Lead singer of the rock and roll band the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl, has an interesting musical background. He is most famous for being the face of Foo Fighters, but he also was the drummer for 1990s rock band Nirvana. He lost his good friend Kurt Cobain to a drug related suicide, and it was through music that Grohl was able to become himself again. He started the Foo Fighters and rose quickly towards personal fame.
The Foo Fighters continue to release new music and tour worldwide, and many of their songs have earned a place amongst the ranks of the more rock and roll classics from the last two decades or so. Much of the music is emotionally driven and has deep meanings, which is helped with complex and classic rock and roll sound. Their songs cover internal and social struggles as well as themes like loss and perseverance. One particular song that exemplifies the emotion and depth of the Foo Fighters and Dave Grohl's voice is their single Everlong.
Rock and roll is a music genre not often associated with its captivating voices. Generally the genre is more known for its loud, boisterous yelling and dissonant instrumental accompaniment. However there are some cases where rock can be extremely personal and emotionally provoking. It is at these moments when the genre is truly captivating. Acoustic versions of popular rock songs tend to have to most obvious associations with intimacy and emotional depth. It is for this reason that Everlong stands out as Dave Grohl's most obviously captivating vocal performance.
The vocal control and ease at which his voice shows the song's meaning are what make Grohl's voice definitively captivating. He is able to take a song that is so clearly and fittingly hard rock and transform it into a personal performance that feels as if he is singing just feet away. His voice which is very unique and easily recognizeable from Foo Fighters' songs as loud and raspy is in this case softer. Even with the softness, the voice is still clearly Grohl's. His performance in Everlong and its acoustic version are direct examples of how Dave Grohl is as much a vocal musician and lyricist as he is a lead singer/guitarist of a rock and roll band.
This piece is a prime example of how Dave Grohl's voice is captivating in every sense of the word. Everlong is a classic hard rock and roll song in its original version. Slowing the tempo down here and using a simple arrangement of just the voice and the acoustic guitar yields a more intimate feel from the beginning. The tone of the vocals is also more intimate, as his breath is audible between phrases.
The intimacy felt in the vocals of the song comes from the control that Grohl has over his singing. He starts and finishes many sentences of the song with a fade in/fade out technique that begins and ends with a whisper-like tone. This technique puts the listener at ease. It feels as if the softer tone and slower tempo of his singing represents a lower effort technique. It is clear, however, that the emotional weight Grohl puts on each word and each phrase requires immense effort and control on his part.
While his smooth vocals roll from verse to chorus and back again, his guitar is used to help enhance the closeness of his voice. The song features a simple arrangement of just acoustic guitar with the vocals. The guitar is played slowly to match the singing, and the listener can hear Grohl' hands and fingers as they move about and play the guitar as well which contributes to the intimacy factor.
Everlong acoustic is clearly a complex piece. With its controlled soft yet emotionally charged vocals and its purposeful smooth guitar playing, the song itself is captivating. One can make the argument that it is Grohl's performance in the song and the way he performs it that makes it so captivating. His voice in this piece uses many different techniques which all contribute to the overall sense of ease and emotion with the performance.
This recording of a first-year college student helps depict how the guitar in Everlong's acoustic version helps compliment the voice. The chords flow into one another especially in the progression immediately preceding the chorus (featured in this recording). The sound of the guitar pick hitting the strings is clear, which gives a sense of closeness to the performer. His fingers sliding over the strings and frets of the guitar is also clear between notes which further builds on the intimacy felt in the piece.
The song's guitar builds heaviest and loudest into each chorus. This is no coincidence, as the chorus of the song is arguably the most emotionally charge and strongest in terms of effort (in the vocals). There are many muted notes which come with softer play of notes and lighter pressing of the frets. Each strum does not have the same power associated with the usual harsh sounding electric guitar. The sound of an acoustic guitar is lighter in general, but resonates just as long. For these reasons, the guitar in Everlong is nearly as important as the vocals in causing the sense of intimacy and emotion felt with the song.
This song is by all means rock and roll. From the hard dissonant sounds of the band to the loud, over-projected rasp of Dave Grohl's voice, the original version of Everlong is justifiably one of the band's most popular songs. Evident from the very beginning, the pace of the instrumentation is much faster than that in the acoustic version. This yields a more anxious and excited feeling in the listener. The volume of the instruments equals if not surpasses the volume of the vocals, which in turn causes the listener to feel more distant from the performance than in the acoustic version. There are also more instruments with drums, bass, rhythm guitar and keyboards present instead of just a simple guitar/vocal relationship.
Despite the major differences in how the song is played, the meaning of the song rains true. It's lyrics are still as powerful and deep, however with this faster rock and roll accompaniment there is less focus on the lyrics and more focus on the sound in general. The complexity of the piece demands more attention than the ease at which the listener hears the acoustic version. Grohl's voice is still captivating, and in this recording the emotion behind the lyrics is evident in the live performance.
Jack Johnson is a very successful recording artist and performer. His music falls into the folk rock or acoustic rock category, and tends to offer a generally mellow feel. His song Banana Pancakes is no exception, as it contains a smooth melody and vocals that flow effortlessly throughout the entire song.
His voice is similar to Grohl's in Everlong acoustic in that they both use the same breathy, lower-effort whiper type singing that gives a sense of closeness and intimacy to the performance. Like Grohl, the beginning and end of Johnson's sentences often fade in and fade out to a near whisper. This technique helps give both songs a subdued and relaxed feel. Their guitar playing is also similar, as both artists play accompanying melodies with their guitars that help bring the voice out in front of the instrumentals rather than in its place. The relationship between guitar and voice is the most similar between these two artists. Even though the voices are not the same, the songs differ greatly in tempo and overall sound. The way that both men use their guitar playing to build into their vocals is evident and gives an emotional depth to the songs in addition to everything above mentioned.
Green Day is a punk rock band that reached fame around the same time as the Foo Fighters did. Their music styles are somewhat similar; both using very fast paced and loud instrumentation and heavy guitar coupled with raspy yelling and powerful vocals. Green Day's lead singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, also likes to put deeper meanings behind his lyrics. Much of Green Day's music covers themes like political unrest, the plights of young adulthood, problems with authority, and other societal topics that are very controversial. One of Green Day's songs that steps away from that tendency and more towards deep emotions and intimacy is Time of Your Life, an exclusively acoustic song performed by Armstrong with his guitar.
Time of Your Life's performance is both similar and different to Everlong acoustic. On one hand, the slower guitar offers simple chord progressions and softer tones that help highlight the vocals, which is similar to Grohl in his single. The main difference is the tone of voice and overall captivating quality in this song (or the lack thereof). Armstrong's voice is very distinct and is very well suited for a loud band with strong vocals. In this piece, his voice does not change much except for in volume and tempo. The tone of his voice is not any different, which makes it harder to feel the closeness that the song attempts to achieve.