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
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.
Every Certain Song Ever
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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.
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.
In the early spring of 1987, I lived in a loft in Clovis that was five minutes away from Video Zone. That meant that I could wake up at 7:30 and be at the store by 8:00 to open it up and start checking in and shelving the overnight returns in time for the store to open at 9:00.
And since I was the supervisor for that early shift, it meant that I could put the tape I made of Warehouse: Songs and Stories in the boombox in my office and blast it while we got the store ready to go.
After Candy Apple Grey, there was almost an interminable wait for the next Hüsker Dü record. The 10 months we had to wait for Warehouse: Songs and Stories was actually the longest time between new Hüsker Dü albums since the year between Land Speed Record and Everything Falls Apart back in 1982-1983.
And with the appearance of the double-album Warehouse: Songs and Stories in January, 1987, Hüsker Dü capped off one of the greatest bursts of creativity in rock ‘n’ roll history: seven albums worth of material — A to A+ material, to boot! — in 30 months. July 1984 – January 1987.