I'm late to this party, but bear with me. Because I've just discovered that Dave Grohl is arguably the best pop music critic/historian we've seen in a very long time.
And one of the best teachers, period.
His HBO series Sonic Highways is tribute to American popular music that no one should miss. At a time when the big names seem to be heading in all the wrong directions, he has decided to reach out, grab us by the hand and guide us, deftly, to higher ground.
Sonic Highways showcases the rebels who were there at the very beginning. It also introduces us to some of their daring descendants who are picking up where they left off, with unshakable "blind faith" and total disregard for what Joni Mitchell once dubbed the "star maker machinery behind the popular song."
In fact, "blind faith" is a hook in "Congregation," one of the songs on the Sonic Highways album Grohl and his fellow Foo Fighters created while following what he calls a "musical map of America." The idea was to travel to eight legendary music cities--New Orleans, Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C., Nashville, Austin, Los Angeles and New York--to talk to and record with some of Grohl's heroes.
I missed the first episode from my Sweet Home, Chicago--and featuring my old Cheap Trick pal Rick Nielsen. But now that I've caught up, I am sure that this show is one of the most moving and important television series ever aired, and a valuable viewing experience for artists of all genres.
When maverick Southern "swamp rock" legend Tony Joe White says do what you want to do because no one else can say what you have to say the way you want to say it, it's a license to fly for every fledgling writer, musician, painter, actor, dancer--for every dreamer, everywhere.
"Write what's in your heart," he tells us in that deep, honey-dripping drawl of his.
That's a recurring theme in Sonic Highways. The trailer gives you a tantalizing taste:
God bless HBO for giving Grohl the green light on this one.
And to Grohl: thank you, brother. America needs this. Right now, more than ever.
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