REVIEW: Foo Fighters – Sonic Highways 3 – Nashville “Congregation”

FOO FIGHTERS – Sonic Highways 3 – Nashville “Congregation”


“Wow, Kevin Costner has played the Grand Ole Opry.  Rad.” – Pat Smear

Dave sits down to play an acoustic at the legendary Bluebird Cafe.  It’s a daunting task for a rock drummer, to sit and play bare acoustic songs by himself on that historic stage.  He was admittedly a fish out of water, but in a “refreshing way”.  Nashville, according to Foo Fighters, is the coolest city in America.  Dolly Parton says Nashville is all about the songs.  It was the “Hollywood of music, for the south” according to The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.  Steve Earle, who arrived in 1974, says Nashville is “university for songwriting.” However some artists like Willie Nelson had to leave Nashville in order to find solo success.

It’s big, big business; a country “hit factory”, from Dolly Parton to Carrie Underwood.  Johnny Cash to Kenny Rogers and Lady Antebellum.  By the time you get to Brad Paisley and Taylor Swift, it doesn’t sound much like what it used to anymore.  Zac Brown is an exception.  Dave Grohl thought it was pretty cool that Zac would barbecue food for his audience before the show.  Brown on the other hand really wanted Grohl to produce them.  And Dave had never even heard one song before, but grew to love his “outsider” stance and lightning guitar licks.  He could be in Slayer, says Grohl, he’s so fast.  He started out picking intricate classical lines on a nylon string guitar.

Grohl became such a fan that he decided to record at Brown’s own studio, one of the oldest in town.  It is a huge beautiful building; a church built in 1901.  The wood paneling inside lends it a cottage-y feel, but it’s also wormy wood that has great acoustics.  The drum sound is once again massive and deep, but the band didn’t have the song ready until they got there and Dave figured out the arrangement in the studio.  Dave was inspired by a beam in light through one of the old church’s music — no shit.

It’s a suitable inspiration.  Cash sang gospel, so did the deeply religious Elvis.  Blues was also an influence to later Nashville artists.  Jukeboxes were a big inspiration.  Pianist Tony Brown first turned on to country via a George Jones song on a jukebox.  Emmylou Harris told him to check it out; the song brought him “to his knees”.  The single was an important format.  An album was essentially just a compilation of previously released singles.

Foo Fighters lead guitarist Chris Shiflett is a country-head, and he had the best time in Nashville.  The barbecue food looks incredibly succulent.    “Congregation” is surprisingly Journey-like, but with Lizzy harmony guitars.  Arena rock: it’s the choice of notes.  The middle section then goes into an odd, jazzy guitar part played by Zac Brown.  “Open your eyes, step into the light!”  This is definitely a hard rock anthem.

Episode 4.5/5 stars

Song 4.5/5 stars



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