Top 10 Grant Hart Husker Du Songs
Husker Du were a band of shifting and ever-growing personalities, influences and styles. Bob Mould emerged early as the group's central point, easy to see because he was the singer, guitarist and songwriter behind some of its first records. But drummer Grant Hart soon became an equally strong voice, as you'll see in our list of the Top 10 Grant Hart Husker Du Songs.
As the band grew, so did the division among its three members -- mostly between Mould and Hart, who fought for songwriting equality. He proved himself, a little each time on subsequent records, until he shared almost half of the space on Husker Du's final album, 1987's double-record Warehouse: Songs and Stories.
There were struggles as the band came apart, and bitterness that warmed a bit toward the end of Hart's life in 2017. Hart and Mould were never a team. Rather, their complementary yet diametric voices made their band one of the era's best, as our list of the Top 10 Grant Hart Husker Du Songs proves.
By the time Husker Du's last album arrived in 1987, Hart and Mould were pretty much sharing songwriting equally. This epic track -- Warehouse's longest -- ends the album on a gloriously noisy and chaotic note, with instruments colliding, feedback howling and Hart uttering the title over and over until the fade-out. A fitting finale.
The double-record Warehouse: Songs and Stories left Hart with much room to explore, and on the time-signature-switching "She Floated Away" he indulges in some throwback psychedelia. It's one of the band's most musically complex songs, while never straying too far from its core wall-of-guitars sound.
Hart's first song to show up on the band's last album bounces out of the speakers and spotlights his growing melodic chops. He and Mould had developed into sharp and distinctive songwriters by that point, and their dichotomy made later Husker Du albums often thrilling rides. "Charity" piles on the hooks.
Zen Arcade is one of the '80s' great noise albums (the 14-minute closer, "Reoccurring Dreams," may be college rock's all-time greatest freak-out), but there are some tuneful moments there too. The acoustic "Never Talking to You Again" doesn't even make it to two minutes, but its stripped-down and biting tone makes an impression.
Because Warehouse: Songs and Stories was a double album, and because he had fought to get more of his songs on Husker Du records, Hart checked in with nine cuts on the band's final LP. "She Is a Woman (And Now He Is a Man)," another of Hart's near-pop numbers, was even issued as a single to rock radio stations.
Husker Du's early records were spotty. It wasn't until their second album, Zen Arcade, that they really zeroed in on their defining style and sound. "Diane," from the 1983 EP Metal Circus and Hart's first keeper, is based on a true story about a murdered local waitress. Its sweet-and-sour chorus hinted at things to come.
Zen Arcade was a grab bag of sounds and styles, but Hart's "Turn on the News" rolls out like a stadium-sized singalong -- not something you usually heard from Husker Du's post-punk contemporaries. The song kicks off Side Four, right before the LP's 14-minute closer, a perfect lead-in to the chaotic conclusion.
Husker Du's major-label debut marked a turning point for the band in more ways than one. Hart managed to wrestle more control over the songs, landing four of his on Candy Apple Grey. "Sorry Somehow," like Bob Mould's six tracks, steers toward pop territory, and reveals a songwriter, and band, refusing to cater to expectations.
The double Zen Arcade is Husker Du's greatest record and one of the era's best LPs. But for all its sprawl and ambition, it's never boring, thanks to the band's influences (they were into the Byrds and the Who as well as punk's usual suspects). "Pink Turns to Blue" is a highlight, a cautionary tale wrapped in blazing guitars.
Don't believe the cynics who say Husker Du lost their edge when they jumped from the indies to a big label. Candy Apple Grey includes some of their best songs -- track for track, Hart and Bob Mould's greatest work may be here. "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely" is the band at its tightest, most focused and most melodic.