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

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


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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