Foo Fighters - Everlong

by Tina Schröder

This analysis refers to the music video made by Michel Gondry for the Foo Fighters song “Everlong” from their album “The color and the shape” released in 1997. It is supposed to present the content of the video, look for a deeper meaning and a possible connection between the lyrics and the video.

The intro of the song is used to introduce the two main characters of the video. The camera wanders into a house where a happy couple is shown on photos hanging on the wall. The camera continuous wandering into the bedroom and the couple is shown in bed, sleeping. Here the Foo Fighters are presenting their humorous side right away. Dave Grohl, the lead singer and guitarist, plays the husband, while Taylor Hawkins, the drummer of the band, is all dressed up as the wife. Also the major theme of the video is presented in this first scene: the dream.

Michel Gondry, the director of the video, is known to be fascinated by dreams. He made a whole film about this topic called “La science des rêves”. Closer connections to this film are going to be shown later in this analysis.

In the “Everlong” video Michel Gondry sets up two different dreams that melt into one at the end. First Dave Grohl dreams about being at a party all dressed up as a punk. Two rascals, played by the other two band members Nate Mendel and Pat Smear, are offending his woman, so he grows a huge hand to beat them away. The huge hand is based on a childhood memory of Michel Gondry. When he was a child he used to have nightmares about hands that were growing huge. Other surreal elements that are presented in Dave Grohls dream are very low ceilings and bricked windows.

At the same time his wife dreams that she is alone in a cabin in a forest. Two rascals, again the other two band members, try to break into the house to kill her while her husband is in the forest looking for firewood. This part of the video is a parody of the cult horror film “Evil Dead” where a group of friends spend the weekend in a cabin in the woods and get attacked by zombies.

In the “Everlong” video the wife tries to keep the rascals outside but when she notices that she cannot handle the situation alone, she takes the telephone and calls her husband in reality.

This is the melting point of the whole video. This is the connection between two dreams, and about dream and reality. The husband is dreaming his dream when he suddenly hears a telephone ring. The telephone rings in reality but he does not wake up right away to notice that. For him the telephone is ringing in his dream. Since he does not know that he is dreaming, for him the dream is reality. He and his wife enter a room where they find the telephone which is huge and making a very loud noise. He tries to pick up but the receiver is too heavy. Suddenly he wakes up and notices that he was sleeping and that the telephone is ringing in reality. He picks up and his wife asks him for help out of her dream. He tries to wake her up but it does not work, so he forces himself to fall asleep. But he does not enter in her dream right away, he first goes back to his dream at the party. Then he wakes up in his dream but not into reality, he just goes from his dream to her dream. This is very interesting because that implies that we have different stages and phases of dreams, like the existence of a dream in a dream. The video was made in 1997 and years later in 2010, the movie “Inception” by Christopher Nolan works with that exact same concept.

Dave Grohl runs to the cabin, grows a huge hand again and saves his wife. They throw the two rascals into the lake. In the final scene the couple is in their bedroom, still sleeping in bed. The two rascals are there and magically transform into the band members that they usually are. They are simply pulling off their faces and clothes and transform to their real life personalities. So does Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins. The Band is now performing in the bedroom of the couple. There is total confusion between dream and reality and that is also the end of the video.

Gondry emphasizes the difference between dream and reality with different methods. Reality id shown in black and white while the dream is shown in color. He also uses water running down the screen to crossfade between dream and reality. At the end of the video there are fast cuts between scenes in black and white and scenes in reality. This emphasizes the total confusion between dream and reality.

There are some connections between the “Everlong” music video and Gondry’s Film “La science des rêves”. First of all, both have the major theme in common: the dream. In both of his works Gondry processes experiences he made in his own personal dreams. He once said that when he was a child he often had nightmares about his hands growing huge. He used this incident in both works, but in a positive way. In “Evelong” and in “La science des rêves” the protagonists use their huge hands to protect themselves or the ones they love. In one of the last fighting scenes in “Everlong” Dave Grohl grows a huge hand again, even if he has some nunchucks, which he knows to use very well in the video. But this also makes part of the humerous side of the video. Grohl already has a useful weapon in his hands which he could use to defend his girlfriend against the rascals. He also demonstrates how good he is in using those nunchucks, but then he throws them away and grows a huge hand instead to fight with. This reinforces the comedy effect that the video has in many ways.

