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"Everlong" is the second single released from the Foo Fighters' second album The Colour and the Shape, released in 1997. The song was conceived when Grohl returned home to Washington, DCmarker following the initial recording sessions for the album. It was eventually recorded as part of the second set of sessions, which took place at Grandmaster Recorders in January-February 1997.

During the instrumental break, three indecipherable tracks whispered by Grohl can be heard. The exact wordings are unknown, but according to the official Foo Fighters newsgroup FAQ, the source materials are a love letter, a technical manual, and a story about a studio technician's father.

Musical analysis

The song was written when the band took a 2 week break from recording after the initial sessions. Grohl wrote "Everlong" by himself at his home in Virginia. It is considered to be one of the best songs by the band and is highly acclaimed. Written in the key of D major, the song opens with a quiet, clean guitar playing the chords that will form the basis of the verse. A fast drum beat enters, which is joined by the same chords played with distortion. The verses are based on the progression I-vi-IV-vi, but with key differences to the chords. The D chord is played with an added C#, making it a major 7 chord, and this C# is retained as the bass changes to B, making a B chord with a suspended second, or a Bsus 2. This is followed by a Gsus2 chord. The ambiguity created by the suspended third gives the progression its sense of mystery and leaves it undefined whether it is happy or sad. The prechorus follows the progression I-V, but with an added guitar riff adding strength to the instrumentation as Grohl's vocals rise to a shout. The chorus uses the progression vi-IV-I (V-IV), a mainstay of rock music. The song ends on the IV chord (G major), and never resolves to the tonic as expected, giving the ending a somewhat unconcluded feel.

Music video

The surrealistic, satirical video for the song was directed by Michel Gondry. The running time of the video exceeds that of the original version of the song, so in order to accommodate this, the final chorus is followed by a brief interlude consisting of the last few seconds of the song played backwards, then followed by a repeat of the chorus. This version is used only for the video.

Although Taylor Hawkins appears in the video as the drummer, Dave Grohl actually plays the drum track on the original album recording, as Hawkins had not yet joined the band.

Plot summary

The video starts with a shot of two mysterious men heading towards a house and a view of the inside of the house with pictures of a happy couple all over the walls (played by Grohl as the man and Hawkins in drag as the woman). The scene ends in the bedroom with the couple sleeping in bed, and we begin to enter the dreams of each (which are all presented in desaturated colors, while the "reality" bedroom scenes are in black and white).

The Grohl character's dream takes place in a party (populated by people in punk fashion) in which he and the Hawkins character (in attire perhaps based on Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen) encounter two ill-intentioned men dressed like Teddy Boys (played by Pat Smear and Nate Mendel).

The video then transitions to Hawkins' dream (strongly reminiscent of The Evil Dead), where she is sitting alone in a shabby cabin deep in a dark forest while Grohl gathers logs outside. Hawkins is dressed in pig tails and a "Save the Whales" sweater, while Grohl sports a modest haircut and striped sweater. A hand suddenly reaches out from under the floorboards, frightening Hawkins.

The scene switches back to Grohl's dream, where Hawkins is harassed by the two men. As Grohl witnesses this he becomes angry and his right hand swells to an enormous size. He uses the hand to push away Smear and slap Mendel around as the party-goers watch in horror. He then beats up Smear, and both villains are shown on the floor before disintegrating in a flash of light. The two reawaken separately in the Hawkins dream, with Mendel in a basement, and Smear in the forest.

Back in the Grohl dream, Grohl and Hawkins flee from the party into a gray room filled only by a giant black rotary phone. As the phone deafens the couple with its ring, Grohl climbs it and tries in vain to lift the receiver. In "reality," he is awakened by his own bedside phone, which he answers only to realize that Hawkins is on the other end, calling from her own dream.

There, Hawkins is shown blocking the entrances in the cabin as the two villains try to break in, while an unaware Grohl continues gathering logs. Hawkins then frantically dials a phone, and the scene is intercut with shots of Hawkins (in the dream) and Grohl (in reality) communicating by phone.

After the villains successfully bind Hawkins to a chair, Grohl forces himself to fall asleep again in order to rescue her. He initially finds himself in another dream, lying in a bed with several women who have their legs spread over him. He then finds himself back in the Hawkins dream, with the legs turning into the logs. Some drop to the ground and leave him with two logs connected by a chain, resembling nunchaku. He runs up to the door of the house to find Smear (with a giant axe) and Mendel (with a chainsaw) about to kill Hawkins. Grohl brandishes the log nunchaku, and then drops them as his hand swells again. He beats up Smear while Hawkins sneaks away to grab a pan which she uses to knock Mendel out. The two exchange loving smiles before walking out and throwing the unconscious attackers into a small pond.

The video transitions back to the couple asleep in bed. The camera pans over to reveal the two villains standing over them ominously before coming out of their disguises. The alarmed couple wakes up, and the four group members finish playing the song together with their instruments in the bedroom as themselves.

Variations

A common feature of the electric live performances of Everlong involves Dave playing the first two verses and choruses on his own, with the entire band joining in for the final parts of the song. This can be seen on the Foo Fighters Live at Wembley Stadium.

Although the song is normally performed with electric guitars, vocalist/guitarist Dave Grohl's solo acoustic variation gained popularity after an impromptu rendition on Howard Stern's radio show in 1997. The band has performed it acoustically then and an acoustic performance concludes their 2006 live CD and DVD Skin and Bones.

A muzak version of the chorus appears in the opening and closing scenes of the band's music video for "Learn to Fly," from the subsequent album There Is Nothing Left to Lose.

Everlong has been featured in the popular music-themed video games Rock Band 2 and Rock Band Unplugged, and was used in promotional ads for the former. Guitar Hero World Tour contains the track and is exportable to Guitar Hero 5.

Covers

In 2009, the song was cover by Set Your Goals at the Hoodwink Festival, and another acoustic version was played in Grohl's home town of Warren, Ohiomarker in his honor.

The Baltimoremarker band OXES have covered the song many times, releasing it on their Half Half & Half 7", and also performing it on BBC Radio 1 during their first Peel session

The seventh-season finale of Friends closes with an acoustic version of the song; the performers are unknown.

Single

Tracks listing

CD1
  1. "Everlong"
  2. "Drive Me Wild" (Vanity 6 cover)
  3. "See You (Live Manchester Apollo 25 May 1997)"


CD2
  1. "Everlong"
  2. "Requiem" (Killing Joke cover)
  3. "I'll Stick Around (Live Manchester Apollo 25 May 1997)"


Credits



Reception

Chart positions

Chart (1997) Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart 45
Euro Hot 100 Singles Cart 36
New Zealand Singles Chart 34
UK Singles Chart 18
U.S. Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks 3
U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks 4


Accolades

  • Ranked #45 in Kerrang! magazine's "100 Greatest Rock Tracks Ever" (1999)
  • Ranked #39 in Kerrang! magazine's "100 Greatest Singles of All Time" (2002) (The magazine's editor complained about the song's position, claiming it to be "The best track ever to be imprinted onto plastic")
  • Ranked #22 in Stylus magazine's "100 Music Videos of All Time" (2006)
  • Ranked #28 in VH1'S "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs"
  • Ranked #9 in Triple J's Hottest 100 of All Time (2009)


References




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