Every musician is, to varied degrees, impacted by the records in their record collection since music is cyclical. Taylor Hawkins, the late former Foo Fighters drummer, was refreshingly upfront about his sources of inspiration compared to other performers. Hawkins even acknowledged having once “ripped off” Roger Waters and John Lennon on the same song.
Hawkins’ primary source of income was the Foo Fighters, but he also amassed a substantial body of solo work. Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, which the drummer co-wrote, was his debut solo album and came out in 2006. The Foo Fighters were one of the biggest bands in the world at the time, but Hawkins felt the need to exercise his creative muscles in a different setting, so he launched a brand-new side-project.
In contrast to the recording of a Foo Fighters album, there was less pressure on this endeavor, thus Hawkins was free to do anything he wanted with the LP. It was a space where he could explore his inspirations and enjoy himself in the studio without having to worry about winning over fans or making enough money to please record company executives.
When he spoke with Newsquest in 2006 about the influences for his record, Hawkins said: “‘Running In Place’ are lyrics I wrote when I was going through a nervous breakdown some time ago. It was like Syd Barrett and Roger Waters.”
He added, “When Syd lost his wife, he began to lose his mind, and after a while, you get tunnel-vision and start to become unrealistic, so these were lyrics I wrote down to this song during that time in my life, conversating with myself, saying don’t go crazy. You finally come out of it, and after that, you end up saying goodbye to old friends and reality.”
Taylor continued, “‘End of The Line’ is an untrusting love song, ‘Drive me Insane’ is about my wife, she drives me insane but I love her. ‘Pitiful’ is a John Lennon rip off, Roger Waters ripped off Lennon and I’ve ripped it off Roger Waters.”
As Hawkins noted, Waters has already gone into great detail on how The Beatles influenced him. In 2015, he spoke with radio station KLCS. “I learned from John Lennon and Paul McCartney and George Harrison that it was okay for us to write about our lives, and what we felt — and to express ourselves… That we could be free artists and that there was a value in that freedom. And there was.”
When discussing the background of “Pitiful,” Hawkins explained that it was written during a particularly difficult time when he was misusing drugs and feeling alone. The musician kept saying, “It was a long time ago when I was abusing drugs, I was feeling weak and sorry for myself. So there’s meaning to every song. The versus have nothing to do with the chorus, like the song Lennon wrote ‘I Am The Walrus’, it’s wordplay.”
Hawkins cries out for assistance in anguish and sings the moving tune, “Mother save me, There’s nowhere left to hide, Except inside, Mother save me, ‘Cause this boy’s lost his way, Again.”
Listen to ‘Pitiful’ down below.