Seriously. Seriously. Love. This. Album.
Okay, so, this is one of those supergroup one-offs that you want to live inside for weeks. I have played it a million times, and always discover something new. My favorite thing to do with this album is listen for the various influences in each song: Marilyn Manson, David Bowie, and Primus—not to mention Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, and Queens of the Stone Age, of course—all have a place in these songs. I don’t know if it’s intentional, like Oasis with their obvious tribute to The Beatles on pretty much every song. Whatever the reason, it’s fucking brilliant and endlessly enjoyable to spend time with.
And I love this because it shows how well-rounded these guys are. Dave Grohl, John Paul Jones, and Josh Homme are not one-dimensional musicians. They love music from every genre. They did this album to have fun. They are not interested in being pigeon-holed as a certain kind of performer. They want to experience everything music has to offer. And that is why Them Crooked Vultures are so amazing.
My love for Dave Grohl is well-documented, so I don’t need to revisit the chronology of its evolution. Them Crooked Vultures is further explanation of why I adore him so. He is a genius in whatever he does. I can only imagine how exciting it was for him to perform with John Paul Jones! A few days ago I was at brunch with my high school crush, the boy I thought I was going to spend my life with, despite the fact that he never acknowledged me after 7th grade even though I followed him around and stared at him and kissed his locker. We reconnected at our 20-year reunion last year, and have been in contact through Facebook and texting since then. Our brunch conversation was a long and winding road composed of exes, advanced college degrees, and politics, when suddenly he asked why I was so obsessed with Dave Grohl. I was more than happy to explain! I mentioned Dave’s sense of humor, his crazy and overflowing talents, his love of family. Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age—and Them Crooked Vultures. He had no idea what that was. I then became even more excited while talking about them, and he knowingly asked if I had all the songs memorized, which of course, I do.
It’s funny to think about my teenage obsession asking me about my adult obsession, because I do pretty much feel the same way about Dave Grohl as I did about that boy in school. I wanted to know everything about him back in the day, good or bad, and I relished every glimpse I could get of him. I saved crumpled up homework he had tossed in the trash can, his old band folder, his combination lock he threw away at the end of 9th grade. He was a rock star to me, always the center of attention, class clown, willing to do anything to make people laugh. Dave Grohl is the same sort of guy, and it’s a huge part of what attracts me to him. He’s a regular dude who just happens to be super talented and hilarious, and who I have for many years planned my future around. It took me until my second year of college to realize that I was probably never going to be with the boy from school, and though Dave is happily married with two kids, I’m not sure I have quite accepted the fact that I will never marry him. Sigh.
That said, I am very happy that Dave is so happy with his life. He’s very lucky, and he knows it. And I am very lucky that he is part of my life—he really is part of my life, because his music makes me happy, whatever he does makes me feel good and excited and optimistic. I also feel lucky that the boy I wanted in high school has finally acknowledged me, not because I think that now he will finally realize that I am the woman he’s been waiting for, but because now I am able to revisit some of the things I used to write about and experience and obsess over back when he was the center of my universe and I can create meaningful prose out of those things; this has helped me see myself more clearly. All the music I have ever listened to has affected me, even if I didn’t like it. And all the guys I ever loved had a profound impact on me, even if they never said a word to me.
Now, let’s get all up in this album which has spoken volumes to me.
Sexy and sad and fucked up. “No One Loves Me & Neither Do I.” The title sounds like something Kurt Cobain wrote. The drum part in the middle? Ho. Lee. Fuck. That Dave Grohl guy sure can kick the shit out of those drums. And there’s some Marilyn Manson shit during those killer drums.
I know how to be controlled
Do the opposite of what you’re told
Be quick, react, to break the box
& turn on cue as your cell door locks behind you
I know how to be lost in lust
Not because you should, but because you must
And “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” is probably my favorite song on the album. It’s so Bowie! I mean, come on, how much more Bowie can you get than
Law biding, dick riding, fun police,
leave us alone
New age goosestep on a karma collision
Dulling the edge of a razor blade
Whoa! Loves it! Not just the lyrics, but the music itself sounds like it’s right out of Ziggy Stardust—magical, glam, fun. You will not run out of give a shit here.
