A greatest hits album is as common to the music business as any other form of media. Once an artist accumulates enough material, it becomes inevitable that some of those choice cuts will eventually be assembled into a more succinct package. With any luck, a band can have unprecedented success with their greatest hits LPs, as was the case with Queen and the Eagles. But when it came to assembling a greatest hits package for the Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl wasn’t happy with the idea.
That’s because the band didn’t sign off on what eventually became the 2009 Greatest Hits album. The band’s label, RCA, had been wanting to put out a compilation album for a number of years, but Grohl resisted. Eventually, the record company exercised a clause in the band’s contract that allowed them to assemble and release a best-of album.
“We were asked to do this a long time ago. We wrote it into a deal a long time ago – that’s how it works,” Grohl explained to BBC Radio 1 back in 2009. “It still seems premature because we’re still a functioning, active band. Those things can look like an obituary.”
Grohl wound up calling the album a too-basic overview of the band’s surface-level career. “It’s like a CliffsNotes version of what we’ve been doing for the last 15 years,” he said. “I think there are better songs than some of those.” Indeed, the final album focused on well-known tracks like ‘Everlong’ and ‘Best of You’ over some of the band’s more impactful deep cuts.
It remains uncertain whether Grohl and the band participated in the choosing of songs once it became clear that RCA was going to put out a greatest hits album with or without their consent. Grohl did wind up penning some of the liner notes, in which he took the time hit back against the concept of a greatest hits record and his distaste for the very album he was writing about.
“These 16 songs are what we’re calling our ‘Greatest Hits’”, Grohl wrote. “Not to be confused with ‘Our Best Songs’ or ‘Our Favorite Songs’, it is a collection of the songs that have defined our band’s identity to most people over the years. The other 65 album tracks… well, some of those might be our greatest songs. ‘Aurora’, ‘New Way Home’, ‘MIA’, ‘Exhausted’, ‘A320’… depends on whom you ask. Personally, I don’t think we’ve written our greatest songs yet. But that door is always open.”
The band would continue to release new material after the 2009 Greatest Hits LP, including releasing some of their most memorable songs like ‘Walk’ and ‘These Days’ on their very next album, 2011’s Wasting Light.
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