Upon my arrival in Madison, Wisconsin, in the summer of 1982, WORT expanded my horizons every weekday afternoon. There was something new and mind-blowing seemingly every day on the indie radio station at 89.9 FM.
Though my sweet spot was the emerging Americana music genre, I also was exposed to something harder-edged, something distant even from the trippy sounds I’d heard on free-form FM radio just a decade earlier.
The WORT DJs loved these new groups: the Replacements, Black Flag, the Meat Puppets, X, the Minutemen and then fIREHOSE, almost anything from the mighty SST and Twin Tone labels.
And, yeah, Hüsker Dü.
Writing this evening in the wake of Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart’s death, my friend Larry Grogan said:
“It’s entirely likely that if you are of a certain age or taste Hüsker Dü might have either been off your radar completely or not your cup of tea.”
I must plead guilty. I heard all those groups on WORT, but I am of a certain age. I’m just a little older than Grant Hart and just a little older than my many friends who dug Hüsker Dü and who keenly feel the loss of Hart today.
It just wasn’t my scene. But by all accounts, what a scene it was.
Again, my friend Larry:
“How exciting it was to do zines, and play in bands, and go to basement/loft shows of all kinds and discover that there was an entire underground world of people just like you that felt the same way about things, and creating/connecting in a pre-internet world where in-person and snail-mail were the order of the day. Grant Hart and Hüsker Dü were a big part of that world. … It was truly a different time, and unless you were there, you’ll never really know how amazing it all was.”
Turns out, a good half-dozen friends were part of that amazing scene. Norb’s band opened for Hüsker Dü at a venue that was more or less in my Madison neighborhood, then had a memorable encounter with Hart years later. Paul hung out with the band and also had a memorable encounter with Hart. Tom worked one of their last shows. Dave has good memories of Hart opening for Patti Smith with a most unexpected cover.
I respect their passion for Hart and for Hüsker Dü, one expressed so well by my friend Vince, another member of the Clan Grogan of New Jersey:
“No band hit me out of the gate or has stayed with me so potently as Hüsker Dü. They inspired me to play the way I do and were so beyond so many of their contemporaries. Their music is always close at hand. They were the perfect combination of smarts, emotion, hooks, and pure unadulterated fury.”
Reflect that passion. Go play some Hüsker Dü records.