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Life, death and rock 'n' Grohl
Dave Grohl looks back on 20 years of playing music and talks about the birth of his daughter, the trapped Beaconsfield Miners and why Neil Young is his hero.
Peter Murphy, 10 Oct 2007
The other thing you can learn from Neil Young is that old man anger is three times scarier than 20-year-old anger.
“Oh-ho yeah! Hell hath no fury like an old man scorned!”
The subject of music being more important than life or death brings us to the story behind the instrumental track on Echoes…, ‘The Ballad Of The Beaconsfield Miners’, dedicated to two men who were trapped for a fortnight in a collapsed gold mine in the town of Beaconsfield, Northern Tasmania, April 2006. When Grohl heard of the miners’ request to have the Foo Fighters’ music sent down on Mp3 players, he issued a message via fax. It said, “Though I’m halfway around the world right now, my heart is with you both, and I want you to know that when you come home, there’s two tickets to any Foos show, anywhere, and two cold beers waiting for you. Deal?” (One of the miners took him up on the offer after a show at the Sydney Opera House last October.)
For Grohl’s songs to have had such a fundamental resonance still gives him pause for thought. Indeed, one can’t hear the story without remembering Luke Kelly’s version of ‘Springhill Mine Disaster’, with it’s lines: “We’ve no more water or light or bread/So we’ll live on songs and hope instead.”
“Music has obviously had a profound impact on my life over the years,” he says, “but to consider something that I’ve done to have that same impact, that power, is strange, personally. I don’t think about it that way. But when I heard about the Beaconsfield guys, someone sent me an email from Australia and told me what was going on, I mean the back story is incredible, but these guys are good guys, y’know? And they made it through a situation like that because they’re good guys. So I was honoured to be able to put that song on the record.
“And that was a huge moment for me because for once… it was really the first time that I felt like what we do is maybe bigger than pyrotechnics and lasers and beers backstage. It felt like what we do had been legitimised. I was really touched, I was very moved, and I wanted to pay tribute to or honour these guys for giving me something that no one else has ever given me before.”b