Monday, October 12, 2009

Hüsker Dü: Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely

Having argued, somewhat fancifully, that Hüsker Dü were the Great American Rock Band, America's Beatles even, let MRML present you with not only their single greatest achievement but also one of their Beatles covers.

"Don't Want To Know If You Are Lonely" is the perfect example of what made Hüsker Dü so thrilling. It's all here; fuzz guitar attack, propulsive drumming, psychedelic break-it-down parts, melodic bass work, an indelible chorus and bitter lyrics ("Please leave a number and a message at the tone or you can just go on and leave me alone" goes the final line). And it's a Grant Hart song. Yup, Hart, the singer/drummer whom bassist Greg Norton called the McCartney to guitarist/singer Mould's Lennon. While this analogy quickly breaks down in their solo careers, the greatness of Hüsker Dü, like the Beatles, was their collective strength. As a songwriters Mould and Hart were equals in the band and the latter's solo dominance, in contrast to the former's marginality, does not prevent this song from being their finest moment.

The B-sides here include the song that inspired the Manson murders and an eight minute song that repeats the lines, "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" that sent Jack Nicholson into that murderous rage. Both songs are harsh, abrasive and endurance-defying. Just as the boys intended I'm sure.

Support the band!


  1. Great Post! These Husker Warners era 12" records are hard to come by. Does anyone know where to find the "Could You Be The One" 12" or "Ice Cold Ice" 12"?

  2. Damn, I forgot about the Helter Skelter cover... I alienated a couple of Beatles fans with that back in the day.
    Gonna have to rethink that Dead thing now.

  3. Anon
    I'll put up "Could You..." soon and I'll see what I can about Ice Coid Ice".

    The weird twists and turns of the Husker's discography is part of their power.

  4. I loved Husker Du absolutely brilliant. Don't forget Jeff that your other favourites Mega City Four covered this one live. Great post cheers.

  5. I would argue that Husker Du doesn't have a signature song -- on "Monkey Gone To Heaven," no "Radio Free Europe," and good. Just a lot of great music. Votes for a favorite Husker Du song would be all over the map. Your pick, "Turn On The News," and "Diane" (all by Hart...hmmm) would probably be in the top 10. Mine would be "Pink Turns To Blue" -- jeez, also by Hart. Would an all-Hart compilation sound fantastic, or do you need Mould's songs to make them stand out?

  6. uh...I meant "NO "Monkey Gone To Heaven," etc., in the above post...

  7. Marky
    Yeah, on that live album, good call.The MC4 (and the Doughboys) represented the influence the Huskers had on their immediate successors.

    Makes No Sense At All
    Never Talking To You again
    I Apologize
    Three biggies (All Mould, I think). But it is true that there is frustrating level of excellence (with some real dogs thrown in) that makes it hard to find the break-out hits. (This problems still holds true for Mould's solo career but unfortunately not Hart's.)

  8. Ouch, that cover of "Helter Skelter" is not quite as I remembered it. At the time (late 80's) it seemed ferocious and evil in the best possible way. Now it comes across as an inept piss-take, the musical equivalent to a jerk smirk. I love my "noise-as-music" and I sure do love The Du but sometimes the past should stay put.

  9. jeffen,
    "Never Talking To You Again" is high on my list as well...and it was by Hart. For the record -- the vinyl record, specifically -- side 3 of Zen Arcade is for my money one of the greatest sequences of songs by any band ever.

  10. Crozier

    NTTYA is a Hart song. Man he took a fall.

    I've always been finicky about Zen, the parts I love I'm crazy about, the other parts seem to wash over me.

  11. CPB
    Never said it was pretty - it does makes me hesitant to check out their cover of "Ticket to Ride".

  12. This has been ridiculously hard to find in digital format. Thanks!

  13. Luke
    Glad to help out a Huskers fan.

  14. thanks so much! saw them perform "All Work..." at the Paradise in Boston during the Flip Your Wig tour. Grant Hart and Bob Mould switched instruments at some point in the extended live jam.
    great memories...


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