Which Foo Fighters song is about Kurt Cobain?

5 April 2024, 09:00

Nirvana's Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novselic in Frankfurt, 12th November 1991
Nirvana's Dave Grohl, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novselic in Frankfurt, 12th November 1991. Picture: Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty Images

Three decades after the death of Kurt Cobain, we delve into the only track Dave Grohl admits to writing about his friend and Nirvana bandmate.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...
Radio X

By Radio X

April 2024 marks three whole decades since Kurt Cobain tragically took his own life - but the Nirvana frontman's music and lyrics have continued to touch new generations of fans the world over.

While his colleague Dave Grohl has opened up about the death of his former bandmate in recent years, the drummer hasn't always been so comfortable discussing the tragedy.

While it wouldn't be unreasonable to think the Foos 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 be what you think.

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

Foo Fighters - My Hero

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.

Foo Fighters - Friend Of A Friend

Friend of a Friend was an acoustic track penned by Grohl in 1990 - a fewweeks 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 friend's 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".

Kurt Cobain recording in the Netherlands, November 1991
Kurt Cobain recording in the Netherlands, November 1991. Picture: Michel Linssen/Redferns/Getty Images

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

- Dave Grohl - Friend of a Friend

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

Despite being recorded again for a BBC Evening session in 1997, it wasn't until its appearance on the bonus disc of In Your Honor in June 2005 that Grohl revealed the origins of Friend Of A Friend.

Dave Grohl performing on stage at Pukkelpop Festival, Hasselt, Belgium, 25th August 1995
Dave Grohl performing on stage at Pukkelpop Festival, Hasselt, Belgium, 25th August 1995. Picture: Gie Knaeps/Getty Images

When quizzed about the track, Grohl told Q Magazine: "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 responded: "No. I don't think I did. Probably not."

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

READ MORE: How This Is A Call saved Dave Grohl after the death of Kurt Cobain

More on Foo Fighters

See more More on Foo Fighters

Foo fighters in 2019

Foo Fighters "will tour the UK in 2024"

Dave Grohl has penned a letter to fans with a clue they could be at Glastonbury 2023

Dave Grohl hints Foo Fighters are mystery Glastonbury act "The Churnups"

Dave Grohl Foo Fighters performs Live In Brisbane in 2015

Foo Fighters' 2023 dates: Where are the band playing?

What does Dave Grohl whisper in Everlong by Foo Fighters

What does Dave Grohl whisper in Everlong by Foo Fighters?

Dave Grohl, photographed in May 2015

Dave Grohl in his own words