25. eight miles high

“Because what else could ever follow Turn On The News on a playlist but perhaps the greatest cover tune of all time? Husker Du‘s annihilating take on the Byrds‘ seminal 1966 psyche out capturing that pivotal mid-80s moment when the hardcore monster caught a glimpse of itself in the psychedelic mirror, and it paused, saw both tragedy and beauty, and amplified at that. Which is to say, truth. But a truth that’s beyond words, and even music eventually, a truth that can only be conveyed via amplified sonic weaponry and an all too human howling that must leave the words behind lest they be swallowed by whatever hell hounds have been unearthed by all the compounded, concentrated evils of the world. There were a lot of those as the 80s hit their midpoint. But we weren’t too concerned. We had a killer soundtrack.” (Philip Random)

26. turn on the news

Turn On The News arrived in my life as one of those ‘you must hear this’ items. 1984 sometime, the dark middle point of Ronald Reagan’s reign. It’s a radio night, Bostock shouting everyone else down, elbowing his way to the turntable, demanding we pay attention to the first track on Side Four of Husker Du’s Zen Arcade, punk rock’s first truly epic album. Which, of course, meant Zen Arcade wasn’t really punk rock. It was too big, too beyond, and no question, Turn On The News was its most essential four and a half minutes.  A song of pain, a song of despair, and yet hope as well, because it’s a song of consciousness, of not turning away from the noise and pain of the world. And it forced a turn of phrase, in my life anyway. Some friend’s boring you to death with his girlfriend issues, or the details of the mortgage on his new condo. You finally just shake your head and say, ‘Turn on the news, man. There’s people out there with real f***ing problems’.” (Philip Random)  

178. celebrated summer

“The sorta punk thrash psychedelic power pop blast of Husker Du’s Celebrated Summer was exactly what my Universe needed in the mid-80s. One night in particular comes to mind. And it wasn’t even Husker Du playing, but an all all-girl band from California (wish I remembered their name) at the Arts Club on Seymour (best live venue this town ever had). 1986 I’m pretty sure, and summertime, which meant Expo was squatting in the near distance sucking all the light and love from things. And I’d just seen Skinny Puppy up at UBC, which was a terrorizing experience, because man, the acid was particularly FUN that night. So yeah, it all came around to the song not so much saving my soul (my soul was fairly intact in those days) as reigniting it with hope, fervour, blinding white light, which is to say, celebrated and wild, erupting with summer. And as soon as we got back to the car, New Day Rising got jammed into the cassette player. Once more unto eternity.” (Philip Random)

HuskerDu-1985-posing

313. pink turns to blue

This is Husker Du as they broke through, defining that zeitgeist moment when punk finally embraced the psychedelic, became eternal. But Pink Turns To Blue is also Husker Du hinting at their inevitable demise. Or more to the point, Grant Hart, the drummer, the guy who wrote and sang it. A song about heroin and what happens when that person you love is changing colour on you, turning the wrong shade of blue. F***ing junkies. They ruin everything.

HuskerDu-1984-JunkYard

476. Dad

“Vancouver’s fabled York Theatre, 1985. Husker Du are in town, the hot ticket of the season. The joint’s packed and wild, like some hack Hollywood screenwriter’s fever dream of a punk rock show gone horribly wrong (in a good way). I’m pretty sure this is the night that somebody actually dove off the balcony. Or maybe that’s just how the drugs remember it. I was definitely quite high, ripped on some of the best LSD of the decade. Anyway, the evening ends up being like high school sex. It peaks way early with warm up act NoMeansNo more or less destroying the headliners. Dad is the encore, the first time I’ve ever heard it. I remember it moving me to tears. The sheer horror of it, and empathy, I guess. I remember thinking, punk rock isn’t supposed to do this. I remember throwing myself off the balcony. Well, maybe not that part.” (Philip Random)

NoMeansNo-dad

962. what’s going on?

Husker Du‘s 1984 double album Zen Arcade was one of those documents that changes everything forever. Here was a punk-hardcore-whatever that was simply, enormously MORE. Here was a band that was going to do whatever the f*** it wanted as long as the sound was sharp enough to cause bleeding at fifty yards. What’s Going On Inside My Head was my mantra for a while – less a question than a howl of purposeful confusionism. Don’t bow to the chaos of the age. Eat it. Let it nourish you.” (Philip Random)