I don’t even know what I’m crying for

I first became aware of Husker Du during the summer of 1984 when I heard John Peel playing their single cover version of “Eight miles high”. I was well aware of the original, having been introduced to it by the Radio 1 “25 years of rock” documentary series from a few years before, and it was on one of my father’s “History of Rock” albums too. The original had drive and propulsion and a strangely weightless feel, but this cover was something different. It took the song at almost double the original speed, there were distorted punky guitars smeared across the song and whoever was singing was hollering at the edge of their voice, in the first verse they’re trying to sing the words with the occasional roar, by the second verse they’re on the edge of coherence, by the third verse it’s one long howl of rage, no words discernable at all. It was a thrilling ride, a stunning three minutes and I secretly loved it. I say “secretly” because it was so completely against the kind of music that I was enjoying which was mainly forward looking and mostly electronic. Husker Du was more like what my brother would have listened to – he had numerous punk albums but this didn’t sound like anything he’d play. I wasn’t used to this speed of playing, or the level of distortion. At the time I knew nothing about American hardcore punk, the whole scene around the SST label. But what I did recognise in the cover version was that it was actually quite respectful to the original – Husker Du weren’t demolishing a holy text as so many punk covers of sixties classic did, they were remaking it in their own image, adding their own velocity to the original, making it a vehicle for their own feelings, where coherence stops and the pure pleasure and release of an inchoate yowl – a primal scream – can express.

I kept an eye on Husker Du from there, followed their name in the music papers, heard the occasional song on Peel but never actually bought any of their records at the time. Later on I would find out that they played their first UK gig outside London in Newport , and I could have gone to it had I known about it. I felt sad when I read that they had split up but they hadn’t had the success that a move to a major label should have given them. There were other underlying issues and tensions within the band which caused the split and as I write this there’s probably someone somewhere asking Bob Mould why they split up.

When I did finally get around to buying some Husker Du records I was amazed by them. I bought “New Day Rising” and “Flip your wig” together for a pitiful two pounds each in late ’89 and they were my constant companions over the Christmas of that year. “New Day Rising” has a remarkably consistent first side – classic after classic effortlessly dispatched by the band, songs like “I apologise”, “If I told you”, “The girl who lives on Heaven Hill”. By this point I knew there were two singer / songwriters in the band – Bob Mould and Grant Hart – and I started to recognise their different voices and attitudes. Towards the end of side one comes the first sign of a melancholy edge – always a good thing in my book. “Celebrated Summer” starts with a frantic distorted riff, and Mould yelling about the joys of summer – “And getting out of school meant getting out of hand” – before the distorted guitars fade away to be replaced with a twelve string acoustic, and now Mould’s vocal is more considered – “The sun disintegrates behind a wall of clouds, I summer where I winter at and no-one is allowed there”. The band charge back in and Mould’s screaming again but the hint of darkness is still there at the end, where the acoustic returns – “Do you remember when the first snowfall fell? Was that your celebrated summer?” – delicious ambiguity there. “Perfect example” follows and while the guitar plays a repetitive riff of notes (a little like “Poptunes” in fact), Mould mumbles somewhere in the vicinity of the microphone – what he’s saying isn’t clear but there’s unhappiness and hurt there. And there’s no bass guitar at all. Side two starts well and the first couple of songs are terrific – Hart’s “Books about UFOs” could be a hit single, “Terms of psychic warfare” is great, “Powerline” rocks powerfully and then it all gets a bit daft, like they ran out of ideas so “How to skin a cat” drags, “Whatcha drinkin'” is one idea expanded over two minutes and “Plans I make” should be a powerful closer but isn’t.

