Only angels have wings, Girl. And poets have all the words. The earth belongs to the two of us and the sky belongs to birds. – Grant Hart
I wasn’t planning on posting anything today, but a few moments ago, I read an article that saddened me deeply. Grant Hart, former drummer and vocalist for 1980s powerhouse Hüsker Dü died at the age of 59. For those who are unfamiliar, Hüsker Dü embodied everything that was magical about college radio in the formative decade of my teens.
The trio from Minneapolis began as a hardcore act, playing furious songs at breakneck speed. With their double disc magnum opus Zen Arcade, they cemented themselves as one of the defining acts in the evolution of punk rock, alternative, grunge, emo, hardcore and melodic hard rock. With each passing release, they honed their sound into one that was completely their own. It’s not a stretch to say that without the trailblazing influence of Hüsker Dü , the grunge explosion of the 90s spearheaded by Nirvana would never have occurred.
I saw Hüsker Dü live several times, including their final NYC show at the Ritz that was so cathartic I lost a shoe in the mosh pit and had to wander around Manhattan in a ripped T-shirt and a dirty sock while waiting to catch the subway back to Penn Station. Guitarist and vocalist Bob Mould had a strange stage presence, with his guitar slung low below his torso of considerable girth causing him to lurch about the stage as he filled the club with the delicious sounds of his searing buzzsaw guitar. Bassist Greg Norton would have been a rather unassuming presence if not for his anachronistic handlebar mustache. But Grant had perhaps the most unique presence among them. His long unwashed hair and grease-stained T-shirt coupled with the fact that he hammered away on the double-bass with filthy bare feet made him look like the world’s greatest homeless drummer. Though Mould’s songwriting contributions exceeded Hart’s by a ratio of about 10 to 1, the songs Grant wrote were always among their most memorable.
Rest in peace, Grant. Thanks for providing the coolest soundtrack imaginable to my teen years and beyond.