A musical trigger warning anchored by an omnious Greg Norton bassline and Grant Hart’s kick-heavy drums, “Diane” is probably the hardest of all of Hüsker Dü’s great songs to listen to, at least from a lyrical standpoint.
It’s about the 1980 rape and murder of a St Paul waitress Diane Edwards (whom I think Hart knew, though I can’t source that) from the point of view of the serial killer who did it.
So it’s rough going on those verses, especially the first time you hear it, which starts with a dead-eyed Hart making his in-character pitch.
Hey little girl, do you need a ride?
Well, I’ve got room in my wagon
Why don’t you hop inside?
We could cruise down Robert Street all night long
But I think I’ll just rape you and kill you instead
Jesus! But of course, rock ‘n’ roll — and especially punk rock — has always tackled tough subjects, and then somehow provided catharsis, which “Diane” ends up doing.
Said catharsis comes mostly through Bob Mould’s guitar, which roars with disapproval from the beginning, and then halfway through the song, instead of a solo, starts raining white-hot lava from the sky, destroying everything in its path.
But it also comes on the chorus, where Hart switches out of the serial killer personal and just screams “Diane” over and over again, mourning her death as loudly — and melodically — as possible.
It’s all incredibly chilling, a relentlessly scary bad trip that also happens to be absolutely unforgettable.
“Diane” performed live in Minneapolis, 1981
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