Which Foo Fighters Song Is About Kurt Cobain?

20 February 2018, 17:52

Nirvana's Dave Grohl and Kurt Cobain in 1993
Nirvana's Dave Grohl and Kurt Cobain in 1993. Picture: Stephen Sweet/REX/Shutterstock

As we celebrate what would have been the late Nirvana frontman's 51st Birthday, we look into the only track Dave Grohl admits writing about his friend and bandmate.

Since Kurt Cobain tragically lost his life on 5 April 1994, his music and lyrics have continued to touch fans across the world.

While Dave Grohl has opened up a lot more about the loss of his Nirvana bandmate as time has gone on, he hasn't always been so comfortable discussing the tragedy.

While it wouldn't be unreasonable to think the Foo Fighters frontman may have tackled this loss in his music, there's only one song he directly attributes to being about Kurt Cobain... and it might not what you think.

Many fans assume that My Hero, from Foo Fighters' 1997 The Colour and the Shape album, is about the late grunge icon, but it's often credited about being about the ordinary man.

Releasing a statement in 2008 when Republican candidate John McCain used the track without their permission, the band wrote: “The saddest thing about this is that ‘My Hero’ was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential. To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song.”

However it's actually on Disc 2 of Foo Fighters' 2005 album, In Your Honor, that the closest thing to 'a Kurt Cobain tribute' can be found.

Friend of a Friend was an acoustic track penned by Grohl in 1990- just weeks after he'd moved to Seattle to join Nirvana.

Written in Kurt's Olympia apartment on his acoustic guitar, the track describes Grohl's first impressions of the frontman and bassist Krist Novelselic, and paints a pretty bleak picture of the band's early days.

The song captures the act of Grohl finding Cobain's guitar, with the lyrics: "He plays an old guitar/With a coin found by the phone/It was his friends guitar/That he played".

It also hints at Kurt's early drinking habit, with the lines: "He thinks he drinks too much/ 'Cause when he tells his two best friends/'I think I drink too much'/No-one speaks".

Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana in 1991
Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain of Nirvana in 1991. Picture: Jazz Archive/DPA/PA Images

See the full lyrics to Friend of a Friend here:

He needs a quiet room With a lock to keep him in It's just a quiet room And he's there

He plays an old guitar With a coin found by the phone It was his friends guitar That he played

He's never been in love But he knows just what love is He said nevermind And no-one speaks

He thinks he drinks too much 'Cause when he tells his two best friends 'I think I drink too much' No-one speaks No-one speaks No-one speaks

He plays an old guitar With a coin found by the phone It was his friends guitar That he played

When he plays No-one speaks No-one speaks When he plays No-one speaks

The song was first recorded in secret in 1990, before being released on Grohl's Pocketwatch cassette album under the psuedonym Late! two years later.

Despite being recorded again for a BBC Evening session in 1997, it wasn't until the release of In Your Honour where it was revisited for the acoustic disc of the LP that Grohl was forced to open about its origins.

Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl in 2005
Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl in 2005. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Archive/PA Images

Speaking to Q Magazine when quizzed about the track, Grohl said: "I'd just moved in with Kurt. I didn't know anybody. I had a drum set packed in one box and flew up there. I would stay up till the sun came up and sleep all day.

"Olympia, Washington, is fucking depressing enough and I was living with this person that I didn't know. But he had a four-track so I wrote songs: Marigold and Friend Of A Friend. It was an observation of Kurt and Krist and I."

Asked if he ever played the song to Kurt, he simply responed: "No. I don't think I did. Probably not."

So less of a tribute and more of an "observation," and written years before Cobain's untimely death, Friend of a Friend just happens to capture a moment in time, representing the early and uncertain days of Grohl joining the band.

Watch Chris Moyles Meets Foo Fighters in full here: