Farewell to Grant Hart, a Singing Drummer

In the week that I discovered another singing drummer, I lost one.

There’s a functional fixedness in the collective mind about drummers.  They’re supposed to be the meatheads that keep the beat.  They aren’t meant to be cerebral, or sweet.  You see a drummer singing and you think, “well you shouldn’t really be doing that, should you? Yeuch.”

I came across an effusive review of Mastodon’s Emperor of Sand recently, and decided to give it a spin on Monday.  I’d always associated them with the toilet bowl approach to vocal delivery – which I abhor –  and was stunned to hear a powerful three pronged approach from three very good singers!  The second track “Show Yourself” is insanely catchy  with Josh Homme-esque vocals from drummer, Brann Dailor.

Grant Hart, who died of cancer yesterday, was one of the originals.  He didn’t use a naff headset like Phil Collins.  He spat the vocals of his melodic but very edgy songs into the microphone while maintaining a nuclear beat for Husker Du band mates, Greg Norton and Bob Mould to follow.

Think about the following songs: I’m Never talking to You  Again, Pink Turns to Blue, Turn on the News, The Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill, If I told You, Books About UFO’s, Every Everything, Green Eyes, I Don’t Want To Know if You’re Lonely…Yes the list goes on.  They are all incredibly catchy and excellent songs, and the Husker Du cannon would be diminished without them.  I’ve lost count of the number of people over the years who’ve said to me that their favourite song by Husker Du was written by Grant Hart.

His solo career wasn’t as prolific as Mould’s was but he could be proud of what he did release, and “Good News for Modern Man” (1999) was as a good a solo record as either of them produced.

I’ve fond memories of seeing him play Whelan’s in 2012, and had a pretty interesting conversation with him afterwards in the smoking area.  During the gig he asked for requests from the audience, and the guy in front of me shouted for A Letter From Anne Marie.  He played a stripped down version on acoustic guitar.  It was wonderful, and it’s a nice memory to have of him.

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