Tag Archives: Prince

Grant Hart (1961-2017)

The mid80s were my time. I’m stuck there. I was in art school. I was young. And I found the music that became so very important to me. There was The Who, of course. They pretty much opened my eyes to what I considered more important music than what Top 40 radio had to offer.

The mid80s were also the Twin Cities’ (sure, mostly Minneapolis) time when it came to that important music. There were so many great local bands then. And there was the greatest concert venue First Avenue & the 7th Street Entry. First Avenue was the stage for those great local acts as well as national and international artists producing that important music.

3574812918_996a569d07_bHusker Du (from St. Paul) was one head of the three-headed Minneapolis Sound monster. The other two were The Replacements and Prince. I was a mild fan of Prince, a big fan of The Replacements, but Husker Du was my favorite. I used to say I liked The ‘Mats’ albums (slightly) better than Husker Du’s, but I liked Husker Du more when seeing them play live. Their shows were consistently more intense and fun. Husker Du still feels more like my band than The Replacements. I like them both, but somehow I always felt more connected to the Huskers.

Sometime in 1985, they played an in-store show at the record store just a couple blocks away from where I lived. I went to that store every week. One weekend, I walked in just as they were finishing putting away their equipment. Marty, one of the fellows working at the store, said, “Oh, Jim! You just missed it! You should have gotten here earlier.”

Up to that point, I had only heard of Husker Du. I didn’t know any of their music, but I didn’t want to look uncool, so I feigned disappointment.

It was about a week later when a friend bought Zen Arcade. We listened to it and loved it. That’s when I felt the disappointment.

Grant Hart, co-lead singer, co-songwriter, and drummer of Husker Du, died earlier today at age 56.

Hart was the one local musician I would see regularly hanging out at First Avenue. I remember the first time I spotted him there.  He was wearing a gold lame shirt and was in the area back by the pool tables, playing pinball. I nudged my friend and pointed out that a local musical giant was in our presence. I think my friend told me to settle down and be cool.

I spoke to Grant Hart only once. It was just before their final LP, Warehouse: Songs And Stories, was to be released. Word was that the album was going to be two disks. I was drying my hands in the restroom, when Hart walked by. I stopped him and said, “I hear the new record is going to be a double album.”

“That’s what they tell me,” was his answer and he walked on.

I’m sorry I don’t have anything more exciting to say of my experience with Grant Hart. I wasn’t an insider of the scene.

I was just a fan.

Packing Peanuts!

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I feel older today…

WHEN_DOVES_CRY_by_PURPLECITYDIGITAL

I’m not going to pretend I was a massive Prince fan. I liked most of his 80s output, but I don’t own all of his albums. I don’t have loads of his songs on my iTunes. In fact, there’s just one song of his in there: Money Don’t Matter 2 Night. Of course, I’m listening to it now. I really don’t know much of his material post Lovesexy (1988). But, with his death, confirmed a short time ago, I’m remembering the ways Prince affected my life.

I remember that road trip with my friend John. The night when we ended up in Flagstaff, Arizona. We sat in a local bar, enjoying some fine, cheap tap beer, when John put the aforementioned Prince tune on the jukebox. He said he thought it was one of Prince’s best songs. I agree.

I remember my art school pal Eric. He was a massive Prince fan. He dressed like Prince. Did his hair like Prince. He did drawings and paintings of eyes like the ones in the When Doves Cry poster. He even made a little clown puppet like the one in the movie Purple Rain (1984). I’ve long since lost touch with Eric, but I’m thinking of him today.

I remember snickering at the rubes in the St. Paul nightclubs (the cool kids hung out at the Minneapolis clubs) attempting to dance to Erotic City.

I remember not snickering while watching strippers dance to the same song.

I remember my friends John and Dave attempting to figure out what those lines were in the song Kiss. Prince would shriek, “Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with.” John and Dave would sing, “Ain’t no particular sign I’m mo compact taboh weem.”

I remember hearing the album Around the World in a Day for the first time at one of the many art school parties I attended. I remember liking it.

I remember the time I was in charge of putting the music together for the official Halloween party at art school my second year. I painstakingly compiled students’ song requests into a massive reel-to-reel mix tape. I had a rule: One song per artist and I stuck to that rule; much to the disappointment of the crowd dancing to I Would Die 4 U when it didn’t continue onto Baby I’m a Star. I can still hear the groans.

I remember thinking, “This isn’t going to end soon,” when Prince’s protege band The Family played a full concert at the legendary Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue & the 7th Street Entry on a Tuesday night. A Club Degenerate night! It was said Prince was there that night, but I didn’t see him.

I remember fellow art school student Duane always seemingly in the loop whenever Prince would play an impromptu show at First Avenue. I also remember Duane never letting me know about it until the next day.

I remember one group of us doing impressions of the cooing baby at the end of the song Delirious. And a different group of us doing impressions of Prince throwing up. “Owoowaaaaaaalllhhh!” We had a weird sense of humor.

I remember seeing Prince on the Midnight Special. He was introduced by members of Dr. Hook. One of them said that Prince played every instrument on his songs. I don’t remember what song he played.

I remember scoffing at the people showing up at First Avenue to audition to be extras in Purple Rain. I remember thinking they looked like such poseurs. I hadn’t even been to First Avenue yet and I was already a snob.

And I remember the first time I ever saw or heard of Prince. It was a music video show. I was watching it with my high school buddy, Greg. Greg and I sat dumbfounded as we watched this Prince guy performing…I forget which song it was…in the outfit he wears on the cover of Dirty Mind: A trench coat, black bikini briefs, thigh-high stockings, boots, and nothing else. It was an eye-opener to say the least.

I’m sure there are plenty of moments I’ve forgotten. These are the memories that occur to me now. I may not have been the biggest fan. I may only have one of his songs on my iTunes. But I respected Prince as an artist.

With him gone, far too soon, a little part of that connection to my youth has been severed. And I’m feeling older today.

Correction notice: I had the song order of I Would Die 4 U and Baby I’m A Star wrong. I have made that correction (4/25/16).

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