July 19, 2009

NT's greatest hits, No. 17 (of 34)

More, more, more…

"Could You Be the One?" by Husker Du

I wasn't really into music at all until I was 13, when I discovered classic rock. I've written before about how I developed a knee-jerk disdain for most new rock & roll being made at the time, but in hindsight, this was mostly due to the fact that I had no idea what was going on in the rock underground. Scratch that—I didn't know what was going on anywhere but classic-rock radio.

An exception was Hüsker Dü, the pride of the Twin Cities postpunk scene, who came to my attention when I was 16 and never left it. I saw "Could You Be the One?" on MTV's 120 Minutes, which is appropriate, since I imagine 99% of "alt" music discoveries among people of my generation were made through this show. The video:

The headlong melody of this song, the palpable desperation of the lyrics—a seamless combination that hooked me instantly. I went out and bought the nearly perfect album Warehouse: Songs and Stories (which, I later learned, was the last record by the band, since broken up) and played it till my crappy Walkman ate the tape. I was edging into the alt scene, slowly, and part of what attracted me to Hüsker Dü was its inate understanding of the transcendence of classic rock & roll. It's no coincidence that around the same time, I was developing a passion for The Byrds; at its best, Hüsker was essentially a faster and louder reconfiguring of the Byrds' hook and jangle. (Similarly, I would later fall in love with the Buzzcocks, who did a similar trick with the Beatles' template.)

BTW, I still think Warehouse is Hüsker's best album, which is an unusual opinion, I know; I really don't care for most of the band's early, more hardcore material—no, Zen Arcade never did it for me— and I think Bob Mould needed more time to flower into a class-A songwriter. But by the time the band got to Flip Your Wig, they might have been the best rock band in America. No small honor, even in the mid-1980s.

More of NT's greatest hits:
"Summer in the City," "Teenage Kicks," "Strawberry Fields Forever, " "Tunnel of Love," "I Get Around," "Local Girls," "Don't Let's Start," "Suffragette City," "See-Saw," "My Name Is Jonas," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "Reelin' in the Years," "Objects of My Affection" and "Crimson and Clover," "OK Apartment" and "Just What I Needed"


Unknown said...

"Hüsker was essentially a faster and louder reconfiguring of the Byrds' hook and jangle."

Goddamn right! In case this claim needs more support, I saw Grant Hart open for Alex Chilton.

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