It while Dave Grohl was sitting in an isolation booth between takes during the recording of the Foo Fighters second album, 1997’s The Colour and the Shape, when he started to noodle on his guitar.
The chords ended up being one of the most beloved tracks ever written, and the most-performed live, by the band.
“If you’ve ever been in the studio with a band for a long period of time, and you’re recording multiple songs, there’s a lot of time just sort of sitting around waiting for something to happen,” Grohl said.
“In that time, I remember sitting in an isolation booth, looking out at the other guys in the band, waiting in between takes to play… and I just started playing this chord [strums guitar].
“Now, I’m not a trained musician, so I don’t know what that chord is, but I immediately thought, oh that kind of sounds like Sonic Youth.”
(Grohl ended up playing it to Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, as he was concerned he’d “ripped off this Sonic Youth song somehow.”)
“At the time I was breaking up with a girl I had been with for a while, so I was sort of in the middle of this intense emotional period,” Grohl recalled.
“For whatever reason, the emotion or the feeling I got when I would play this succession of chords sort of touched on whatever that emotion was, so we continued recording.
“In the meantime, my relationship ended and I was in a very difficult place. I remember, it was right around Christmas. I went back to Virginia, where I grew up, and at this point the song had sort of evolved into [plays guitar]…Because of the emotional place I was in, I started writing the lyrics to the song and they come from a real place.”
Grohl wanted to record it quickly so he didn’t forget it, and called up a friend in Washington DC who was a sound engineer.
“Without having it fully formed, I just kind of went in. I put down a drum track. I put down guitar and bass. And I sang it into a microphone for the first time,” he said.
“And it did seem to make sense. The lyric and the melody, at the time where I was emotionally, it all made sense.
“And I think that’s what songs should be. They should be something that not only the tone or the melody or dynamic of the instrumental, but also the lyric, match in a way that represents how you feel at that moment.”
After recalling the first time he played the song acoustically, Grohl said “it gave the song a whole new life. I think sometimes when I do it this way, it really does peel back a lot 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 always wish it felt.”
Watch Grohl’s emotionally-charged acoustic performance of ‘Everlong’ here…