“I can’t cry, I can’t apply a word to sum it up /
Under stress I can’t repress the moment it erupts /
Hear the sound of paper drums and shredded paper voice /
Got to turn up ‘Keep Hanging On’ as if I had a choice”
Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart died on Wednesday, September 13, at his home in St. Paul. The Minnesota native was 56 years old. His wife, Brigid McGough, told NPR that his death was caused by complications from liver cancer and hepatitis.
Hart left behind a staggering body of work as one of the songwriters for Midwestern alt-rock icons. It’s a legacy that he doesn’t get enough credit for.
Hüsker Dü formed in 1979 after meeting at St. Paul’s Cheapo Records, where Hart worked as a clerk. Originally a quartet with keyboardist Charlie Pine, eventually guitarist and singer Bob Mould, drummer and singer Hart, and bassist Greg Norton became the three-headed, guitar static-breathing dragon that would make a profound impression on the ’80s underground.
Though Hart had played keyboards before forming Hüsker Dü, he ended up as the drummer by default. He was the only one with a kit. It was a role that Hart wasn’t thrilled with, especially on their more hardcore-influenced early albums. “I didn’t enjoy playing hardcore,” Hart said about his time pounding the skins. “It was just such a damn boring job.”
Hart was contributing songs to the band’s repertoire from the beginning. Two of the strongest songs on the band’s first EP, 1983’s Metal Circus, are Hart compositions: the macabre, post-punky “Diane” (the story of a murder victim, told from her killer’s point of view) and the propulsive power pop of “It’s Not Funny Anymore.”
Mould and Hart traded off on…
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