Turn That Fucker Up!!

Sooner or later someone will ask this question, so I’ve been pondering the answer in anticipation.  How did the Foo Fighters become the be-all and end-all band for me?

If you don’t know the Foo Fighters, you can Google them or check them out on Wikipedia.  They’re not new to the American music scene; in fact they’ve been around for nearly 20 years.  But in the spring of 2011, with the release of Wasting Light, they were new to me.

After college, my rock and roll soul took a long vacation.  I spent most of my child-bearing years listening to Top 40 radio and lots of pop music (at least after my kids were old enough to stop listening to Raffi and the like.) People like Seal, Sting, Bryan Adams and Phil Collins. Terrific singers, all.  But once my kids hit their teen years, they protested my musical selections in the car, and we were always in the car.  They wanted to listen to THEIR music!  And honestly, I was getting a little restless, too.

Over the next few years, I took to digging around in their CD collections, looking for something that I thought might be intriguing.  I took a particular shine to Queens of the Stone Age.  I nicked two of their albums, Songs for the Deaf and Era Vulgaris, from my son’s room one day, with his permission – he had everything on an MP3 player. Nobody listens to actual CDs anymore, Mom.  Duh!

I loved QOTSA. I loved Josh Homme’s voice.  Loved the rhythm.  Cranked the volume as high as I could stand it.  What’s that saying? If it’s too loud, you’re too old? Not me, baby. Turn that fucker up!  And it was the Queens of the Stone Age, and Josh Homme’s side project, Them Crooked Vultures, that ultimately led me to the Foos.

While the Foo Fighters were busy releasing a new album that spring of 2011, I was fighting a strangely paralyzing combination of restlessness and depression.  I was in a state of melancholy.  I’d just been passed over for a promotion. My husband had recently taken a job which had him traveling 2 weeks of every month, and the constant separations were hard on me. My kids were around, but grown and doing their own things.  I felt gloomy and stuck and directionless.

Not knowing what to do, I did nothing.  But while I was doing nothing, I decided to find something new to listen to.  No new QOTSA. No new Vultures. Damn.  What next?

One slow day at work, in a desperate attempt to stay awake, I started watching live performance videos of the Vultures.  I’ve always had a burning desire to learn to play the drums, so when I watch musical performances, I watch the drummer. The guy behind the Vultures’ kit was a fearsome creature who had the most magnificent mane of shaggy hair I’d ever seen. My CD case told me this was Dave Grohl. I was mesmerized.  I Googled him.

Drummer for Nirvana? I knew who Nirvana was. Guest drummer on Songs for the Deaf? I loved that album! Founder and front man of the Foo Fighters?  Wait…who? And really, the drummer sings? Well, Phil Collins did it with Genesis. Might be worth a listen. It wasn’t like I had anything better to do.

I found a YouTube video of the Foo Fighters performing on The Late Show. The drummer was not Dave Grohl – Dave was out front with a guitar, in fact. They performed “Rope,” and I was impressed enough to buy their new album the next day.  I listened to it several times in a row. And then over and over again.

The following week I went to Best Buy and bought every Foo Fighters CD they had.  What they didn’t have, I ordered online.  Eight albums total – seven studio albums and a live acoustic concert they had performed in L.A.  For the next few months, I immersed myself in Foo Fighters music.  I listened every day. I learned every song, every note. And inexplicably, while I was listening, the fog around me began to lift. I started to feel better.

I was still alone frequently, but that was okay, because the Foo Fighters were filling that space with music.  Just hearing them made me feel less lonely. After a while, the promotion I’d missed out on didn’t seem to matter much. I started thinking maybe it was time to look in other directions, and that maybe I should start working on my master’s degree.

I’d considered it several times before, but always shied away because I was so fucking intimidated by the idea of taking the GRE.  But this time, for some reason, I wasn’t so freaked out anymore. I bought a few study guides. I read through the math sections several times. I picked a test date and registered for it, and I enrolled in grad school on a provisional basis, so I could take a few classes and get my feet wet. I did all of this while listening to the Foo Fighters.

Their music gave me hope. And confidence. And courage, I suppose. I was becoming a braver, stronger, more bad-ass version of myself.  I was still me, just with a brand new set of brass balls!  I took and passed the GRE. My math score was not great, but it was enough to be accepted into grad school as a ‘degree-seeking’ student.

As a present to myself for completing my first 6 hours of school, I started a sleeve on my right arm.  I have other tats, but the idea of a sleeve was always daunting to the old me. No more, though. New and improved me was ready. 18 hours of chair time.  I gritted my teeth, practiced deep breathing and listened to my band through all of them. My sleeve is a depiction of the solar system with a fierce purple dragon woven between the planets. Oh, and Mars is a Foo Fighters logo.

So, here we are, a blog post later, and I still haven’t answered the question.

Why the Foos?

I don’t know.

I wondered for a long time, but finally decided ‘why’ didn’t matter. Some things you just learn not to question.

But something clicked. Five guys that I don’t know, who’ve been making rock music together for nearly two decades, touched a chord in me.  They brought me back from a dark place.  Maybe there was a void in my soul, and the only thing that fit there was Foo Fighters music.  Again, I don’t know. But I do know this.

They triggered a profound change in me.  And I’m pretty sure they saved my life.

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