Another similarity of the film and the music video is that things you do in your dream can affect your life in reality at the same time. When Grohl and Hawkins fight in the dream, they are also shown moving in bed during their sleep. They are performing fighting gestures with their hands and arms while they are asleep. This is a real phenomenon of sleeping people and animals. Even dogs tend to move their legs and make running movements while they are asleep. Sometimes they even bark or growl. In “La science des rêves” the protagonists falls asleep while taking a bath. He dreams about bringing over a letter to his neighbor. When he wakes up, he notices wet footprints on the floor leading to his neighbor’s apartment and he becomes aware that he actually delivered the letter in his sleep involuntarily.

The “wife” in the music video dreams about being strangled, but in reality it is her husband trying desperately to wake her up so that she can escape from her nightmare. This scene also evokes connections to another famous horror movie: the nightmare on elm street series. The people who are awake want to help the people who are asleep, but it is impossible to wake them up. So instead of waking her up the husband forces himself to fall back asleep to help his wife in her dream. This is the supernatural side of the video. Here it is suggested that dreams are more than just something our brain makes up, that they have a real connection to reality. But it could also mean that we often do not know if we are dreaming or if we are awake. Another commonality between “La science des rêves” and “Everlong”: the confusion between dream and reality. In both works the viewer cannot tell for sure what is dream and what is reality, especially at the end of the video/movie.

The “Everlong” video is also a very good representative for Gondry’s special delicacy, and so is “La science des rêves”. They both show the special esthetics Gondry is famous for and which is shown in most of his video clips. Gondry is not a big fan of modern technologies. Nowadays, with Photoshop and other digital programs to work films and photos, almost everything is possible. Everything can look really real and authentic, even if it seems to be impossible. Gondry usually does not use these kinds of special effects. He is famous for using special effects, but he prefers the “handmade” kind of special effects. He rather uses clouds made out of real cotton, if he wants clouds to appear in a room, instead of using a computer program to make it look like real clouds. This is an interesting approach, since the viewer would know in both cases that the clouds cannot be real because clouds usually never appear in closed rooms. So Gondry does not even try to make the clouds look “real”, he just presents the idea of having clouds in a room. This is very special and became the typical and unique Gondry style, which many tried to copy afterwards. These “handmade” special effects seem to be “low budget”, but they are actually so much more work than just using modern technology. But it is not that Gondry never uses modern technology, sometimes he mixes both techniques to get the results he wants.

The only moment where Gondry uses modern digital technology is at the end of the clip, when the two rascals come to the bedroom of the couple. First they pull off their faces and then they pull off the rest of their bodies, and underneath we can see the real band members of the Foo Fighters with their instruments starting to play. This is not a handmade special effect, but it still fits into the rest of the video. At this point we have the connection and/or confusion  between dream and reality, where everything is possible.

This puerile humor, or “childlike creativity and an out-of-control imagination”[1] like one might call it, is not only typical for Gondry, but also for the Foo Fighters. And that is why they make such a great match together. and it might also be part of the success of the “Everlong” video. The Foo Fighters are known to have very funny and unique videos, even those one not directed by Gondry. “Everlong” fits very well into that esthetic. The wig of the wife, the way the costumes are chosen, the exaggerated gestures of the protagonists, everything seems to be a parody which makes it really funny to watch.

The last point to talk about is the connection between the lyrics of the song and the music video: there is none. The lyrics tell about a broken love while the video has “the dream” as a major theme. The only possible connection could be that it is also a couple in a relationship being shown in the video. So the video and the lyrics both have the theme “relationship” in common. But in the lyrics of the song the relationship is already over and Grohl is singing about his grief, while in the video we have a happy ending where the couple manages to overcome the evil dangers in their dream together.

[1] Zit. nach: