Dave Grohl, the twice-inducted Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member for his work with Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, decided to tell stories about his life and music on social media. From there, the stories on social media began to coalesce into a whole which made a book possible. He has lived through and seen a lot, so these tales run the gamut from the halcyon Nirvana days, up to the present as a Foo Fighter. This book is a look at the grunge movement and the rock scene from the 80s and beyond.
For reasons of his own, Grohl never delves too deeply into the Cobain saga ... That leaves the reader with a pleasant rock-star memoir, a portrait of a really nice kid from the DC suburbs who matured into one of the great rock drummers. That, I think, is Grohl’s signal accomplishment. He is easily the standout drummer of the era Nirvana ushered in ... Deathless fans of Foo Fighters and anyone with Grohl’s face tattooed on their arms are sure to enjoy Storyteller. But I think Grohl would be first to admit that the Foo story falls well below the top shelf of epic rock sagas ... the younger Grohl could have used a more intrusive editor ... Too often, Grohl lapses into industry glad-handing ... This heartwarming tale feels very Dave Grohl, but not very punk rock.
The tension between his two groups—ironic vs. sincere, outsider vs. insider, rebellious vs. wholesome—is the precise yet unacknowledged tension of Grohl’s The Storyteller ... This Everyman Dave favors superfluous adjectives (on the first page alone: 'cruel trick', 'false illusion', 'quick look in the mirror') and defaults to cliché ... But perhaps the clichés are the point. Everyman Dave doesn’t put artifice—or labor—into his prose. It’s easier for him to think of himself as rock’s Forrest Gump, haplessly in the right place at the right time (another cliché repeated throughout the book) than an agent of his own triumphs ... it is as difficult to reconcile Everyman Dave with Destiny Dave as it is to reconcile The Storyteller’s prose with the lyrics that Grohl has composed over the past three decades. Surprisingly, he does not analyze or even mention his lyrics ... The book’s prose is banal, buffoonish; the song’s lyrics are personal, empathic ... The tone and topics are, unlike his lyrics but like his drumming, relentlessly upbeat. Grohl wants you to know that he is happy, satisfied, positive, and exuberant. He spends a whole chapter gushing over meeting Little Richard, another over Joan Jett. No doubt those were awesome experiences. These are the qualities of a rich and enviable life, to be sure, but they don’t necessarily make a compelling read ... Instead, Grohl will allude to, then elide, what could have been the substance of a very different book, one in keeping with the depths indicated by his lyrics ... not a memoir. Episodic, nonlinear, and discursive, the book is more indebted to the oral than written tradition. Based on the snippet I listened to, the audiobook, narrated by Grohl himself, captures its spirit better than the text alone.
Call it the typical tale of a high school dropout who becomes the drummer in Nirvana, then after unspeakable tragedy transformed himself into the singer, songwriter and guitarist for a band that sells out arenas ... The message that burns through The Storyteller is to those who watch him onstage now: Deep down, I’m just like you. I’ve worked hard to get where I am, but I obsessed over the same music you do. I’m a fan.