Certain Songs #662: Hüsker Dü – “No Reservations”

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


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.

“No Reservations”

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