It’s time to ignite with Foo Fighters’ new record Medicine At Midnight
The last time I saw Foo Fighters it was with 40,000 other adoring fans at Fenway Park. This year when I hear Foo Fighters I’m one with one adoring fan. Me.
Foo Fighters appeared on The Howard Stern Show this past Wednesday, five days after the release of their tenth studio record, Medicine at Midnight. Frontman Dave Grohl spoke at length about the making of the record, explaining how the process actually started mid-way through 2019. As the band entered 2020, there were grand plans to make the entire year special. Their 25th anniversary, a new record, a world tour, and more surprises we can only wonder about.
As the world turned upside down, Foo Fighters decided to pause on the new release, waiting on a war to pass. Well, almost a year later, we’re still here. But we have music. We have now our Medicine At Midnight.
Though the songs were written well before the circumstances of the past year, they seem to apply perfectly to the universal emotions that come and go on a daily basis. I’m a lyric person. So, when I first listen to a new record I look for a line to strike me. Maybe it’s a chorus hook, maybe it’s an intro, or maybe its just the way the singer emotes during an unexpected bridge. The feeling I get from this then sets the tone for much of the accompanied music – almost like a souvenir, where I can apply it’s shine to my own life.
Well, this happened 30 seconds in with the opening track, “Making A Fire”. Though – it was not a particular lyric. It was the entire song that encapsulated the deeply-driven emotion of my current being.
Back in late March of 2020 when it became apparent that we were in the for the long haul here, I made a conscious effort to calibrate myself to the point where I can properly manage each day. One day at a time. One by one. There were variables of all kinds, including a remedy around midnight (usually copper colored in a glass with a giant ice cube). In a time of so much uncertainty where nothing was consistent – I did have one constant. I’d make a fire.
As the sun would begin to fall into a golden hour abyss, moments before the neighborhood would step outside and clap for frontline healthy care workers, I would fire up the pit in my backyard and pull up a chair. Sometimes my family would join me and other nights, I’d wait until it was dark and sit there with the flames by myself. This continued through the fall, and now with the New England winter dropping elbows, I’ve transitioned this practice to my living room fire place.
There’s been something about the crackle, the smell and wildness of stoking a fire that brings me to a point that is hard to explain. Only the waves of the Atlantic Ocean has been able to rival it. Like many, I’ve experience a lot during this pandemic. There are family members I haven’t seen in a over a year now, and I recently learned my father, 1,000 miles away, resorts to the serenity of a firepit each night as well. (I only have 20 minutes to write this article before I have to go back to homeschool help).
“Lucky then I took a stand and finally hit my stride.”
So here we are now – one week deep with Medicine At Midnight and though I can see a light, we’re also … still here. I’ve been waiting, elevating, hanging on a line, spotting clouds out of curiosity, chasing birds out of boredom and about a month ago – waiting on a war. But then, if ever there was the most perfect moment for “Times Like These”, it was January 20th with the performance the Foo Fighters gave. Though, this classic off the band’s fourth record has been applicable to so many moments, perhaps this was the one it was destined for. The one that enforced hope.
And then “Making A Fire” (and all of Medicine At Midnight) picked up right where it left off. Taylor Hawkins with a drum beat you can feel buzzing from your head to your toes. Beautiful harmonies in the background from Samantha Sidley, Barbara Gruska, Laura Mace, Inara George, and Violet Grohl. Pat Smear adding the crunch right when you need to punch. Nate Mendel supplying a groove to put you in the pocket while Rami Jaffe gets you swinging with the keys. Chris Shiflett then adds my favorite color and shape to the record with his melodic guitar fill after the “are you afraid of the dark?” pre-chorus intro. Finally, for Grohl – it’s not just what you say, but how you say it with that big chorus… we are waiting a lifetime to live. It’s down to the wire and we can take these creative new tunes and apply them to our own circumstance with echoes, silence, patience and grace.
Three minutes into Foo Fighters’ video release of “Making A Fire”, which is a live performance, you see Grohl take a step back from the mic. He’s clapping his hands in perfect unison with Hawkins’ snare-driven beat. Mendel bops his head as this record makes you do, and everyone yields to the sounds of the “na na” background vocals. Gruska raises a virtual fist pump towards the center of the stage as they sway to the rhythm. This is it right here… this stretch of 16 seconds. You do your part with confidence and then you encourage others to do theirs. It’s together – be the moon, be the sun… put that record on. You conclude by ultimately realizing you’re on the same stage, locking arms and taking it home to a triumphant finish.
I know a place we can start… and its in the form of nine beautifully diverse rock songs.
To be clear, this is not a review. It’s just my voice. And If you believe it, it must be true. But for now, I’m going to dim it because it’s time to ignite. I’m making a fire….
na na na-na-na-na, na, na