Dave Grohl – ‘The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music’

When one of your favorite rock musicians decides to put out a book of stories from his wild career, you’re all in.

And when he narrates the audiobook version, it’s time to listen.

The Details

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music is part memoir and part flat out inspirational storytelling from one of this generations legendary rock musicians. Written(and narrated) by Dave Grohl.

The audiobook version(which I’m reviewing here as it’s how I enjoyed this particular book) was published in October, 2021 by Harper Audio(the audiobook division of Harper Collins).

**The hardcover/physical version was published by Dey Street Books.

The Summary

From Goodreads:

So, I’ve written a book.

Photo Courtesy of Goodreads

Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (“It’s a piece of cake! Just do 4 hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!”) I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child.

This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement.

The Review

Where do I even start with this one.

First let me address one important aspect of my experience with this book. I didn’t read it, I listened to it in audiobook form. I did so because it was narrated by Dave Grohl himself and as someone that has enjoyed hearing his stories as he’s told them in various interviews over the years, I knew the man could tell a story.

So it wasn’t even a question for me. It HAD to be the audiobook version all the way.

When it comes to the book itself, it’s kind of-sort of a memoir? Sharing intimate details of his long and storied career, from the time he was just a kid falling in love with music all the way through the heartbreak of Nirvana and the amazing doors he’s been able to open for himself with his continued success via the Foo Fighters.

But this book is more than just a musicians recollections of “the wild times on the road”. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of those stories and moments as well, but they aren’t really the focus of this book.

And that’s what makes it so special.

You see, alongside the tales of debauchery recollected from a long career in a wild industry, Dave shares with us the true power of family, of love, of friendships, and of music.

We are guided through incredibly inspirational moments that leave us with a message encouraging us to just keep going, keep following what our heart is telling us we need to do. Things don’t come easy in this life, but with dedication, perseverance, hard work, and yes… a bit of luck, who knows where the limit may be.

The stories bring us through the exciting feelings of being on stage in front of thousands of people, through the heartbreaking lows of losing friends and family, and through the joyous blessings of family and fatherhood. And it’s all done in a manner that feels like you’re just kicked back enjoying a few cold beers with an old friend.

I really can’t put into words just how much this book served to light a fire in me to keep pursuing all that which my heart tells me to do, how much it made me think about the love I have for my family and closest friends, and how, when push comes to shove and things need to get done, you do whatever you need to do to make it to the gig.

While the book never preaches at you, the inspiration is never heavy handed and honestly I don’t know that he wrote the book with the intent to inspire anyone, the stories he tells always seem to contain a bit of a moral, or maybe a nugget of truth, that I couldn’t help but take to heart.

If I had ANY criticisms of this book it would be that, while I feel the audiobook version is probably the BEST version, there are times when it SOUNDS like he is reading to us. Which isn’t horrible, but it slips out of the feeling that he’s there telling you this story from memory vs reading it off the page.

It’s minor, but it was noticeable at times.

The Bottom Line

If you couldn’t tell already, I absolutely loved this book.

I had heard some of the stories before, such as the Pantera Clubhouse story, but that’s to be expected for any long-time fan of any musician.

I’d also preface my final rating by saying that I’ve been drumming and making music since the ripe old age of about 7 years old, so this book and these stories really hit home. They made me think about the stories I have yet to ever tell from my years playing in bands, making music with friends, or even just the beautiful way music plays such a powerful role in my life.

If there is one constant theme in this book it’s that Dave Grohl wants us ALL to understand that music, no matter what music it may be that runs deep down through the innermost part of your core, is essential to life.

Music(and the arts in general) carry us through every moment we could imagine facing. Love, loss, pain, joy, you name it and there is music to help you through it.

Equally important is the infectious way he has of reminding us that not everything needs to be taken so seriously. It’s ok to be silly and have fun with our friends and kids and family. And we never need as much “stuff” as we think we do in order to truly thrive in this life.

I give it a 5 out of 5 stars.

That’s big. It’s my ONLY 5 star review of all of the nearly 60 books I’ve enjoyed in 2021. I don’t give out a 5 star rating often, they have to REALLY be something special to me to earn that praise.

BUT

I’ll also say this.

I give the AUDIOBOOK VERSION a 5 out of 5 stars because hearing Dave Grohl share these stories in his own voice(a voice that so often made me think of the fantastic Kevin Smith for some reason) is truly what made it so special and so impactful to me.

I haven’t read the physical version, but have a feeling the actual hardcover/paperback book version would have only earned the 4 star rating. Still excellent, but just not over the top.

As always, your mileage may vary.

If you love music, love hearing “tales from the road” or “tales of the early days when everything was a struggle”, and if you love hearing a man talk about the things he is most passionate about… then The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music by Dave Grohl is an absolute must read.

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