1.17.2006

iPod notes

Husker Du, Warehouse Songs.

Husker Du was one of several blessings that got me though New Jersey suburban public high school in the mid 80s. I can still remember a major shift in my musical brain when I brought home the 45 of Husker's cover of The Byrds' Eight Miles High, totally floored by the passion of the singing, and the noisy, expansive guitar sound. It felt like whole set of confined emotions being released all at once. It would have sounded like pointless, angry noise to most people around me, and I greeted it with the relief and joy of suddenly and unexpectedly being understood.

What I couldn't have known at the time, and what I see now looking back on the musical archeology, was that I was receiving an odd, multilayered transmission of American modal sound that went from John Coltrane to The Byrds to Husker Du.

As a teenager, I avidly collected any Husker Du I could get my hands, which was most of it, I think, because I was lucky enough to live within driving distance of The Princeton Record Exchange - a crucial source of music in that area.

I know I'm not alone among people my age in feeling that Zen Arcade is the Husker Du masterpiece. I still think that. By the time Warehouse Songs came out - '87, on the major Warner Bros., I recall thinking they had sold out or something, and consequently didn't pay much attention to Warehouse Songs. What is it about the teen age mind - not fully wired yet they say?

Warehouse Songs is actually great pop/punk way ahead of its time. I can now appreciate the more shimmery production and get into the pop element. Simple, short earnest songs that just define their own parameters of reality and expression and communication, often in an unabashedly dramatic and sometimes almost theatrical way. Yet I still feel I am in the presence of real people, which is often the thing that is missing in very dramatic music.

One natural reaction is to say the Grant Hart songs aren't as good as the Bob Mould Songs. But there's something that happens in toggling between the two that expands the information grid you're working with over the course of the album. The more muted patterns of the Hart songs and the more brilliant patterns of the Mould material form a moiré pattern.

1 comment:

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