I’m in the Sky Tonight: Dave Grohl's Stellar Songwriting

By Alex Rice

Dave Grohl might’ve been an astronomer in another life. He named his band after a WWII term for UFOs, put a raygun on the cover of his first LP and releases all his music through Roswell Records. Nine albums in, he’s still singing about the stars. These are his greatest sonic barrier breakers.

“Floaty” (1995)
Except for one Greg Dulli guitar riff, Grohl recorded the entirety of Foo Fighters’ self-titled debut by himself. “There wasn't too much time spent sitting in a chair thinking,” he told Classic Rock of its nonsensical lyrics. The spacey simplicity of “Floaty” (said to be inspired by UFOs) is gorgeous, only altering words to shift subjects before exploding into a Cobain-esque chorus. It’s hard not to picture Kurt when Dave gently sings, “He floats away.”

 

“February Stars” (1997)
During the winter of a dying relationship (Grohl’s first marriage was dissolving as he wrote The Colour and the Shape), the singer finds solace in celestial bodies. “February stars floating in the dark,” this slow-burner goes as the instruments swell like an otherworldly epiphany. It’s one of several instances on this revelatory record in which Grohl finds light where they seems to be none: the scars are temporary, but the stars are eternal.

 

“Aurora” (1999)
The constellations seem to conjure better memories on this beautiful ballad from There is Nothing Left to Lose. “Aurora” is actually named after the Seattle avenue where Grohl lived in the early ‘90s, but it’s hard not to imagine the majesty of a Pacific Northwest night during this nostalgic number. “Aurora” has everything that makes the Foos’ third album their best: cleanly distorted guitars, polished production, pristine melodies and lyrical clarity.

 

“Virginia Moon” (2005)
The bossanova bop hidden deep on the acoustic side of In Your Honor is one of the most unique tunes in the entire Foo Fighters catalog. Grohl’s love for multiple Virginias (it’s his mother’s name and his home state) illuminate this lunar lullaby, which features Norah Jones on vocals and piano. “Dearest constellation, heaven surrounding you,” their voices angelically coo. “Stay there, soft and blue.”

 

“The Sky is a Neighborhood” (2017)
This number-one hit from Concrete and Gold is an ode to the stellar sky of another state - Hawaii. “One night I was lying out looking up at stars,” Grohl explained upon its release. “Just imagining all of these stars as places that have life on them as well, and I decided that the sky is a neighborhood, that we need to keep our shit together in order to survive in this universe full of life.” Who could’ve guessed the Foo Fighter was a budding philosopher, too?

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Alex Rice is the founder of Bandbox. His writing has appeared in the Denver Post, Guitar World and Minneapolis's City Pages.