365 Days of Album Recommendations – Sep 15 [RIP Grant Hart]

Hüsker Dü – Warehouse: Songs and Stories

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I am aware that there are controversies around whether one is supposed to like this album or not.

I don’t care.

It’s my favorite Hüsker Dü album, and it always will be.

Probably the first and most important thing that ever happened to me in my musical career was trying out for, and being asked to join, a band called Hoi Polloi. That invitation changed my life.

I’d had a miserable first year in Berkeley. I’d done nothing musical I was proud of, and I hated myself. After a summer in Seattle getting my head on straight, I returned to California, foresworn to do something, ANYTHING, musical.

It was an omen.

My first day back on the Berkeley campus, I saw a Sharpie’d and Xeroxed flyer on a pole seeking a guitarist. It was for a band called Hoi Polloi. I’d heard of them of course, they were quite popular already. The flyer included a list of bands that Hoi Polloi considered influences. Right at the top was Hüsker Dü. I decided right then and there I was going to audition.

On a drive down to LA with a friend, I listened to the Hoi Polloi demo tape over and over, then I listened to Hüsker Dü over and over. I didn’t have a guitar on the drive, I just listened.

My audition was on Monday. The trip to LA had been pre-planned. I borrowed an old acoustic from my friend’s mom of all things, and learned the songs as best as I could. We got back to Berkeley Sunday night. I auditioned on Monday. I got the offer. I played my first show with Hoi Polloi at The Starry Plough in Oakland. I listened to Hüsker Dü on the drive to the show.

Specifically, I listened to “Ice Cold Ice” over and over. That’s one of the greatest songs ever. It’s my favorite Hüsker Dü song. I couldn’t believe a song could be so rock, so weird, so angsty, so catchy, and so beautiful, all at once. The lyrics are incredible:

We’re all machines and all are one 
We’re catching up on what’s been done 
Stealing glimpses from the past 
Well, these impressions always last 

We’re never penetrating, always contemplating
We sit and count the blessings but we’re blessed by icons
No one else could trust in ice cold ice cold ice cold ice

But above all else, I loved the drums on this song. The opening kick drum thing is perfection. But at the 3:34 mark, when Grant Hart goes into that half-time tom pattern. It’s fucking genius. It’s pure fuckin’ punk rock indie genius.

And now, it will never, ever happen again.

RIP Grant Hart.

 


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