10 Best Husker Du Songs
In the annals of ’80s American punk rock, Husker Du remain something of a mind-boggling phenomenon. These three Midwestern everymen tried on every hat in the underground department — from art rock to blinding hardcore — and after falling into their own singular sound, they somehow caught the attention of the major labels in a pre-Nirvana world. Next week, Huskers drummer Grant Hart’s releases ‘The Argument,’ his first solo album in 10 years, and to commemorate this event — and perhaps spark an argument or two of our own — we’ve put together this list of the 10 Best Husker Du Songs.
‘Turn It Around’
One of the bright spots from the band’s otherwise shoddy final studio release, ‘Turn it Around’ is a quintessential example of the pop songcraft guitarist and lead vocalist Bob Mould is capable of. It’s simultaneously dreamy, crunchy and chiming — perfect, in other words.
‘Pink Turns to Blue’
When Husker Du dropped a double-LP concept album in the summer of 1984, the punk community was utterly confused. Concepts? Double LPs? Isn’t this the stuff punk rock was against? In an interview with Forced Exposure magazine, Misfits vocalist Glenn Danzig reacted to the album by asking, “What the hell is this? Crosby, Stills & Nash?” Those who could keep an open mind found the record to be an absolutely stunning statement — one that would take the band out of the confining punk ghetto. ‘Pink Turns to Blue,’ No. 9 on our list of the Best Husker Du Songs, is one of the most melancholy tracks — a morose yet sonically sharp tale of finding a loved one dead of an overdose.
‘Do You Remember’
When the band’s debut full-length was re-issued on CD back in ’93, this was one of the bonus tracks tacked onto the end. ‘Do You Remember’ is a basement recording from early in their career and is the most obvious Ramones bite in their repertoire. It’s also a kick-ass tune.
‘Everything Falls Apart’
‘Everything Falls Apart’ is the title track from what would be considered Husker Du’s first ‘full length’ release. (Hey, 19 minutes of music constitutes a full length release, OK?) The recording of this album followed the band’s initial meeting with renowned punk producer Spot, who they would work with up until they flew the indie coop and signed with Warner Bros. This track is a perfect head-bopper — at least up until the chorus, when Mould’s guitar sound corrodes and shimmers with amazing glory.
‘Celebrated Summer,’ next on our list of the Best Husker Du Songs, is the obvious jewel of the ‘New Day Rising’ album. It’s a perfect reflection on youth, and the track’s acoustic dips mirror the ups and downs of growing up.
Released in the Fall of 1983, the eight-song ‘Metal Circus’ 12-inch EP is considered by many to be the platter where the Huskers finally came into their own. Gone were the goony 30-second hardcore songs, and in their place came crisp, hook-laden tracks whose power no one could deny. ‘Real World’ opens the album, and lyrically, it plays like a retort to the more politically motivated punk bands of the time. Musically, it’s simply blistering.
‘Hate Paper Doll’
This track from the band’s final album for the revolutionary indie label SST Records plays like a covert homage to the British Invasion sound of the ’60s. Since Mould talked in interviews around this time about his love for the Dave Clark Five, it makes sense.
‘In A Free Land’
This title track from the band’s second 7-inch EP was a sure indication of where they would be heading in the coming years. Here, they stumble upon their signature sound, combining the earnest squall of the nascent American hardcore scene with their own songwriting style. It was released, appropriately enough, on New Alliance Records, the vanity label of another group of unique ’80s-era American punk pioneers, the Minutemen.
‘Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely’
The “breakout’ track from the Huskers’ major-label debut was everything it should have been: a driving, hooky-as-hell, heartfelt tune. It’s the ultimate kiss-off song for a relationship gone sour.
‘It’s Not Funny Anymore’
Topping our list of the 10 Best Husker Du Songs, ‘It’s Not Funny Anymore’ is punk’s ultimate zen statement and a two-minute summation of the band’s musical philosophy.