Dave Grohl Was Afraid He Ripped Off Sonic Youth With Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’
"Everlong" is arguably Foo Fighters biggest song, but without some encouragement from Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon it might have never been released. Dave Grohl revealed as much during an appearance at Oates Song Fest 7908 where he delved into the background behind the track.
During his discussion of the song, Grohl revealed a guitar part that had stuck with him. "I'm not a trained musician so I don't know what that chord is or what you would call it. I can't read music. I'm not sure, but I immediately was like, 'Oh, that kind of sounds like Sonic Youth,'" he explained.
He later offered that the riff reminded him so much of Sonic Youth that he actually reached out to Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon to get their thoughts.
As Grohl tells it, "I recorded the song and I brought it back to the guys. I remember actually I played it for Thurston and Kim from Sonic Youth because I was deathly afraid that I'd just totally ripped off this Sonic Youth song somehow. And I said, ‘Oh Listen to this thing I just recorded, listen to this demo I just did.’ He said, ‘Why is that a demo? Why isn’t that on the album?’"
Grohl continued, "It just felt so off the cuff and unofficial that I considered it to be a demo. So then we went and we re-recorded it and that’s the song that you hear on the radio today."
As Foo Fighters fans know, "Everlong" really took off after Foo Fighters played an acoustic version of the track for radio stations which gave it new life. But Grohl says that playing acoustic was also something he never really considered as the song was coming together.
“I thought it was a rock song," said Grohl. "I think it was maybe the first time we did The Howard Stern Show. Howard Stern loved the song. And when you do the Howard Stern Show it’s 6 o’clock in the morning and you don’t want to touch an instrument but he asked that I play it acoustically. And so I did, and in a way, it gave the song a whole new rebirth."
"This was long after it was released. It gave the song a whole new life," said Grohl. "Because I think sometimes when I do it this way (acoustically) it really does peel back some of the bells and whistles and the other noise when it’s just the lyric and the guitar and my voice. I think it kind of makes the song feel the way I had always wished it had felt.”
"Everlong" ended up being the second single released from Foo Fighters' 1997 album The Colour and the Shape. The song hit No. 3 for Alternative Airplay and No. 4 on the Mainstream Rock chart. It's been certified as a double platinum single in the U.S. for over two million copies sold.
Watch below as Grohl shares his story of the song's history, then revisit both the original version and acoustic version in the players below.