Listen, everybody. We in the drumming world have this term for Mr. Grohl. It’s “God.” I pretty much learned how to play drums by playing through Nirvana’s Nevermind and Foo Fighters’ The Colour and the Shape. Those are two of the most amazing rock albums of all time and largely because of Dave Grohl’s contributions as not only a badass drummer, but also a singer, songwriter, and guitar player.
With the upcoming release of an HBO show and yet another sure-to-be-amazing Foo Fighters album, the rock icon has been on my mind a lot lately. I make his musical offerings a part of my regular playlist and a mandatory part of my students’ drum lessons, so here are my top 5 beats laid down by the one and only Dave Grohl.
5. “Come As You Are”
I’ll be honest. The drums in this song are not the most complex — they’re just perfect for the song. Any good drummer knows that their instrument needs to be the backbone of the song. “Come As You Are” is a perfect example of this. It’s also on this list because I have an enormous soft spot for it as one of the first songs I learned to play.
4. “First It Giveth”
I almost shit my pants when I heard Grohl was playing with Queens Of The Stone Age. “No One Knows” is one of those songs that makes 100,000 people bounce without even thinking and the fills on the chorus are ridiculous. But “First It Giveth” just has that drive that makes me need to run, and that simple fill before the stop as the chorus begins is so perfect.
3. “My Hero”
This is one of the best rock songs of the last 20 years. What a ridiculously epic track. Similar to the bass-heavy beat of “Senseless Apprentice,” the beat for “My Hero” takes a more driving approach in the verse. The song itself is way more positive than the #4 song on this list, creating that uplifting feeling of being able to do anything. Seeing it played live by Taylor Hawkins is probably more satisfying than Dave Grohl ever thought possible. The sheer amount of tom work is insane.
2. “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
I know. I know. This is way too much of a “go-to” track for some people. It’s played on Jack FM, for christ’s sake. But it has one thing that makes its inclusion on this list impossible to debate: the fill. The opening drum part in this song is so powerful, anytime VH1 does a ’90s countdown or one of those documentaries about how grunge crushed hair metal, this fill is the moment when everyone realizes that this music was a turning point. That fill is a turning point in music.
If I had to pick a favorite song of all time (and thank god I don’t have to), “Everlong” would definitely be in the running. I am a total sap and love music that has that powerful emotion. I’m also a drummer and a freaking spaz, which makes this song absolutely perfect for me. The constant drive of the hi-hats in the verses make it one of the most moving parts in any rock song. When that chorus drops, it’s so heavy and delivers on every promise made by the verse. I really can’t thank Dave Grohl enough for more than 25 years of amazing music and indirectly teaching me to be a good drummer.