“New Fang” is great Queens of the Stone Age stuff. “Dead End Friends” sounds like Nirvana with some other mid-90s band I can’t quite place. “Elephants” starts off like Zeppelin with those killer drums and guitar, and it has hints of Marilyn Manson and QOTSA. Maybe a little Beck. Why not? The lyrics on most of these songs are dark and peculiar, and that is reminiscent of lots of the old school metal shit worshipped by teenage boys—not that there’s anything wrong with that! What the hell does “Pachyderms full of germs/Elephants broken and screaming & scattered on the shore/Surely washed away” mean? Who knows? But it sounds like how a teenager feels. And then we get back to that Jimmy Page jam at the end. Great way to finish before quickly heading into “Scumbag Blues,” a great Cream tribute. Listen to it. It is definitely Cream.
“Bandoliers” reminds me of something, many things, I think. I hear some Nirvana in the bass line, I hear some Foo. QOTSA. I hear a Mexican revolution brewing. This should be on the soundtrack to a Tarantino movie.
And then we have Primus. “Reptiles” is Primus all over the place, but with some Zep thrown in there, too. I had forgotten about Primus until I heard this song. I always forget that they do the South Park theme. I have one of their albums, the one with “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” on it. Yes, I shall listen to Primus again soon.
I have never done drugs, but I do feel stoned when I listen to “Interlude with Ludes.” Josh lazily pushes out these trippy lyrics, and it’s fun to ooze through the words with him.
Oh, baby, oh
I’m gonna smother you with my love
Forever & ever, also forever
Acid & poison & chemicals baby
Is what I mean to provide
I know together we’ll make the possible totally impossible
I lerve the way he plays with the syllables in those last three words. Fuck yes!
More Marilyn Manson weirdness ensues in “Warsaw or the First Breath You Take After You Give Up.” There is also some Zeppelin hanging out in this song, and a few other folks who make guest appearances. The lyrics are pretty much Kurt. Awesome.
I just realized that “Caligulove” reminds me of The Doors. The organ solo, the lyrics, the fact that Caligula is part of its title. Yes. The Doors.
In the temple
I was an offering
of the heartless
I was an offering
I was humbled & reborn
Can’t you just hear the Lizard King groaning these lyrics to the fantastic grind of Ray Manzarek’s organ? Yummy.
And “Gunman” is another good Marilyn Manson tune, but it could also be Alice in Chains or Rob Zombie or someone else super heavy like that. Good shit. “Spinning in Daffodils” is pure Zeppelin at the end. And all is right with the world.
All of these musical pieces fit together perfectly. All of the men I’ve known, biblically or not, fit perfectly into my life story. As different as the performers I have discussed here are from one another, there is still something that unites them. I don’t know whether Dave and John and Josh consciously thought of them while writing these songs. They probably didn’t. I hear what I hear. It’s obvious to me. With the men I have loved, as different as they are from each other, there was something special about each of them that attracted me. Others may not have seen it. The guys themselves may not have seen it. And though none of them were the right guy for me, at the time they had my heart. I have moved past each of them, though they still have a piece of me because of what they represent. Just like all the music I love. There are things I loved 25 years ago that I have not listened to in a long time, but I don’t love it any less. As soon as I hear those opening chords, I am right back to where I was when it first obsessed me. I’m not in love with any of those guys anymore, but when I see a picture of them or hear the music that reminds me of them, I remember why I felt the way I did about them. Talking to my high school crush about Dave Grohl was liberating. I had already told him at our reunion about all the crazy shit I did to be close to him in school, but sharing my deep and sincere love for Dave Grohl felt even more revealing. I have no idea what he was thinking as I animatedly detailed Dave’s various projects and why I want him so badly, but I felt exactly as I did when talking to my friends about this boy in high school. I have not grown up much, lol! He said he never really had any celebrity obsessions, and I eagerly admitted that I always have some celebrity obsession. This one has lasted 13 years so far. He didn’t seem disturbed by that. And I’m perfectly comfortable with it.