“Flip your wig” on the other hand is more streamlined again, ripping through classic after classic as fast as possible – side one again kicks off with the self-knowing title track about their ‘fame and success’ and is a rare song where Mould and Hart sing alternate verses. “Makes no sense at all” would have been a huge hit single in a parallel universe, except it wasn’t like the real hit singles from Autumn 85. There’s a tuneful bubblegum edge to songs like “Hate paper doll” and “Every everything”. At the end of side one “Games” is Mould at his best – one wonders whether the lyrics are self-referential or not, indeed listening now and knowing about the band it’s possible he could have been writing about Hart. The protaganist starts the song proud of his achievements and the games he plays with other people, then the middle eight says “Just when you think that all your answers are so right, you’ll fade away and disappear from sight, the ones who said you’re great will find another way” and by the final verse the game player is forced to admit he’s got his life wrong, but still has to play his games. Powerful stuff, for me anyway. Side two starts with the odd jungle fantasy “Find me” then the thankfully brief “Baby song” before hitting top form with “Private plane” and “Flexible flyer” before Hart’s terrific “Keep hanging on”. Sky-kissing guitars attack, while Hart blurts out odd but heartfelt words of love – “Only angels have wings and poets have all the words, the earth belongs to the two of us and the sky belongs to the birds” before the chorus where he repeats “You gotta keep hanging on” as if the listener is going to drop into an abyss. The second verse has one of my favourite moments – a scene of domestic bliss before an earthquake, it appears – “The apartment starts shaking and the roof opens up to the sun, the crows flying in parallel lines and” then an unwritable gurgle of noise from Hart’s mouth which the lyric sheet translates as “Golly, isn’t this fun?”. Again he implores you to “Keep hanging on” getting more frantic and hoarse with each exhortation, while backing vocals chant the same words quite calmly. The final verse is more domestication – “Lying in each other’s arms, we’re sleepy we begin to nod, then we start to dream of grandiose things” followed by desperate screams of “OH GOD! OH GOD! OH GOD!” As if these dreams are too horrific to think about. It’s one of the oddest love songs ever. “The wit and the wisdom” is a silly riff, before the closing instrumental of “Don’t know yet”. Regular readers will know of my initial high standards for psychedelia, set by hearing “Eight miles high”, “Tomorrow never knows” and “Itchycoo Park” from a relatively early age. I wanted more psych to be like those – backwards tapes, odd noises, dischords, rolling drum patterns. And in “Don’t know yet” I found it. It’s only a two minute instrumental but it’s immense, packed with backwards guitars, a loping drum beat, washes of cymbals, curious piano chords wandering in from somewhere – I loved it and still love it now.

In early 1990 I found a second hand vinyl copy of Husker Du’s final album from 1987, the double “Warehouse : Songs and Stories”. It was quite telling that it was already deleted by Warner Brothers less then three years after it’s release, and not long after buying the vinyl I trudged through the snow up Albany Road in Cardiff to a specialist CD importer to order a copy on CD. It was ridiculously hard to find a new copy of it then, while it’s still available in the limited racks of CDs in Newport HMV now (I checked last week). The sleeve was enigmatic – a brightly lit room with trees and roman columns in it, and inside the sleeve was one of the most touching sleevenotes I’d ever read. Totally quotable words, but also words that struck a chord with me then and now. Lines like “And everybody in the world has their own song in their heads.  The best songs ever.  Problem is figuring a way to get them out and present them to others” or “Revolution starts at home, preferably in the bathroom mirror” or “Not everybody is a victim of circumstance; conversely, nobody should feel like a martyr all the time.  Problem? It’s hard enough to communicate these days; some of us don’t even get the chance.  Some others don’t know they have a chance…”. At the end the notes drift off into a recollection of a snowdrift from the writer’s youth. It all fits beautifully with the concerns of the album itself.

But to understand how much this album means to me, I need to explain a little more about the circumstances of my life around that period. It’s easier to go back a few years to the start of 1987 – just as “Warehouse” was being issued. I was halfway through the second year of my A-Levels, studying at New College in Cardiff. I was doing well at Computer Studies, getting by at Physics but Maths was blowing my mind – it didn’t involve numbers at all, it was all vectors and differentiation and calculus and I didn’t understand it. It’s all a bit vague but at some point around this time I fell out with my Maths teacher in the college, I think I might have said I had no faith in his ability to get me through the exams and this caused a storm between me, my parents and the college, and there was a lot of meetings going on around me and stern words were spoken to me and I don’t really remember it that clearly. What I do remember is being in the headteacher’s office and him giving me a severe ear-wigging and feeling dizzy and drowsy and wanting to faint while sitting down, a most peculiar feeling…actually there was another feeling, another sensation…you know when you’re drunk and you close your eyes and you feel the world spin around you? Well it was that feeling. And I found I could induce myself to feel this “world spinning” feeling by staring hard at something, and I was staring hard at the headteacher and started spinning, and then all the other feelings came. So as a result of this kerfuffle around Maths, I gained some extra tuition from the wife of one of my father’s work colleagues, once or twice a week I’d go over and we’d work through problems and I actually started to get the hang of it. I think I babysat for them sometimes as well, I can remember watching a “Tomorrow’s World” special on music technology (with ZTT act Act, Thomas Leer and Claudia Brucken) at their house. All this extra help however had an effect on my other subjects – I was concentrating so hard on Maths I let the other subjects slip – so when I finally got my results in August 87, I’d scrapped through a pass in Maths – a grade E was considered a pass then – but the other subjects had dropped a few places from my expected results, so I didn’t have enough points to get to Liverpool University which was my first choice. I went through clearing and Liverpool offered me an alternate course – Maths and Computing – but I chose to go to Sheffield Poly instead which was the first choice on my PCAS form (UCCA and PCAS being two separate entities at this point). There is the eternal “What if…” question regarding how life would be different had I gone to Liverpool.

