The Top 5 Ways to a Better Life According to Dave Grohl Lianne Stokes

As I rolled over in bed on day five of SXSW in Austin, Texas, I was fighting the sunlight hard. I peered at my Weight Watcher’s app that read, “16 breakfast tacos, bloody Mary, mimosa, steak taco,” then my friend Rachel’s text appeared on my phone. She was in New York City. “Lianne, put the flour tortilla down, Dave Grohl’s keynote at SXSW is at 11am today. Do not miss this.”

I didn’t know much about Dave Grohl besides the fact that he was a band member in Nirvana and is the frontman of The Foo Fighters. I’m a strict devotee of George Michael. (This is the man who taught me in the early ’80s that “guilty feet have got no rhythm”!) Could I find another musician as inspirational as George? After lugging myself, my face still caked in last night’s eye make-up, to the Austin Convention Center to hear Mr. Grohl speak, the answer is yes. I’ve never been happier to stand in a cavernous auditorium filled with hoards of people, some of whom had a lackadaisical attitude towards using deodorant, and be inspired by someone.

Here are some of the things Grohl taught me that reinforced my motivation.

1. No one is you and that is your biggest power. 

We’ve all heard this sentiment before, but this quote from Grohl’s speech breaks it down:

“It’s YOUR VOICE. Cherish it. Respect it. Nurture it. Challenge it. Stretch it and scream until it’s f**king gone because everyone is blessed with at least that, and who knows how long it will last . . .”

AND, my absolute favorite:

Who’s to say what’s a good voice, and what’s not a good voice? The Voice? Imagine Bob Dylan sitting there singing ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ in front of Christina Aguilera.”

As soon as I heard these words, I was filled with the energy and enthusiasm of roughly 20 Baptist choirs. Grohl was talking about a singer’s voice, but you don’t have to belt on Broadway to have a voice. Your voice is your defining quality, your passion and your key opportunity to affecting this planet. Take as long as you need to figure out who you are and what turns you on. And when you do, don’t doubt yourself – just sing.

2. Don’t be afraid of not fitting in.  

During his speech, Grohl freely admitted to having what some would deem “questionable taste in music.”

“I can truly say out loud that ‘Gangnam Style’ is one of my favorite f**king songs of the past decade. Is it any better or worse than the latest Atoms for Peace album? Hmmm… paging Pitchfork! Come in, come in, Pitchfork! We need you to help us determine the value of a song! Who f**king cares.

Preach it, Dave Grohl! Mama hears you.

What is ‘cool’, anyway? Hipsters who wear lampshades as skirts and deadpan “ew” when they see you’re wearing a garment from The Limited Express? Maybe mall stores make you feel alive again. This is a vast culture. Take inspiration from where you want. Let your peers laugh at you for downloading Phil Collins remixes on your ‘Droid. People who design their lives to impress others are Ambien in human form: total sleepwalkers.

3. Give a damn about yourself.

Grohl said this early in his speech: “The Musician comes first.”

My friend Paul reminded me not too long ago of the first season of The Real World. This was back during the brief one-month window when reality TV was actually real. One cast member was an aspiring rapper named Heather. Heather went into the confessional amongst all the household drama of “Who is sleeping with whom?” and “Who called who fat and didn’t do the dishes?” and said, “Heather got to do Heather.” Putting yourself first doesn’t mean being selfish. It’s about taking care of yourself so you can be a better human being. A 2.0 version of you is way more equipped to help others in need. Take up yoga if you’re stressed. Ask for a big raise. Walk away from a relationship that is abusive or draining. Or just take a nap, for Christ’s sake.

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  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Always been a Grohl fan but this kicks it up about ten notches. Boy knows how to talk some Real Talk. And Lianne, your comment, “People who design their lives to impress others are Ambien in human form: total sleepwalkers.” os SPOT ON as well.

  2. God. Dave Grohl is the fucking man! *Excuse the language.*

    Anywhoozles, I don’t know, I guess I’m the type of person that probably reads too much into things sometimes. But…I think what he is trying to say with the music part is that at the end of the day, music is music, no matter what. It doesn’t have to be liked, but we should at least respect it. Any type of music, in my opinion, is saying that someone took the chance, used their minds, their imagination, and their creativity to make art. Because that’s what it is…Music is art and we shouldn’t discourage that creativity. Sure, I don’t like a lot of music that is overplayed on radio nowadays, but I still respect it.

    But really…don’t excuse the language. He really is The Fucking Man!

  3. Just because ones taste in music is something you dont like does classify them as “fucking nuts.” Gangnam stlye is good. The music video to it makes me laugh every time, and my tast in music ranges from the likes of Device, Disturbed, System, and alot of other bands.

  4. He’s fucking nuts. Gangam style or whatever the name of that song is… it’s AWFUL. Seriously Grohl… are you fucking crazy? He’s doing some studio shit with Trent Reznor one of the greatest musicians ever in history and he says the popular gangam style is an amazing “song”. Please. Wherever you are Kurt, don’t listen to him.

    • He wasn’t saying “My taste in music, esp this song, is awesome”. Precisely the opposite. Don’t be afraid to like a song that might make you seem/feel silly, dorky, uncool, out of touch, misunderstood, weird, etc from the rest of the world. Try not fitting in and not caring. When you put a judgement on it, i.e. it’s awful – you might at well be holding up your hands for the proverbial handcuffs, for yourself or someone else.

      Its music after all, satire yes, but entertainment. Not foreign policy or a reason to declare war. :) Life is short. Lighten up and turn the channel.

    • To the idiot who totally missed the point:

      Who are you to say what is good or bad music? Did you even know that Gangnam Style is a satirical song to make fun of South Korean popular culture? PSY is one of the most renowned K-pop musicians with a fearless sense of humor. Who are you?

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