In a way, Grant Hart is to Hüsker Dü what Gene Clark is to the Byrds. Clark wrote many of the Byrds’ best original tunes (“I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better,” “She Don’t Care About Time”), but was unjustly overshadowed by granny-glasses-wearing guitarist Roger McGuinn - to the point where McGuinn got most of the credit for the band’s monumental “Eight Miles High,” a Clark song for which McGuinn simply provided the finishing touches.
Hart wrote some of the hookiest and most affecting songs ever recorded by Hüsker Dü (a band which, by the way, famously released a cover of “Eight Miles High”), but always took a backseat to eminently quotable guitarist Bob Mould. But what the masses don’t know, the aficionados understand. They’ll remind you that even though Mould maintained tight control over the band’s creative vision, Hart’s sporadic contributions consistently stood out.
The band’s 1984 breakout double-album, Zen Arcade, derived much of its expansive spirit from Hart, with his acoustic “Never Talking to You Again,” anthemic “Turn on the News,” and eternally haunting “Pink Turns to Blue,” probably the single most perfect distillation of the group’s power. Hart didn’t shy away from dark themes, but he conveyed emotional vulnerability, warmth, and a youthful naiveté, which contrasted nicely with Mould’s brittle, dogmatic persona.
In the 20 years since Hüsker Dü’s bitter breakup, Hart has battled heroin addiction and contended with a false HIV-positive diagnosis. He worked for a decade with the band Nova Mob and has spent the last several years concentrating on his solo career, reaching a small but uncommonly devoted cult that refuses to forget what a major contribution he’s made. With Snowbyrd, Grand Champeen, and the
Service Industry, 9pm Sat, Feb 16, Limelight, 2718 N. St. Mary’s, (210) 735-7775
- Gilbert Garcia