The first year in Sheffield was a breeze. I had a bunch of friends who were good with me, I did everything I had to and worked hard and did well. I enjoyed myself, went on day trips at weekends to Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds to visit record shops or record fairs, I went to some great gigs in Sheffield – The Wild Swans. Microdisney, Luxuria – and generally everything was fine. I was a bit of a nerd to be honest, working hard and doing well, but every Wednesday morning I’d be in the refectory with the NME. Melody Maker and Sounds, pouring over everything that was in there, absorbing it all, but not really taking that much notice of it (which is why when I read “Blissed out” in ’93 I spent the next year buying second hand records from ’88 that I had totally ignored at the time).

The second year in Sheffield though was the total opposite of the first year. I started at a disadvantage because I started without all the money I should have had. During the summer months students could still sign on, and my brother and I both filled our forms in exactly the same way and three weeks later our first dole cheques arrived – he had the full amount, backdated for three weeks and I had £5.83, which was also backdated for three weeks. Somehow I was only entitled for £2 a week, so during the summer I started eating into the next year’s money. When I got to Sheffield in September I was already spent about £700 of my yearly allowance. In Sheffield I was in a different student house with four final year lads who all had girlfriends who would often stay over – at weekends it was like a house of fornication. You know that line in “Darling effect” by Insides? “I hate lovers, I hate the way they go to the bathroom in shifts after they’ve fucked”. My room was next to the bathroom and I heard it all. But in fairness they were all lovely people in the house, and their girlfriends were probably the first members of the opposite sex who I actually spoke to without feeling scared or guilty or fancying them. And we had some chats.

During that first term three things happened. Firstly I had a terrible cold and ear infection which really did knock me sideways, I lost all balance and had to stay in bed for about two weeks while the anti-biotics did their work, and if I moved it felt like there was an explosion in my head. Secondly back at home my parents’ house was burgled and that totally freaked me out from such a long distance away, to know that ‘someone else’ had been in my house, in my bedroom (they’d left a footprint on my bed while judging whether to jump out of my window). Thirdly – at some point in early November I had an absolutely enormous crisis of confidence, like a total breakdown in my head. There was one entry of my diary where I basically wrote six pages of closely written lines saying “What am I doing here? Why am I here? What is the point of all this?”. I lost all confidence in my ability to function in college, in society, in the world. I could see no future, or the future I saw didn’t appeal to me. (Whoops, first tears have appeared. Grabs tissue). I hated my life, I hated what I was supposed to be, I didn’t want any of it. So I started to drop out of lectures, and started seeking some form of oblivion in alcohol. Looking back on it my friends must have been horrified – and there was one particular colleague who hated what was happened. Her name was Michelle, a classically blonde bombshell who had taken notice of my nerdy ways during the first year. In the second year there was an eight month group project which we all had to contribute to, and at the start I was placed in a group with three women – one of whom was Michelle. Everybody in my year thought she fancied me, and it’s possible she did but it wasn’t reciprocated. For the sake of having some resemblance of responsibility to others, I carried on with this project even as I dropped almost all other lectures, and there were many times the four of us would side at a table in the library and I’d contribute and do something good for the project and Michelle would look at me and say “See, you can do this, you’ll get there”. I would be out drinking in the evening and get back to my house to find a note on the door from one of my housemates – “Some blonde beauty called Michelle came to see you, she needs your mind (and possibly your body too)”. The joke at the time was I was being watched by Michelle’s satellite.

