ERROL PARKER | Editor-at-large | Contact
FOR OVER 20 YEARS, The Foo Fighters have been the rock and roll tyrants of emotion.
Their ballads which follow the themes of loss, alienation and rejection have struck a cord within millions around the planet – especially the tradesmen of Australia.
“The Fooeys” as our hi-vis wearing brothers and sisters call them, have been a mainstay on the radios of construction and building sites around the nation for a generation. Even much so that an iPod filled with The Fooey’s music was on the top of the list of survival gear passed to the trapped Beaconsfield miners back in 2006.
Dave Grohl’s heartfelt lyrics and booming grungy vocals provide a stable platform for the rocking power chords and Bonham-esque drumming – all of which have brought steely-eyed tradies to tears.
The main purveyors of The Fooey’s music in Australia are the iconic Triple M network, which has had its finger on the pulse of the tradie and rugby league audience for years. So today, in partnership with Triple M Sydney, we’ve put together a list of Fooey tracks that are guaranteed to make even the most unionised worker break down and cry.
5. Learn to Fly
19-year-old second-year plumbing apprentice Scott Daniels says he wishes he was born earlier so he could’ve grown up listening to the Foo Fighters.
He also said that the music today is so washed out and homogenous that it’s hard to feel a connection.
“Learn to Fly speaks to me in so many different ways,”
“It’s kind of a biography of me when you think about it. The song is about finding salvation, which I needed to when I dropped out of school a few years ago. I was so lost, stumbling in the dark. Then I found the Fooeys,”
“The Fooeys saved me. I was over at my mates place one-night smoking cones when I first heard Learn to Fly. He got up to change the song, but I asked him to leave it. It changed my life. So every time I hear it, it makes me back to the grotty old couch in Waterloo.”
Learn to Fly is definitely one of the Foo Fighters’ most emotional songs as it deals with many themes that people feel uncomfortable to talk about. Many tradies we spoke to feel the same way.
4. All My Life
Michael Paynter first heard All My Life back in 2002. He felt an instant connection to its angry lyrics and driving rock riff. He felt pissed off at the world. His ute was in the workshop, it needed a new transmission. A five-thousand-dollar expense he couldn’t afford. His wife wasn’t speaking to him, she was staying at her sisters. He was a bit too ambitious with his tax deductions from the year before and the ATO was auditing him.
“It was a rough patch,” said the 41-year-old builder.
“Man, I was so fucking angry back then. All My Life was the soundtrack to my life. I used to sit on the bus with all my tools with the headphones in – that song on repeat. I just wanted to scream,”
“But that was a long time ago. I’m happy now. Me and the missus got back together later that week and I got my old ute back from the mechanic. My brother and I drove the thing down to Minto and torched the cunt to get the insurance. Everything worked out… but that was a tough week.”
All My Life was especially popular inside the surfing subculture. With the release of Blue Crush around the same time, surfing was given a grungy overtone that lasted almost a year until P.O.D. ruined everything with Youth of the Nation.
3. My Hero
According to Dave Grohl, the song is dedicated to ordinary, everyday heroes, as he himself never had musical or sports heroes growing up as a child.
“That’s definitely something I can relate to,” says 27-year-old waterproofer Nick Murphy.
“When they played My Hero when Warney, Pidge and Alfie all retired after the match when we got the Ashes back. Fuck me. Whenever I hear this song, I just break down. Now our cricket team is shit and we I reckon we’re about to be flogged by fuckin’ Bangladesh next month. God, it makes me sad. Look, I’m starting to tear up now,”
“They were so good,”
Like many of his Foo Fighters tracks, many listeners assumed that this song was about Kurt Cobain, but Grohl has explained that it isn’t.
“It’s definitely about Kurt,” said Nick.
2. Best of You
Sitting in the centre of his Point Piper bedroom, then 15-year-old Leslie Gregson would listen to Best of You with his headphones on while his parents fought downstairs. He’d stare out the window at the glistening harbour and CBD off in the distance. Not even his friends understood how he felt deep down.
“In fact, nobody understood me. Nobody except for the Foo Fighters,” he said.
“The school counsellor tried to reach out to me but I told him to fuck off. It was 2005 and I didn’t care. But when I heard Dave Grohl’s voice, it was like he his hand was coming out of the speakers and touching my heart. He made me care,”
“I’d just broken up with my first girlfriend, who I asked out via SMS. She said yes on a Monday but I never got back to her and she dumped me on that Friday. I felt like I was going to die.”
Leslie is now a largely unsuccessful apprentice shipwright who works for a family friend. But whenever he hears Best of You, it takes him back to the hardest days of his life.
It’s David Letterman’s favourite song. He says it’s the greatest love song that never says the word “love”.
“Everlong is a song about loving somebody from afar – somebody you’ll never get,” said Letterman.
The 68-year-old retired comedian’s sentiments have been echoed by thousands of hard working Australians that work with their hands for a living.
Miles Tucker has been on the tools for over three decades now and he says that when Everlong comes over the worksite radio, it’s tools down.
“We lost a bloke a few years ago. He was the most popular bloke we ever had on our team. Scott his name was. Anyway, we lost him back in 2008 while on the job. So every time we hear that song, which was Scotty’s favourite, it’s tools down and we stop to remember him,”
“He fell for some Pommie bird he met in a bar. She was going back to the UK so Scotty went with her. I still remember the day he handed his papers in. Fuck it gutted me and the boys,”
“If you’re up there Scotty, mate me love you and hope she breaks up with you so you come back.”