Category: The Daily Loper

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.

During their appearance — where Joan pron, they played two songs, Bob Mould’s super-pop “Could You Be The One?” and Grant Hart’s massive break-up song, “She’s A Woman (And Now He Is a Man),” parenthetical added no doubt so people didn’t assume they were a Beatles cover.

“She’s A Woman (And Now He Is A Man)” is easily Hart’s best song on Warehouse: Songs And Stories (apologies to “She Floated Away” fans), and is structurally different from a lot of his other songs, especially the ones about relationships.

For one thing, he’s not really a participant in the break-up, but rather an observer.

Well, there’s a vacancy between them everyday
And a sense of guilt that’s not going away
And when they get older perhaps they’ll understand, uh-ho-ho
She’s a woman and now he is a man

For another thing, there’s an actual bridge, which ramps up the energy halfway through, and also makes you question whether or not Hart is using the third person to disguise the fact that he is, indeed, writing about himself after all.

And now he’s into something
That her heart cannot forgive
She’s saying to herself
“This is not the way to live”
Well, he’ll never listen to her
’cause his mind is like a sieve
Oh brother, oh brother, I’m telling your sister
No way can I resist her

With Bob Mould’s guitar firing like a laser beam, Greg Norton’s bass providing mega-hooks, and Hart’s long, arcing melody line, “She’s A Woman (And Now He Is A Man)” is alternately melancholic and uplifting, and one of my very favorite of Hart’s songs.

“She’s A Woman (And Now He Is A Man)”

“She’s A Woman (And Now He Is A Man)” performed live on Late Show With Joan Rivers, 1987

Hüsker Dü on The Late Show With Joan Rivers

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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(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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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.

All the better to mask the dark words that Grant Hart is singing.

Well, the actual condition of my soul
Sometimes feels like being sucked into a hole
And I’ve come to this position
Regardless of religion
It’s the actual condition of my soul

It’s been well-documented, of course, that Grant Hart was dealing with a pretty severe heroin addiction by this time, so it’s not surprising that his feelings about it would come out in his songwriting. And so while “Actual Condition” isn’t quite as dark — and nowhere as explicit — as “The Main”, it’s dark enough.

All of which is completely contrasted by the two-step beat and Bob Mould’s guitar, which plays curlicues around this vocals during the verses, and kicks out not one, but two playful, near-joyous guitar solos in a desperate attempt to not just distract us, but himself, from the words his soon-to-be-former partner is singing.

“Actual Condition”

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Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

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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.

I mean, I’m not even writing about songs like “Charity, Chastity, Prudence and Hope” “Friend You’ve Got to Fall,” “Standing in the Rain” or even “She Floated Away,” Grant Hart’s punk rock sea shanty, despite the fact that every single one of them is absolutely aces.

That said, my heart always gave a little flutter when I got to the opening staccato guitar riff that opened “It’s Not Peculiar,” because it signaled the beginning of a run of songs that were beyond aces, that showed just how much the Hüskers had perfected their craft without losing even an ounce of passion.

Maybe Bob Mould and Grant Hart were playing “Can You Top This?” on Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Maybe they’d always been playing it, with each one acutely aware of what the other brought to his songs. In the case of Mould’s “It’s Not Peculiar,” I’m not even sure Hart was singing on it — he certainly isn’t doing the counterpoint vocals on the verses — but his leaping, dancing drumbeat is absolutely key to the song.

As are Mould’s typically introspective, typically unsparing lyrics:

Taking all of this is taking all of me
Sometimes I wish I had the energy
When it falls apart like fragments of our lives
Give a little bit, and give a lot to die

It’s not peculiar
There’s nothing to devise at ah ah ah all right

With a whole mens chorus of ‘ahhhhhhhhhhhhhsssss” and Mould’s guitar loaded up with so much sustain it’s practically playing itself, they then repeat that stuttering chorus over and over again, Greg Norton’s bass some how keeping it from totally drifting away.

At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right

Eventually, “It’s Not Peculiar” begins to spiral around itself, as the backing vocals, lead vocals, guitars twist in and out of each other searching for a way to break the whirlpool they’re creating, until the last possible second, where Mould’s guitar recovers just long enough to slam the song home with the same riff it opened with.

“It’s Not Peculiar”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

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.

I mean, I’m not even writing about songs like “Charity, Chastity, Prudence and Hope” “Friend You’ve Got to Fall,” “Standing in the Rain” or even “She Floated Away,” Grant Hart’s punk rock sea shanty, despite the fact that every single one of them is absolutely aces.

That said, my heart always gave a little flutter when I got to the opening staccato guitar riff that opened “It’s Not Peculiar,” because it signaled the beginning of a run of songs that were beyond aces, that showed just how much the Hüskers had perfected their craft without losing even an ounce of passion.

Maybe Bob Mould and Grant Hart were playing “Can You Top This?” on Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Maybe they’d always been playing it, with each one acutely aware of what the other brought to his songs. In the case of Mould’s “It’s Not Peculiar,” I’m not even sure Hart was singing on it — he certainly isn’t doing the counterpoint vocals on the verses — but his leaping, dancing drumbeat is absolutely key to the song.

As are Mould’s typically introspective, typically unsparing lyrics:

Taking all of this is taking all of me
Sometimes I wish I had the energy
When it falls apart like fragments of our lives
Give a little bit, and give a lot to die

It’s not peculiar
There’s nothing to devise at ah ah ah all right

With a whole mens chorus of ‘ahhhhhhhhhhhhhsssss” and Mould’s guitar loaded up with so much sustain it’s practically playing itself, they then repeat that stuttering chorus over and over again, Greg Norton’s bass some how keeping it from totally drifting away.

At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right
At ah ah ah ah ah ah ah all right

Eventually, “It’s Not Peculiar” begins to spiral around itself, as the backing vocals, lead vocals, guitars twist in and out of each other searching for a way to break the whirlpool they’re creating, until the last possible second, where Mould’s guitar recovers just long enough to slam the song home with the same riff it opened with.

“It’s Not Peculiar”

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page