Of course when I went home at Christmas none of this got mentioned, but if my parents had heard the eight song mini-LP I recorded then they would have been horrified. “No happy endings” had been written during the previous few months and is harrowing listening. I went back to Sheffield for the second term with enough money for basic rations and hid as much as I could. There was one happy drunken night – 23rd January – when my drinking partner and I got so drunk we spent the first part of the night dancing to “Louder than bombs” on my walkman (with a headphone splitter) on the roof of a multi-storey car park, then decided to walk to Barnsley, got halfway there (I’m not kidding, I just checked on Google Maps) before the walkman batteries ran out so we turned round and walked back, ending up sleeping it all off at my house. But that was one good night amongst many bad ones. I sank further into depression and had long deep dark night of the soul chats to my housemates and their girlfriends, and even to Michelle. There seemed no way out, just a big black hole called life.

I returned to Penarth for Easter to find my course tutors had written to my parents about my attendance, or lack of it. They hit the roof understandably, not least because I’d not given any indication that there was a problem. Sticking my head in the sand – a trait I still have now, sadly. Happy Easter! My father drove to Sheffield to see my course tutors and some deal was made, I would transfer to restart my course at the Polytechnic Of Wales in Treforest, live with my parents and “we’ll keep an eye on you so it won’t happen again”. Never ever say something like that to me. That’s like a red rag to a bull – that’s a challenge to me to do it all over again, which is precisely what I did at the Poly of Wales. The basic problem of “what am I doing here? Why am I doing this?” hadn’t been addressed at any point, so I was still in limbo there, living back at home and not knowing why I was doing what I was doing.

I could say there were mitigating circumstances, that my then-undiagnosed Aspergers Syndrome made me take such an anti-authority direction, and that the AS also caused me to not talk about my problems before it was way too late to do anything about them. On the other hand it could be said I was a lazy drunken arse who didn’t take any responsibility for his own actions and never learnt from his mistakes as people kept bailing him out all the time. There’s two sides to every story, and my side is frequently less reliable than someone else’s. But hey. I never promised you a rose garden.

Anyway, back to 1990 and the Poly of Wales. I got depressed again, or the depression I had in Sheffield never truly resolved itself. So I spent time not going to lectures but spending entire days on POWCON, a conference service on the Poly’s VAX mainframe. If you follow this link, one of my friends from the Poly has a small site dedicated to POWCON and even saved an interactive story that I contributed to – and sort of took over at one point – back in the day (I’m RDMORGAN1). So it’s January 1990 and “Warehouse : Songs and Stories” falls into my life and the songs spoke to me like microscopes into my soul, and it hurt like hell.

Side one then. “These important years” races from the starting blocks and Mould is already jaded by life. “Well you get up in the morning and you see it’s still the same…” – then faced with the problems of communication – “We’re all exchanging pleasantries now matter how we feel, and no-one knows the difference ‘cos it all seems so unreal”. In the background Hart is singing lines ahead of time, anticipating the next line – like the backing vocals on “Help!” extrapolated further. While the guitars are as distorted as before there are also sparkling clean guitar lines too brightening the corners. And there is hope it – “Once you see the light you suddenly realise it might turn out alright”. Ah, we can hope indeed. “Charity chastity prudence and hope” is a morality tale from Hart about homelessness, I think. I must admit even now I don’t think Hart’s songs are as good as Mould’s on this album – with a few exceptions. It rolls along nicely. Mould’s backing vocals are conspicuous in their absence. “Standing in the rain” is Mould’s side of a story of being stood up on a date, clearly in winter – hence the rainfall sound effects and the line “The snow may thaw out”. Hart’s “Back from somewhere” could be the other side of the story, or even the same viewpoint – “Standing in the city centre in the middle of the winter, I was waiting for you and you were due”. On the other hand it’s a break-up song, and bittersweet memories of happier times. “Ice cold ice” is Mould’s side closer, a slow intro with rolling drums before the frantic riffing (and guitar sliding) comes in. Is this about inertia? People unable to move, standing still, stuck. Is this about Hart? I know, it’s easy to say “This is about…” But all the references to coldness, and “stay together till the end, thinking you might need a friend”. It’s possible. The closing lines are powerful – “My love for you will never die, if I sound distant that’s because you shouldn’t see me crying ice cold ice” – Mould sneers out these lines, doesn’t sound like he means a word of it. The last line repeats as the song fades to almost silence then reappears at full volume for one last long powerchord. (An odd choice for a single, that).

