With their second album ‘The Colour And The Shape’ released to a positive reception in May 1997 the band hired a new drummer in Taylor Hawkins and headed out on the road once more. Much of their schedule would be filled with live performances around the world but another type of duty on their itinerary becoming more and more prevalent were radio and TV appearances. One such appearance came on March 18th, 1998 as Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins appeared on the Howard Stern show.
The duo took part in a lengthy interview with Stern but towards the end of the show, Grohl was due to perform a song with his acoustic guitar. When asked by Stern what he would choose to perform Grohl suggested ‘For All The Cows’, a song he’d performed acoustically on a few previous occasions. Stern, seemingly unimpressed with the choice asked what he was “really going to do”, suggesting he perform a “hit”. A member of Stern’s production team suggested ‘Everlong’, with Stern agreeing.
Over the previous nine months of touring many of their new songs had already become fan favorites, including the singles ‘Monkey Wrench’, ‘My Hero’ and indeed, ‘Everlong’. The song was a big hit at the live shows and the studio version of the song was also getting a lot of positive reception from radio airings.
Grohl explained that he’d never performed the song acoustically previously, this would be the very first time. The new rendition of the song became hugely popular with fans who began sharing recordings of the broadcast, and other radio stations were also soon aware of the new version.
With requests pouring in for Dave Grohl to release the acoustic version he decided that rather than the slightly sloppy Stern version be the one to put out, he’d quickly head to a recording studio to do a proper version. Not long after the Stern broadcast he headed to WGNS Studios in Washington D.C., the very same place he’d recorded the first demo of the song in December of 1996.
The recording was very fast, studio co-owner Geoff Turner describing the new version as “very quiet, almost withdrawn.” Turner also noted that Dave was suffering from ill-health during recording, expressing surprise that it saw release - “I thought that version was kind of dead in the water because Dave had a cold and he was in a rush and it was very noisy.” That noise he was referring to was the outside noise from the studio being picked up by the sensitive microphones, something he noticed the first time hearing it on the radio - “I was like, wow, I can still hear the Metrobus rumble in the background.”
The new recording was soon sent across the United States for radio airplay but curiously it was not featured on a Foo Fighters release at the time, despite further live performances in the same style and its strong popularity. A year after the initial performance, March 2000, Grohl was making another radio show appearance when a caller to the show asked about the ‘Everlong’ performance. ‘Soon’ was Grohl’s response as to when it would be released. Despite that assurance, it would, in fact, be a further nine years until that happened, included as the final track on the Foo Fighters Greatest Hits compilation album in 2009.