This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohl
Reviewed by Luke Winkie, Fri., June 15, 2012
This Is a Call: The Life and Times of Dave Grohlby Paul Brannigan
Da Capo Press, 353 pp., $26.99
Dave Grohl gets the thoroughly unauthorized treatment from Paul Brannigan's This Is a Call, the first biography on the breathlessly adored rock & roll archangel. Brannigan – who made his name editing UK mag Kerrang! – didn't get this life story straight from his subject's mouth, despite a longstanding friendship with Grohl, and he is instead forced to turn toward compulsive and resourceful scrapping. He combs endless interviews, recordings, critical bluster, and his own discourse with everyone from childhood friends to schoolteachers to fill out 353 pages like a salvaged, mosaic version of Grohl's actual history. Ultimately, it's not enough. While the text is pumped with lively enthusiasm for Grohl's prodigious body of work, Brannigan quickly wanders into surface-level idolatry. Pages and pages of tribute to the well-paved D.C. hardcore scene from which the Foo Fighters emerged, and yet another examination of Nirvana's Nevermind, scarcely turn over any new stones. At times, Grohl's name isn't even mentioned for a shocking number of page-turns. Overstuffed with frivolous, wholesale details (the deductible product of a frustrating lack of access), and left plucking quotes from latter-day documentaries to fill space, this is a book written by a Dave Grohl fan (and friend) first, and an author second.