Side two. Hart’s “You’re a soldier” is a speedy criticism of a young man’s “khaki attitude” and desire to get into the army and shoot things and gather up stories. It still makes a point today. “Could you be the one?” was the first single from the album but I never heard it on the radio. It’s another ambiguous Mould song – a pop confection with fuzz guitars but lyrics that flirt around. I just realised I’ve got this song all wrong – he’s not writing it as a love song, he’s trying to get inside someone else’s head, to help them out but doesn’t know why – “And I don’t even know what I’m hiding for, and I don’t even know what I’m crying for”. Is it worth the effort? (As an aside, I covered this song at my first gig in Sept 91. Considering I misinterpreted the lyrics completely I wonder why I bother). Hart’s “Too much spice” and Mould’s “Friend you’ve got to fall” are two sides of the same coin. By this point Hart was heavily into heroin while Mould was clearing out his system from years of substance abuse, so one wonders if Hart’s was self-aware enough to write about himself, or if he’s writing about someone else, or not writing about anything in particular – but there’s sadness inside the venom in lines too. “Friend…” takes a version of the Yardbirds’ “Over under sideways down” riff and turns it into a buzzsaw anthem. Again at the risk of repeating myself Mould could be writing about Hart, but it’s also hard to hear this without thinking of the suicide (and the method of said suicide) of their manager David Savoy around this time. Or am I being ghoulish? Still, a striking lyric – “I can see your life disintegrating into ashes in your hand, but I know you wouldn’t want to tell me what is wrong ’cause you’re a man”. Sod it, I identified with that lyric at the time, so forget all the stuff about “Is this about Hart?”. These songs are more universal than that. “Visionary” is a slight mis-step, Mould doing the Du-by-numbers. It’s ok, but nothing special. What is special is “She floated away”, Hart’s side closer. A psychedelic jazz punk waltz? Sounds horrible on paper but wonderful in reality. A huge haze of reverb, a sea shanty-like melody and image-rich words while in the background vibes and recorder emerge through the wall of sound. Absolutely wonderful, and a last verse to die for. “Well a man has two reasons for all that he does, the first one is pride and the second one is love”. Too right, too bloody right.

Side three. “Bed of nails” from Mould is brutal and vicious, and sometimes hard to listen to. I can’t say it’s a favourite of mine, too … I want to say self-flagellating but that seems wrong. Mould’s not happy, and neither is the dissonant music, the wall of noise. Hart’s “Tell you why tomorrow” is more psychedelic, lots of backwards guitars and no answers to anything – I always considered the line “I burn my fingers on the pages of the sun” to be a reference to The Sun newspaper, but I’m willing to be proved wrong – though the last line “Find a newspaper and it is written there” could help my argument. The imagery is of a world turned upside-down, or maybe it’s the ridiculous world of the Sunday Sport – Elvis on the moon? “It’s not peculiar” is one of Mould’s masterpieces for me – I could quote the entire lyric. Shall I? No. “When it’s pouring out you’re pondering inside, and all the times you shouted everybody cried ‘You’ve got to learn to compromise, to live inside the others’ lives'”. It’s relationships gone sour, trying to find the answers. Hart’s backing vocals at the end of each verse are great – “Only you know what matters in your life”, “Some things we said will never wash away”, “Sometimes we wonder what our lives are for”. To me in 1990 still not having the answers to these questions I held onto these songs like driftwood in a storm. Hart’s rockabilly “Actual condition” is a welcome slice of light relief after that, even if the lyrics are full of self-doubt but there’s real joy in the music and performance. “No reservations” – this is more painful. “Never changes, the things I feel inside, sit by a lake and cry”. Mould pieces together fragments of emptiness and brings tears to my eyes – but there’s freedom and hope at the conclusion. “Come along with me. We’ll go to places that we have never seen. And if we’re together we’ll have a happy time. Cos I’ve got no reservations”. Comfort in company, as wordless harmonies stream around to close the side. I mean, maybe other people don’t hear these songs like I do, but these songs touch my heart.

