Grant Hart (Husker Du)

Well it is a quiet house this Saturday morning with children at sleepover, work and abroad.

The sun is out and the sky is blue and there are at least two snippets of song going round the back of my head that I can’t put my finger on. To try and banish them I have put on an old Grateful Dead album to listen to whilst I drink my morning tea and write this.

Having done that I pick up a listing magazine that was brought home yesterday and see that as well as John Grant and Phosphorescent playing in Liverpool later this year Grant Hart is playing in Leaf on 31 August. Shit. All this courtesy of Harvest Sun Promotions. I probably owe them a beer or something.

Grant Hart used to be in Husker Du.

Husker Du were one of a group of bands (REM, The Go-Betweens, The Replacements) that came out of the wood work in the early 1980’s that seemed to offer a new beginning for rock music after the onslaught of punk and new wave. In a lot of ways Husker Du were the best.

The name comes from a Finnish board game that translates as ‘do you remember’. They took the sound of The Beatles and the Byrds and put them through a blender of fast and loud guitars and drums and then wrote some good songs over them

They were famous for a corruscating cover of Eight Miles High. But for me it was a version of Helter Skelter that appeared on a B’side that did it. It eviscerated the original (and the desecration that U2 visited upon it) and spat it out as if it was the last song that was ever going to matter. It was a live version and on the fade you can hear them starting on Daytripper. It must have been a good night.

Grant Hart was the drummer and wrote half of their songs with the other half being written by Bob Mould. They made half a dozen or so albums over about five years.  New Day Rising is one of my favourites and through the guitars you had almost pop songs like The girl who Liked UFO’s.

They split messily. Their last album was Warehouse:Songs and Stories and after a few beers I will occasionally try and make out their argument that when that album was done with and the guitars and drumsticks had been put down there was no point in any other band having a go.

The last song on the album was written by Grant Hart and called You Can Live at Home. It was a break up song and as it came to a close you could hear the drums and guitars almost fighting it out with Grant Hart singing over the top ‘Walk, walk away, keep on walking away Go.’

Grant Hart then released a solo album and some more albums under the band name Nova Mob.

Years later we went to see a band play in a hall in Reading called Zu Zu’s Petals and it was only when we got there we realised that Grant Hart was playing with a band. He was brilliant and even played a few Husker Do songs.

He is about to release a new album which is a concept album of sorts centred around Milton’s Paradise Lost. Rather bizarrely I saw that he played in West Cork a few weeks ago. If I had been there I would have made the trip to go see him.

He is playing in Liverpool 31 August. I will be there.

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