Tribute to a Tribute

It’s not hard to find a Foo Fighters fan. At least not in the circles I run in. [Pauses to allow dad joke-laughter to subside]. Saturday night I stood for several hours, barefoot in my office with the sound from Wembley running through my serious bluetooth speaker, dancing my ass off. And crying. 

Crying like a big, blubbering baby. 

You know the story: In March, drummer Taylor Hawkins was found dead in his Columbian hotel room just hours before their gig. (And why on Earth does every news article put marijuana first in the list of drugs found in his system? Does anyone seriously think the weed was anything more than incidental? That perhaps it wasn’t the benzodiazepine or the anti-depressants or–let’s face it, the Peruvian marching powder that was almost certainly carrying the live round in that firing squad of potentially lethal substances? They should’ve put caffeine in that list too.). 

The news hit me hard. Partly because I’m the same age-range as those guys. Partly because the Foos helped pull me through an 18 month period when I wrote my first two novels. And because the drummer’s demise was surely the death knell for the group. You just don’t replace a drummer like Taylor Hawkins. At least not 25 years into your rock career, when you’re old enough to get the senior discount at the local coffee shop. So that’s it: the Foo Fighters were–are–over. 

All that and a splash of mortality was sloshing around my belly last night as I watched Dave Grohl, drenched in sweat, pounding the drums, riffing on his big pelham blue Gibson signature model, even playing base while Paul McCartney and Chrissie Hynde did “Oh Darlin”. I’d been through half a box of kleenex long before the rest of the band joined him on stage and Dave choked up on the opening lines of “Times Like These.” 

Middle age is weird. You wonder how much time you have left. You wonder how you will go and you hope you have enough time. I have at least three more books to write. I need to learn Back in Black note-perfect on the guitar (didn’t Chris Schiflett absolutely crush that solo last night?). There’s a bunch of old tools I need to restore and I haven’t even run that marathon yet. 

And then there’s the kid. He’s 11 now, and just getting into the more complex life situations that a dad needs to be ready for. But life is a tragic comedy. It ends the same for every. single. person. No exceptions, no advance notice. To quote the Foo’s song “DOA”: no one gets out of here alive.

I wish I had some kind of insight that would make sense of it all. But I’m not that good a writer. 

Don’t get me wrong, I do know some things. I know that leaning into your passions feels good. I know that three chords and the truth is a cosmic, sonic recipe for redemption. And I know that being there for your kids has something to do with mustering the courage to pursue your own achievements. 

But ultimately there’s no salve for any of this shit. People die. Stuff that feels good ends. 

It doesn’t exactly give you peace of mind, but clearly the only thing to do is barrel ahead. Retune the guitar, breathe deep, and strike that chord again.

Published by New Bayou Books

JR Reed started New Bayou Books to spark a revolution in Louisiana literature. The goal of the company is simple: to great writers out of the shadows to carry on the Louisiana literary tradition.

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