Hüsker Dü

Pink Turns to Blue

Composed by Grant Hart

Song Review by

Grant Hart has said that Hüsker Dü's 1984 double-album Zen Arcade was not a concept record, per se, but it seems his colleague and the lead songwriter of the band, Bob Mould, had an overarching theme to his songs. So the two songwriters kept song choice for the collection focused on these recurring issues. Much of this landmark record deals with urban and suburban alienation, decay, disillusionment, and familial dysfunction. The powerful minor-key pop-punk song "Pink Turns Blue to Blue" is a personal glimpse at a the tragedy of drug addiction. All but two of the record's songs were recorded in one take, true to the "Zen" nature of its title. Recorded and mixed in something like 80-plus hours, Zen Arcade was punk rock's White Album: a collection deep with quality writing, catchy melodies, experimental instrumentation, and impassioned performances by a band reaching their peak. Introducing piano parts, ballads, harmonies, and other pop sensibilities to the era's overly regimented hardcore-punk genre. "Pink Turns Blue to Blue" is testament to Hüsker Dü's scope; clearly Hart was a pop songwriter who appreciated the ethic and the energy of punk rock, but not its rules. "Pink Turns Blue to Blue"'s buzz saw guitar riff and three-chord chorus sounds like a meeting between the Stooges and the Beatles, or a more serious, soulful Buzzcocks. Though the melody is almost lullaby-like in its sweetness, it is offset by the guitar assault and the lyrics, wherein the narrator implicates himself in the overdose death of a girlfriend who "(celebrated) every day the way she thought it should be." Hart nevertheless gives the lyric a romantic edge: "No more rope and too much dope she's lying on the bed/Angels pacing, gently placing roses 'round her head." This marriage of poetic angst, bittersweet melodies, and aggressive performances influenced most post-punk/alternative bands like Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr., and the Smashing Pumpkins well into the 1990s and beyond.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Zen Arcade 1984 SST
Gimme Indie Rock, Vol. 1 2000
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:43
blue highlight denotes editor's pick