespearean radio voices in ‘I Am The Walrus’.

One was a story from assistant engineer Ryan Boesch’s childhood that remembered him being punished for disturbing his father’s sleep, and the other two were Grohl reading random passages from a book. All three were intended to be blended together, but only Boesch’s made it into the final mix.

A timeless anthem that’s a mix of genuine genius, unrequited love, and a little bit of MacGyver-esque invention, many components comprise ‘Everlong’ that confirm it as the most complex and brilliant piece in Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters’ back catalogue.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like