Foo Fighters – My Hero, Live, Acoustic (Slow Version)

Slowing down “My Hero” puts emphasis on the lyrical emotion in the song and less so on the fast-paced nature of much of rock music. It’s easier to see Foo Fighters as artists than as hard-thrashing bros with guitars. Not that there’s anything wrong with hard-thrashing bros with guitars, but I like to believe my favorite artists have depth to their music.

Foo Fighters – Let it die

What gets me about “Let it die” is the jump in seriousness when Grohl bellows out:

Do you ever think of me?
You’re so considerate.
Do you ever think of me?
Oh, so considerate.”

It’s at this point the song gains new life and almost becomes it’s own animal from a calm poem to a rage-fueled storm of words. Supposedly Dave Grohl claims the song is not about departed Nirvana bandmate Kurt Cobain. Whatever the source of the anguish, it’s properly channeled in “Beautiful veins and bloodshot eyes” a likely drug abuse reference.

Foo Fighters – The Pretender

A fast-paced frenzy of self-assuredness and anger at apparent deception “keep you in the dark, you know they all pretend”, The Pretender gets going with “Send in your skeletons, Sing as their bones go marching in again” and keeps the beat until the song’s end. The Pretender doesn’t try to get too deep with the lyrics performing great as a fast-paced, angry rock anthem.

Pearl Jam – Sirens

Eddie Vedder and the musicians of Pearl Jam created an emotionally rich work with Sirens. “Sirens” puts out a more mature, old-man vibe than Pearl Jam’s earlier tunes. The climax of the song hits when Vedder admits the reality of death and what’s truly important in his life.

Want you to know that should I go,
I always loved you, held you high above, too.”

Pearl Jam – Even Flow

Even flow addresses the difficult reality that many of the homeless face today. Not only are they homeless, but they lack faith or mental/psychological stability to improve their situation.

“Kneelin’, looking through the paper though he doesn’t know to read, ooh yeah
Oh, prayin’, now to something that has never showed him anything.”

The end of the song features Vedder muttering about the protagonists’ own death. Probably minor commentary on how when a homeless man dies, it’s not considered the same tragedy as when a wealthy businessman or successful athlete/scientist/actor dies.

Kings of Leon – Coming back again

Coming back again (so far as I can tell) tells the story of an ex-lover resurrecting formerly deeply buried emotions.

I saw you right be-
Fore your eyes caught mine
Better than the rest

And I can feel it coming back again
I got a feeling coming back again”

Ex-significant others are a hairy situation in and of themselves, illustrated in the song : “you got me on the ropes, you got me on the ropes again.” Vocalist Caleb Folowill does an excellent job of guiding the song with his southern accent.

Audioslave – Be Yourself

“Be Yourself” found me over the radio in High School. The ever-grunginess of Chris Cornell permeates “Be Yourself” with contrasting dark and light stories:

Someone falls to pieces
Sleeping all alone
Someone kills the pain
Spinning in the silence
To finally drift away
Someone gets excited
In a chapel yard
Catches a bouquet
Another lays a dozen
White roses on a grave”

The message of the song, that regardless of good or bad, the only constant can be the self. You can’t control the weather, but you can control your attitude about the weather. It’s only a little ironic that Audioslave’s grunge-hit rings true with the Genie’s advice for “Prince” Aladdin in the Disney Masterpiece.

Arcade Fire – Ready to start

More indie than other entrants on the list, Ready to Start nails the (unofficial) grunge theme perfectly. If, then statements are important in philosophy for determining truth:

If I was scared… I would
And if I was bored… you know I would
And if I was yours… but I’m not

Now I’m ready to start”

“If I was yours… but I’m not” implies a freedom from a relationship “You say can we still be friends.”

“Now I’m ready to start” illustrates how the voice of the song can “start” his life away from being “yours” and instead be “his.”

Other, non grunge songs worth listening to include:

Of Monsters and Men – Yellow Light (The lyrics for Yellow Light make little to no sense to me. But I love the calm instrumental tones in conjunction with the general ‘guided by the light’ theme.)

We Were Promised Jetpacks – Keeping Warm (over 8 minutes long, most of the song is instrumental. Keeping Warm has a positive message for the listener “The chances of being born are so slim, so keep warm, keep warm.” And of course Adam Thompson’s Scottish accent sets WWPJ’s music apart from many other bands alone.)

B.O.B – John Doe ft. Priscilla (A rap song about prescription drug addiction, B.o.B is one of my favorite artists expressing self-awareness and generally less vapid song topics than many other rappers.)

Daughter – Medicine (It is a sad song. But sad songs are good every once in a while. Another song about drug addiction:

You could still be, 
what you want to be, 
What you said you were, 
when you met me.” 

The lyrics emphasize the distance between the addict and the burned lover in an infinitely better way than I just tried to describe on paper. Don’t listen to too much Daughter all at once or you’ll start wearing dark clothes and sipping coffee at Starbucks and waking up at noon everyday.)

Jamie Cullum – Don’t stop the music (Cullum’s jazz/pop rendition of the Rihanna song with piano accompaniment is simple yet striking. When I hear Jamie Cullum cover a song it almost sounds like the song was originally written for him to sing it, thus is his effectiveness with creative license in turning songs into his own creation.)

Maybeshewill – He films the clouds, pt. 2. (I learned about this band by watching this amazing video based on Max Manus, a notorious anti-nazi saboteur during WWII. The song itself doesn’t boast much in the way of lyrics, mainly entertaining for it’s instrumental work. Which is terrific and haunting.)

Dropkick Murphys – Rose Tattoo (A different feel from other songs on the list, Rose Tattoo made it to my workout playlist which means I generally don’t listen to it at other times so as not to confuse my pavlovian-trained brain. Tattoo’s written with lyrics of self-effacing “I ain’t winnin’ no one over”, and regret:

“Wore the faces of my own
I had these memories all around me
So I wouldn’t be alone”

Rose Tattoo expounds that behind the rough exterior and booze-ridden lifestyle, there is a man driven by selfless love for another whose life he values more than his own.

“I’ve got your name written here,
In a rose tattoo
In a rose tattoo
In a rose tattoo
Signed and sealed in blood I would die for you.”)

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