Forget Barrack Obama, Grant Hart taught me the true meaning of Hope. Duncan and I were playing in the Maykings in the middle of a tour with Hart and preparing to leave Nelson B.C. when our punk rock hero demanded a driving shift. He’d been spending a lot of time talking about his passion for Studebakers, so we figured he’d probably putter along like the responsible Middle Ager he resembled in his cardigan. I mean, how much mayhem can an Eisenhower era family sedan inspire? Apparently the Studebaker has the soul of a rocket sled fuelled by curdled demon blood.
Hart blasted us off into dense long-weekend traffic, bumper to bumper rvs and pick-ups towing speed boats winding along a tight mountain highway. Everyone in his path was a mortal enemy who needed to be banished to the rearview mirror. At every opportunity he swerved into oncoming motorhomes to barrel ahead of whomever he’d been tail-gating then wedge back into a car-length gap that often only existed because surrounding motorists were braking in horror at the suicidal spectacle. Every time he risked our lives with this gut churning maneuver he’d triumphantly shake his fist out the window at the vanquished, now a full second behind us and probably spewing curses at the fist-waving maniac ahead.
When we stopped in Hope (see what I did there) to let the smoking brakes cool drummer Marek, who’d been bouncing around the backseat and was now whiter than any of the Caucasians in the band, sternly said, “He is not driving anymore.”
In addition to trying to kill me and my friends one day on a B.C. highway (and that was just one of the many tense episodes on our little trek), Grant Hart also made some of the most important music to me over the last thirty-years – moving, passionate, kick-ass rock and roll – not just with the Huskers but right up to his last couple of records, the songs on which stand up to anything else he created. The guy was greatness (as long as you hid the car keys), and his untimely passing is a sad loss.