My Thoughts on “Sonic Highways”


So this is the eighth album by Foo Fighters. It’s no secret that 2011’s Wasting Light was pretty much perfect. The follow-up is always tough to a perfect album, and it sucks that no matter what it won’t be better. But that doesn’t necessarily make it bad.

The Sonic Highways project was ambitious, no doubt. The accompanying HBO series really shed light on the album, and actually makes the album a lot better. Especially for me, I love to decipher song meanings and lyrical references, which this album may have broken the record for most lyrical references. But catching on to those references can’t be done unless you watch the HBO series, which isn’t a burden by any means. As a fan of the band and music in general, I couldn’t wait for it. As a student at the Zoo, the Friday night-time slot didn’t exactly fit my “schedule”, but that’s why streaming was invented.

Moving on, the series clearly explains every song. You catch the little nods, and it truly brings the beauty out of the album. For instance, what the hell is the river reference? Well, that came from an interview with none other than our great leader.

Critics didn’t like this album. They said that for an album as ambitious as this, “it’s just another Foo Fighters record”. They were also pissed that the references were all lyrical. They don’t play like any of the musicians they were worshipping throughout the series. Well for me at least, those same reasons are why I love the album.

First off, it’s, “just another Foo Fighters record”. Exactly. It’s another Foo Fighters album. I’ve been in need of a fix for three years, and it finally came.

Second off, yes. They didn’t change their sound. And they shouldn’t. Them making this record without changing their sound is amazing. I would’ve been like Adam in the Garden in a place like Nashville. It must’ve been so tempting to write a country song there, especially around people like Carrie Underwood and Zac Brown.

And finally, the lyrical references were the way to go. When they perform the song at the end of each episode and you can remember people like Gary Clark Jr. talking about the X’s on their hands when they performed underage in 21+ venues (‘What Did I Do?/God As My Witness’) is very appealing. They’re present in every line of every song, and it’s truly an artistic endeavor.

So no, it’s not their best record, but it’s pretty damn good. Considering the ambitious nature of the record, the Foo Fighters stayed true to who they are. And that’s what’s important here. But more importantly, they showed that no other country has as much musical diversity as the United States. From D.C. punk rock to Seattle grunge, and Austin blues to New York hip-hop, there’s no other place in the world with assorted musical expression. As symbolized in “I Am A River”, all these methods of expressing music are like rivers, rivers running alongside one another. And Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, and rock music are just one of them. They aren’t going to change their sound, and jump into a river they can’t sail down. That’s why there are artists like Willie Nelson, Cheap Trick, Trouble Funk, Beastie Boys, the 13th Floor Elevators, Pearl Jam, The Black Keys, Zac Brown Band, Heart, Gary Clark Jr., and so many others that were praised in this project. Stay in your own damn river. Or be the river.

Stray Thoughts:

– I’m not sure I consider eight songs an album. My understanding was 10 or more, but it’s fine when Foo Fighters do it. But not when Coldplay does it.

– I’m still pissed Boston wasn’t one of the cities. Aerosmith, Dropkick Murphy’s, Bosstones, BOSTON, Pixies, the Cars, New Kids on the Block, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch… THE LIST GOES ON!!!

– I knew the seventh episode (Seattle) would be sad when it inevitably got to Kurt… R.I.P.

– Did anyone notice in the South Park season finale when Kurt’s hologram is singing,a tweet at the bottom is from @D_Grohl77 and it includes #courtneydidit… haha.

– One of the guys who worked at the Magic Shop Studio in NYC (‘I Am A River’) actually died in the 9/11 attacks.

– How did Krist not make an appearance in this?!?

– In the final minute of the New York episode, Obama says, “…it’s about people rejecting what’s already there, to create something entirely new.” as a clip of Kurt Cobain playing and singing lyrics written in a piece of paper taped to the wall is shown… sad moment.

One thought on “My Thoughts on “Sonic Highways”

  1. Ali Walker says:

    I think my issue is that Dave Grohl shouldn’t have made the series tie in with a Foo Fighters record – he compromised too much to satisfy his bands need to work. He should have just done the documentary, worked with 4 or 5 musicians from each town on a song and released the collection as a solo record. Make no mistake, the album absolutely sucks, he was clearly distracted, tried too hard and he put too much pressure on himself to deliver songs which didn’t come naturally. That said Sonic Highways is an amazing and inspirational series.


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