I’m Curi­ous To Know Exactly How You Are

I had to put a Hüsker Dü song in this list, as they are one of my all-time favour­ite bands, but it was hard to decide which one. In the end I went for a really obvi­ous choice- the first song of theirs I got into.

Hüsker Dü star­ted out as a straight-up hard­core band in 1980, and became more and more melod­ic as the years passed until they split up in 1987, I think hitting the point of perfect contrast between the two around 1983/​4. Both guitar­ist Bob Mould and drum­mer Grant Hart sang and wrote songs- this being one of Grant Hart’s.

As well as the pure momentum and harsh joy of their music, I’m also very appre­ci­at­ive of the fact that Hüsker Dü were a band with two semi-out gay/​bi men in, which was a pretty diffi­cult situ­ation to be in, in the ultra-macho world of Amer­ic­an punk in the early 80s. (When Grant Hart sadly died recently I was however over­joyed to find out that Grant was short for Grantzberg. Grantzberg).

Candy Apple Grey was the first album I ever bought on vinyl around 99/​2000, when I was four­teen to fifteen. I was a big Nirvana fan, and used to read old inter­views and reviews and follow up on the refer­ences from them, discov­er­ing bands like the Pixies, Wipers and the Vasel­ines in that way. I had the inter­net at home, but it was essen­tially useless for actu­ally listen­ing to music as it was so slow and there was hardly any audio actu­ally avail­able, so often you could hear a lot about a band before ever hear­ing their music.

This was the case for me with Hüsker Dü. I had dusted off an old record play­er found in a cupboard at my dad’s house (contrary to many dads he has no interest in music), and star­ted going to the excel­lent local second hand record shop near me- the much-missed Magic Discs in Gilling­ham, where I spot­ted Candy Apple Grey. I had already picked up the idea that Hüsker Dü and SST were import­ant, so I had to get it. (This was before Our Band Could Be Your Life came out- a book very much worth read­ing, about some of my all-time favour­ite music)

I imme­di­ately loved it, and tried to get other people into it too. Unfor­tu­nately at that time the major­ity of my school friends were into Nu Metal, and they weren’t that fussed (the same story for the Pixies). You win some, you lose some. I just kind of ploughed my own furrow of loving Hüsker Dü alone. I couldn’t get hold of an actu­al Hüsker Dü t-shirt locally, so I made a really bad home-made one in Textiles class (see also bad hand­made NIN patches made at the same time). About ten years ago I got a real Hüsker Dü shirt off of eBay, and it remains one of my most worn items. I’m feel­ing sad lately though as I seem to have misplaced it while moving house. I’m sure it will turn up some­where. The only disad­vant­age of it however is that it makes strange men come up to you and fire Hüsker Dü trivia ques­tions at you, like they suspect you of having bought a t-shirt of some 80s punk band you’ve never heard of because you are just so desper­ate to impress them. Hey guys, you ain’t that inter­est­ing. Even worse when I like to wear it with a flowery dress. This is against the rules of early 80s punk appar­ently and will incense them worse.

Here’s a photo of me on my 26th birth­day in 2011 wear­ing it (and also drenched from a hail­storm- the joy of a Janu­ary birth­day). Yes, that is a banana frit­ter with a candle in it.

As a bonus, here’s a short Spoti­fy playl­ist of some person­al Hüsker Dü high­lights. They’re just in chro­no­lo­gic­al order as they appear on the albums. Metal Circus/​Zen Arcade-era Hüsker Dü is prob­ably my high-point.

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