Recently, like many culture-defining personalities of the ’90s — Bill Clinton, Barry Bonds, Saddam Hussein — Dave Grohl has been thinking about his legacy. He’ll always be the young punk from harD.C.ore suburbia who became the rhythmic force behind the Band of a Generation. But he’ll also be the guy who parlayed his assets into his own project, complete with hit singles and funny videos. Grohl was in That Band for 43 months, becoming a notable sideman. He’s been a Foo Fighter for ten years in July, becoming f-you rich and famous. Now Grohl’s generation is staring down the barrel of their 40s and 401(k)s, and that last Foo disc brought the rock, but little else. So it’s time for a climactic double album.
Disc one of In Your Honor features the most consistent rockers of Grohl’s career, moving from the emocore he helped birth to the platonic alt-rock he pounded into shape. The title track is an anthemic benediction, all thick guitars and rolling drums, as Grohl poses the question that’s haunted him ever since he left That Band: “Can you hear me / Hear me screaming?” Grohl’s other problem is survivor’s burden. Dude could be singing about his dog, his car, or his mom; it’s all about Kurt to us. “The Last Song” is disc one’s emotional centerpiece. Over Taylor Hawkins’ massive drums and a slick riff, he bellows: “This is the last song I will dedicate to you / Made my peace and now I’m through.” So far, so cathartic.
Disc two is the acoustic one, a bid to establish his bona fides as a songwriter. Grohl is Zep fan enough to get John Paul Jones to contribute to the corny “Miracle,” while “Still” revisits a suicide from Grohl’s youth, and “Virginia Moon” ropes in Norah Jones for some jazzy swing. “I will say good night,” he sings over gently strummed guitars.
If Honor becomes the Foos’ swan song, Grohl won’t have fallen into the sun. Both these records chronicle the physical and mental graffiti of figuring out how to emerge from some very large shadows, including his own, with nerve and power. We await the biopic.