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

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


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”

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