Certain Songs #664: Hüsker Dü – “Up in The Air”

husker-du-warehouse Album: Warehouse: Songs and Stories
Year: 1987

(Mould)

With the happy exception of Drive-by Truckers (who have a new album coming out tomorrow!) (that I’m not going to get to buy for a week cos I’m on vacation in Maui) (yeah, I know, poor me), bands with multiple front men tend to dissolve into acrimonious competition.

And so, as it went with The Beatles and The Eagles before them, and Uncle Tupelo and Pixies after them, the competition between Bob Mould and Grant Hart proved too much, and Warehouse: Songs and Stories — the only album of theirs that I think had a clear winner — proved to be the final Hüsker Dü record.

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Certain Songs #663: Hüsker Dü – “She’s A Woman (And Now He is a Man)”

husker-du-warehouse Album: Warehouse: Songs and Stories
Year: 1987

(Hart)

In the spring and summer of 1987, I was probably as removed knowing what was on the TV as I’ve ever been in my entire life.

Outside of the ritual of taping Late Night With David Letterman — always Dave — I doubt that I watched anything else during that time, which was spent primarily in an apartment in the Tower District with my girlfriend, our roommate, and whichever of our circle of friends happened to come over and hang out.

So I had no idea that Hüsker Dü had been interviewed on The Late Show With Joan Rivers in April of that year. As a matter of fact, I had no idea for at least a couple of decades, when I came across it on YouTube.

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Certain Songs #662: Hüsker Dü – “No Reservations”

husker-du-warehouse Album: Warehouse: Songs and Stories
Year: 1987

(Mould)

Perhaps the prettiest song in Hüsker Dü’s catalog, the glorious “No Reservations” closes out side three of Warehouse: Songs and Stories with neither a whimper or a bang, but rather a long, extended sigh.

And nearly all of that sigh belongs to (let’s assume) Greg Norton’s bass, which intros the the song with a short, backwards fade in, followed immediately by a contemplative drum beat and shimmering guitar accompanying Bob Mould’s first verse:

I hear some news, I read the words
It’s different every day
I get my thoughts from a letter that’s lost
That someone threw away
It says, “don’t give up, ’cause you can’t give away”
The thought’s appreciated
Now at the best, you’ve second-guessed
And never should you have waited

And then, with the bass doubling and slowly dancing around the melody, Mould lets out all of the pain and fear that he’s been feeling inside.

Never changes, the things I feel inside
Sit by a lake and cry
Like a shingle on a roof in a windstorm
Should I let loose and fly?

Gripped by existential despair, crying ice cold ice by a lake, it would almost be too much to bear, if it wasn’t for the the sound of his guitar, grasping ever upwards for some kind of hope and happiness. The hope, at least, shows up during the bridge, as — drawn by a plethora of shiny guitars, some going forwards, some going backwards, some blinking like a beacon on the shoreline — Mould begins to work out of it.

Come along with me
Come along with me
Come along, come along with me
We’ll go to places that we have never seen
And if we’re together, we’ll have a happy time
‘Cause I got no reservations
Noooooooooooooooooooo

And just after that “nooooooooooo,” the bass line from the chorus snakes back in and a plethora of overdubbed Bob Mould’s start singing “na na na na na naaaaaaaaaa”, and it is utterly transcendent.

It’s no secret that I always kinda loved the Hüskers more psychedelic moments, and the back half “No Reservations” is a near-perfect — and unprecedented — example of psychedelic folk-rock.

“No Reservations”

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Certain Songs #661: Hüsker Dü – “Actual Condition”

husker-du-warehouse Album: Warehouse: Songs and Stories
Year: 1987

(Hart)

In a dynamite bit of sequencing, Hüsker Dü sandwiched this uptempo coulda been rockabilly if they’d taken more time romp between two of Bob Mould’s more contemplative songs, as a seeming burst of light in the overall darkness.

And to be sure, the overall musical tone of “Actual Condition” is playful and fun, with background “ahhhs” floating throughout the verses and shout of “my soul” leading into the first guitar solo.

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Certain Songs #660: Hüsker Dü – “It’s Not Peculiar”

husker-du-warehouse Album: Warehouse: Songs and Stories
Year: 1987

(Mould)

While I totally get that Zen Arcade is the landmark that will forever show up on “best of” lists from various publications, that New Day Rising and Flip Your Wig are probably the favorites of anybody who was there at the time and the experimentation of Candy Apple Grey has its adherents, my favorite Hüsker Dü album has always been Warehouse: Songs And Stories.

I realize that’s probably the least popular album among anybody who purports to like them as much as I purport to like them — and I’m hoping that spending a month writing about them fully establishes my bona fides as a big fan — I love the utter generosity and ridiculous consistency Warehouse shows from start to finish.

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