Dave Grohl on “the greatest guitar riff of all time”

Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl has considered himself as a drummer first and a songwriter second from the very start. Grohl plays the guitar with the same approach as the cymbals and kick drum. With Foo Fighters, he has established himself as one of the greatest songsmiths. Grohl may consider a guitar’s percussion qualities, but he still appreciates the art of crafting a catchy melody.

However, Grohl always intended his musical career to take place behind the kit. The frontman learned drums on his bed with Rush records playing when he began his music journey. But whenever he did make the decision to take up the guitar, his preference was always for The Beatles’ sound.

The Fab Four taught Grohl melody composition. Their influence shaped his ability to create intricate works, later evident in his songwriting. Led Zeppelin’s breakthrough in London clubs marked a radical shift in the music landscape. Every rock band since The Beatles had been influenced by them since the 1960s.

Jimmy Page brought the group together to go beyond traditional blues, fusing folk music with the standard bluesy progressions on songs like “Baby I’m Gonna Leave You.” They formed the band in the midst of the British blues boom. However, the group started to stray from the blues on their later albums, opting instead to write songs that were more in line with hard rock fans.

With limited celebration, the band released their fourth album, which is still untitled, and opened with “Black Dog.” Composed by John Paul Jones, the riff is instantly recognizable and has a slightly bewildering sound due to its circular groove. Although Grohl believes that Page was the one who gave the riff life, Jones may have composed it.

When discussing the best songs in rock history, Grohl insists that the song’s main riff is one of the best in the genre, saying to Q, “‘Black Dog’ has got to be my favorite guitar riff of all time.” Jimmy had swagger when he played his guitar; it came from his shoulders. “Black Dog” is incredibly smooth and just flows.

However, a guitar riff is only as good as its players, and Page was set up by the rest of the band, who provided the ideal pulse behind him. Grohl believes the outcome is among the greatest instances of band interaction in rock history. Not everything may fit neatly into the grid, but the result is remarkable.

According to Grohl, there are some cool shifts in the song where Jimmy and John Paul Jones flip the riff while John Bonham maintains 4/4 time. It sounds simple enough, but when you wrap your hands around a guitar, you realize it takes more than expected. Skill and dedication become apparent. It has a groove and a pulse.

That subtle time change makes the song much more complex than one realizes, which can be attributed to the band’s sense of melodic timing. This is especially true for any aspiring guitarist trying to get the riff down. Grohl has penned iconic guitar lines with Foo Fighters and Nirvana. The swagger required for a song like this emanates from the soul, not intellect.










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