Certain Songs #658: Hüsker Dü – “These Important Years”

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


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.

Who can compete with that nexus of prolificness and quality? I can think only of two artists: The Clash, who cranked out (if you count all of the singles) eight albums worth of material between The Clash in April 1977 & Sandinista! in December 1980, and Bob Dylan, between the recording of Bringing It All Back Home in January, 1985 and The Basement Tapes in October, 1967.

That’s some pretty rarified air that Hüsker Dü was up in, and while there are those who dismiss Warehouse: Songs and Stories for not being as adventurous as their earlier work, I love it for its ruthless consistency: there are no bad songs to be found, and several are as great as anything they ever did.

Well, you get up every morning
And you see, it’s still the same
And ll the floors and all the walls
And all the rest remains
Nothing changes fast enough
The hurry, worry days
It makes you want to give it up
And drift into a haze

That’s the opening verse to “These Important Years,” which sets the tone for Warehouse: Songs and Stories. Compared to the more uptempo songs that opened their previous records, “These Important Years” is more mid-tempo, like they’re letting us know that “hey, we’ve got some time here.”

We’re all exchanging pleasantries
No matter how we feel
And no one knows the difference
’cause it all seems so unreal
You’d better grab a hold of something
Simple, but it’s true
(But it’s true)
If you don’t stop to smell the roses now
They might end up on you

Expectations only mean you really think you know
What’s coming next, and you don’t

That was the subtext of Warehouse: Songs and Stories: we’re all getting older, and so, it’s time to appreciate our youth even as it’s slipping away. Or as Mould sings in the end: “These are your important years, your life.”

I’m not sure I really recognized it at the time, but in retrospect, it might have been the parallel between the more mature situations I was in — living with my girlfriend, trying to become the manager of Video Zone — and the more mature music that Hüsker Dü was making that made me love Warehouse so much.

“These Important Years”

“These Important Years” performed live in 1987 (muddy sound)

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