As I probably mentioned once or twice, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the release date for Sonic Highways, the much-anticipated eighth studio album from the Foo Fighters. And like a lot of other Foo faithful, I gleefully pre-ordered my CD well in advance of the November 10th release date.
Three months in advance, to be exact. Ages ago, back in the summer. I don’t even think Costco had its Christmas decorations out on display yet.
I didn’t just order the CD, either. I ordered a mega-bundle. That’s a CD plus a bunch of other goodies. There were several different mega-bundles available, but the one I ordered had the CD, a Sonic Highways t-shirt, and a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle depicting the album cover.
Don’t laugh. I love puzzles. They are a regular Christmas tradition at our house. And I’m eagerly anticipating my holiday break, when I will spread all 1,000 pieces out over my dining room table and spend hours putting it together. Once it’s assembled I’ll be having it framed and hanging it in my Foo room.
Of course I have a Foo room. You don’t??
But I digress…
They say all good things come to those who wait. So on August 12th, I placed my pre-order, and got on with the waiting. It’s been busy around Casa Verde for months now, so I didn’t spend a lot of time pining for my CD. I knew when it was coming, and I had plenty to keep me occupied until then.
Finally, the big day arrived. Sadly, the mega-bundle didn’t. And I was very disappointed. But I kept the faith. I knew it would show up the next day, surely.
Only it didn’t. An email from the promotional outfit that was handling the distribution did, however. REJOICE!! My mega-bundle had shipped, it said! From somewhere in California! At 5:17 a.m. on the morning of November 11th!! And it should be arriving by Friday, November 14th!!!
According to the email, the album, which, you recall, became available in wide release the day prior, would not be arriving at my door for THREE MORE DAYS!
Well, of course! It made perfect sense. Because I, just like thousands of other Foo fans, had pre-ordered three months in advance, paying a premium for the privilege, I was now getting a special gift from the promotional company, the chance to enjoy my new Foo CD four days after the rest of the world!
I wasn’t sad anymore. I had fully transitioned to furious. Further inquiry indicated that the promotional folks had encountered some problems with other items in the mega-bundle, and were not able to fill all the orders and ship on time. It went something like this:
“We’re sorry. We had no idea so many people would actually WANT this stuff when we opened up the pre-sale three months ago. But we know you won’t mind getting your music four days after the rest of the world has it! Have a nice day!”
Obviously this outfit had no idea what kind of rabid, maniacal bunch the rowdy Foo Nation can become when deprived of our music. It wasn’t just me, either. Fans the world over were pissed.
Maybe all good things do come to those who wait, but I’d had enough waiting. After a certain point, waiting just sucks. By Tuesday evening, I was a full 24 hours behind the curve. I could have downloaded it from iTunes, like all those other saps who didn’t pre-order, but since the Suzuki died, I’ve been stereophonically limited to the Camry’s CD player. Mark was on his way out to a meeting, so I asked him to stop at Best Buy and pick up a copy for me. Mega-bundle be damned, I was not waiting any longer for my music. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Mark came home a little later than expected, and I was tired and cranky from all the snarling and growling and tooth-gnashing I’d been doing. My frame of mind was not worthy of the experience. So I didn’t get my dark, cozy listening room, and I’d finished my Woodchuck well before he arrived with the CD. As much as I hated to, I chose to wait until the next morning.
Yes, more waiting. But at least it was on my own terms at that point. And somehow, just having the CD in my hot little hands was enough. It calmed me. Apparently, I no longer have to be listening to Foo Fighters music to be soothed by it.
My first Sonic Highways listen didn’t happen as I intended, but it happened. My journey began with my commute to the office, transitioned to my computer workstation upon my arrival, and remained on repeat throughout the day. There were interruptions along the way, and I still had to hear it through my crappy desk speakers. But I heard it.
And I was completely captivated by it. Shocker, right?
This is the first time the band has recorded a concept album, and these eight songs reflect a distinct feel for the cities that inspired them. And even though this particular album is a conceptual departure for the Foos, the songs themselves have lost none of the special feel that Foo Fighters fans know and love.
There are big guitar parts – Dave Grohl, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear don’t hold anything back, and they’ve got plenty of help from an array of special guests: Rick Nielsen, Zac Brown, Joe Walsh, and Austin’s own Gary Clark, Jr. Lots of amazing drumwork, but you’d expect no less from Taylor Hawkins. And Foo bassist Nate Mendel ties the package together neatly with a strong bass line.
Toss in a visit from the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (on the New Orleans-inspired “In the Clear”) and a string performance from the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra (providing a goosebump-worthy finale on “I Am a River”), and you’ve got a pretty spectacular musical melting pot.
Throughout, Dave gives us strong and thoughtful lyrics, with specific references to people and places woven in perfectly, in support of the album’s unique concept.
In short: I’m pretty enamored with Sonic Highways. Bravo, Foo Fighters, bravo!
But what are the reviews saying about this album?
I couldn’t tell you. I haven’t bothered to read any. I’ve yet to read an album review that I could understand, what with the tendency of music critics to toss around incomprehensible descriptors and overly technical statements that don’t make sense to the average reader. Why would I bother?
And besides, there was never any question about this album for me. I would have bought it under any circumstance. Hell, I’ve already bought two copies! And if I don’t figure out why my iPhone and iPod aren’t syncing Sonic Highways from my computer, despite the fact that I updated both devices yesterday, I’m going to end up shelling out for a digital copy. C’est la vie!
Besides, I’ve already re-homed one of my CDs. Celeste was home last weekend, and was happy to take it off my hands. She has good taste in music, after all.
I wonder where she got it?