Book Review: The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

Book Review: The Storyteller by Dave Grohl

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The last time I remember reading and connecting with a musical memoir like this was with Hollywood Park, but Grohl’s story is immediately a happier read. I absolutely love his joie de vivre, his unapologetic enthusiasm for life. The Storyteller is a joyful, irreverent, triumphant look at a life lived hard and fast but well. And hearing it told in Grohl’s own voice added even more power to a rocking story. This is one of those books that demands to be heard, though I’m also thankful to have a physical copy that I was able to annotate and which provided some wonderful photos of his life to complement the stories.

Right off the bat, I love Grohl’s voice. It feels honest and somehow joyful. I love seeing life through his eyes. There’s a beautiful descriptiveness to his writing that makes everything incredibly easy to visualize without feeling too wordy or like he’s trying to hard in any way. It feels effortless. I especially loved the prologue, and had to go back and read it in physical form so that I could make notes. His discussion of how he wanted to age and why was simply beautiful, as were his meditations on why music has so radically defined his life. Even though it’s not a lifestyle I’ve shared, it’s one that I dreamed about for years, and so I found it weirdly relatable.

He describes the drumming of jazz greats as “thunderous expression with graceful precision,” and I thought this was such an eloquent way of putting it. And it’s a description I completely agree with when it comes to the most talented drummers of past and present. “Structured chaos” is the most apt description of jazz I can think of, as well. The story of Dave teaching his daughter to play drums was absolutely lovely. His pride, his trepidation that he wouldn’t be able to figure out how to teach, his nostalgia as seeing her showed him exactly how he had looked when first learning himself, was so much fun to read. You can tell that this is a man who deeply loves his kids.

The only thing that bothered me slightly on occasion were his reactions to every musical artist he ever met. Every single one of them is the best of the best, the ultimate artist, the epitome of inspiration in Grohl’s life. I get it, I would without a doubt be completely starstruck by any and all of them, as well, but you can only have so many favorites who inspired you to pursue your passion, right? But that’s a very personal qualm. I’m not Grohl, and I don’t know how much of these recollections are colored by nostalgia, but it felt a little overly all-inclusive in terms of inspirational artists and surreal moments. However, Grohl lives life in a way where he tries his best to take nothing for granted and to always remember how lucky he is, so this fervent joy over each of these wild encounters makes sense. Obviously Grohl anticipated this being an issue with some readers, as he has an entire chapter addressing all of the name-dropping and raging enthusiasm for so many artists. And honestly, upon reflection, I have to confess that I would react the exact same way. So that thing that bothered me a bit at first didn’t bother me at all by the end of the book.

This is the kind of genre that demands to be listened to instead of ingested with your eyes, in my opinion. Listening to someone tell you their story in their own words, with their own voice, is such a powerful experience. It makes you feel as if you truly know this person that you’ll more than likely never actually meet face-to-face. Also, there’s actual music added into this particular memoir. There are drum beats and guitar riffs and so on that added tremendously to the experience.

I loved The Storyteller, deeply and profoundly. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read, and definitely the most joyful. While Grohl never shies away from the tragedy that has colored his life, but he chooses to dwell on, and share, the positive. I loved his outlook so much and, even if we don’t share an exact worldview, there’s an incredible amount of overlap. This is a new comfort read for me, and I’m going to do my best to press it into the hands of all of my bandmates. And I’ll definitely be listening to Foo Fighters far more frequently.

You can purchase this book from: Blackwell’s | (Support independent bookstores!)Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible | (Another way to support independent bookstores!) | Book Depository (Free shipping worldwide!)

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