We were extremely saddened to hear the news of Taylor Hawkins’ passing late Friday night. Hawkins was a longtime member of Foo Fighters, serving as the band’s drummer and sometimes lead singer since he joined in 1997. Outside of Foo Fighters, Hawkins had been a part of several other bands, one of the most notable roles being the touring drummer for Alanis Morissette. He also recently started projects such as the supergroup NHC. As a tribute to his life and the musical legacy he leaves behind, we put together a list of four Foo Fighters songs that highlight the incredible light he brought to the world.
“LEARN TO FLY”
When I was in elementary school, my dad gave me his iPad, and through his Apple library, I discovered a world full of music. One song I especially loved was “Learn To Fly” by Foo Fighters. Coming home from middle school bullies and my horrid algebra class, I could put in my earbuds and listen to Taylor Hawkins drum work carry me away. I truly believe the core of this song is the drums; it drives the tempo like a sense of hope and clashes like the way your heart feels when it’s beating fast in your chest. His drumming exceeds an expertise of musicality, but into a unique pulse of emotion. Even ten years later, I can listen to this song and still feel like I’m listening to it for the first time. And I owe that renewed sense of excitement to Taylor Hawkins’s drums.
- Tatum Jenkins, Music Coordinator
“YOU CAN’T FIX THIS”
Taylor Hawkins’ drumming on this track, from Soundscape, absorbs the listener into the steady pulse of the work that is at hand throughout all five minutes and fifty-six seconds. The song begins with Hawkins on drums partnered with his fellow Foo Fighter Dave Grohl on guitar. Grohl mirrors Hawkins’ ride cymbal as it leads him into the main heartbeat of the piece.
As the music progresses and other elements of instrumentation are added, Taylor’s drumming stays consistent. His drumming is always at the core. It isn’t until Stevie Nicks approaches the first chorus of the piece that the listener can hear a change. Here, Hawkins’ musicianship truly shines as he is again able to set up the approach for this section to grow in intensity. Even as he deviates from the original rhythmic concept built within the first minute, to any listener it is a natural progression. Almost as though nothing but what Taylor has chosen to do would make sense. With that same ability, as the chorus reaches its natural end, he leads us, the listeners, back to that original core heartbeat.
- Kira Weaver, Staff Writer
“BEST OF YOU”
Regarded as one of the best Foo Fighters songs, “Best of You” still delivers an impact 17 years since the song's release. Hawkins' skillful technique can be heard from the first verse. We hear his energetic emotions fill the song. The song comes with the best ending – Hawkins’ outro. Unleashing his talents onto the drums, we hear a symphony of drum fills. The impactful drums bring the song together, from beginning to end. For the Foo Fighters, who were a much smaller band at the time, the song catapulted their career. “Best of You” is recognized as one of Hawkins’ best drum performances. The band found their drummer in this song, leaving with the Foo Fighters, a piece of Hawkins.
- Amber Garcia, Staff Writer
Taylor Hawkins hits hard on “The Pretender.” What seems like a somber ballad at the beginning soon transforms into classic stadium rock that the Foo Fighters do best. All thanks, of course, to Taylor Hawkins’s drumming. He plays along with the guitar riff with such precision that you can almost see the musical brain he and Dave Grohl share. Hawkins’s kick drum matches up with the bottom half of Grohl’s guitar riff perfectly, while his snare hits move in sequence with the top half.
Hawkins’ skills as not only a musician but a calculated and rhythmically informed drummer, display themselves in “The Pretender.” He operates on a normal 1:1 quarter note to beat ratio throughout the majority of the song but then switches into half-time during the “Who are you?” section of the bridge. This adds variety and texture to the song and makes it almost impossible to not head-bang along to it. When the chorus comes back shortly after, it brings with it even more intensity and vigor. During the last refrain, though, Hawkins refreshes once again with a fiery double time and pushes full speed ahead without dismantling the rest of the band.
Hawkins, a drummer’s drummer, relied heavily on feel and groove, but he always made sure to serve the music first. He drove the Foo Fighters forward with every smash, crash, and rimshot.
- T.J. Grant, Staff Writer