When Nirvana broke up after the tragic death of Kurt Cobain, no one expected Dave Grohl to become one of the best songwriters of his generation. Yet when a self-titled album was released in 1995 — an effort Grohl had written and recorded entirely himself — no one in the industry could quite believe it was him.
It may seem difficult to place Grohl’s songwriting influences from this debut album. Like his ex-boyfriend Cobain, Grohl clearly held a special place in his heart for the Beatles, but last year he gave us a glimpse of the clear influences on his songwriting. Discussing those who impacted his own creative vision, he claimed to be indebted to Bob Mold of Hüsker Dü. Grohl said of Mould, “Bob Mold should be placed in the highest ranks of America’s greatest songwriters and lyricists. You can argue that he’s just as influential as Tom Petty – he’s a classic American songwriter, who only writes from a different place than most.
Punk music was Grohl’s first sonic love, and he eventually played in the hardcore punk band Scream before joining Nirvana. Referring to punk, Hüsker Dü and Mould in particular, Grohl said: “When I discovered punk rock in the early 80s, there were bands that stood out for their heaviness, speed or dissonance. But Hüsker Dü, which was Bob Mould’s original band, had that classic sense of melody – it was almost like a punk rock band playing Byrds songs.
Obviously, the melodic nature of Mold’s Hüsker Dü songs touched something in Grohl, most likely related to this deep love for Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting. Grohl added:[Hüsker Dü] were the first punk rock band I listened to that had a double album – the Zen Arcade disc, which went from frantic buzzsaw thrash guitars to acoustic ballads. And having grown up with the Beatles and loving them white albumthere was something about that dynamic that I liked.
Grohl was, of course, known for his hard-hitting drumming, which is why the sensibility of early Foo Fighters production was all the more surprising, but he clearly took significant influence from Mould. He added: “If you go back and listen, you will hear his influence in the things that I have done. So much that I refer to Hüsker Dü in a lot of lyrics. In fact, Grohl had recently referenced Hüsker Dü on last year’s LP, medicine at midnight.
Fortunately for Grohl, he finally managed to meet his hero and express his gratitude. “I had seen him play in 1984 or 1985, but I was just a kid diving on stage and slam dancing singing along to the songs,” he said. “I finally got to meet him maybe ten years ago. I said, ‘I just have to thank you because I really got a lot out of your music.’ And he said, “I know”.
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