Side four… Now this is where it gets interesting. Husker Du were interviewed in the July 87 edition of “Making Music” magazine, a free mag aimed at musicians and given away in musical instrument shops (and also edited by Jon Lewin, who recorded with his band Perfect Vision back in the mid 80s). It was fascinating to read this interview once I’d heard the album. A few snippets I remember from there – they started the interview with Hart and Mould chanting the lyrics to “Throbbing Gristle” by The Pork Dukes, they talk about how Greg Norton uses no pick on his bass to get a bigger sound, and they talk about the future – how “Warehouse” was in the order it was recorded, and the final side was the last songs they recorded and pointed to their future direction. Ironic considering they would split by the end of the year, but they pointed to the synth on “Turn it around” as a way forward. An intriguing thought.

Side four then. Mould’s “Turn it around” perhaps did court controversy by having a synthesiser acting as lead guitar, but the full-on oscillator sound works well within the song. It’s a spritely jog through a descending chord sequence but Mould is trying desperately to communicate again, trying to stop the rot before it gets too much – “There’s several morals, several plays…it’s enough to make you cry”. He’s still trying but at his wits’ end. And that’s the fourth reference to crying in Mould’s songs. Hart’s “She’s a woman” is ok, nothing special, fills time pleasantly enough. Then the one-two punch to close the album. Mould closes his account with “Up in the air”, his voice finally softens as the guitars turn quieter, it’s almost a folk song but still with power chords in the background. I’m sorry but I’m going to dump the whole lyric here.

“Pass away the hours, hear the footsteps of the past
Walking up the stairs of time, knowing that i’m trapped
Cold winds of indifference persuade a movement south
Thinking that it’s better there
The warmer climes that we seek out

Poor bird flies up in the air, never getting anywhere
And how much misery can one soul take?
Trying to fly away might have been your fist mistake
Poor bird flies up int he air
Never getting anywhere

Picking petals off a flower, loves me, loves me not
Is love another way to count the things you haven’t got?
We wish the best to all our friends, young and old alike
When the dust has settled in the sky, you can have anything you like”

That whole lyric…it resounded so closely to me. Trying to fly away was my first mistake. It just hit me like a ton of bricks, I didn’t think about “Oh is this about whatever”, I thought “Oh this is about ME”. And the melody was so beautiful, and the performance so lovely – Hart’s keening high backing vocals, the clean guitar tones, the quiet to loud, the sudden stop as the song falls into a sea of echo. Hart closes the album with “You can live at home”. The guitars are back on fuzz, the band are rocking with conviction. Norton’s bass is loud and almost funky, and Hart is screaming at the top of his voice. My God he sounds pissed off. Someone’s done him wrong and he’s telling them to get lost in no uncertain terms. “I can be fine, yeah I can be free, I can be beautiful without you torturing me…walk away…just walk away…” Then he screams “GO!” like never before, complete and utter conviction, like his vocal chords are about to shred. Mould thumps out a three powerchord riff, the drums get manic, and Mould and Hart start shouting “You can live at home now”, like it’s a total insult. Guitars solo onwards for another two minutes and the song slowly fades out, though frankly I could happily listen to it continuing for another ten minutes.

You can live at home now. Yeah, I could. How many nights did I walk home drunk with that refrain echoing through my brain, tears flowing down my face. What a failure I was, doing it all over again, flunking out for a second time. What happened next? Well I didn’t pass the second year in the Poly of Wales ‘cos I messed around, but I tried again, did all the work, sat all the exams, and still failed. So in the early summer of 1991 I gave up education as a bad mistake, and started working and had a great summer too. Which we’ll get to some other time. I bought more Husker Du records and while I admire “Zen arcade” for its scope and range and everything, for me it doesn’t have the power of their other double album. “Warehouse” used to be well regarded – an early 90s Rolling Stone Record Guide gave it five stars, but now it gives it three. Mould’s songs are the emotional meat in the sandwich, and it was a direction he’d continue to pursue – I should mention “Compositions for the young and old” from his solo debut “Workbook” which also packs a huge emotional punch, and was also tried during the last days of Husker Du. “Warehouse” though does point the way for other bands, you can see where Pixies and Nirvana both picked up ideas from, and of course I can’t pass by a chance to mention “Grant Hart”, a tribute from the Posies – “Nervous children making millions: you owe it all to them
Power trios with big-ass deals: you opened for it then”. Indeed! Could they have continued? I doubt it really, the tension tore them apart but the tension also created some wonderful music.

Next time – what do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?

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