I never listened to Hüsker Dü, but probably should have. They were in vogue with college kids when I was in my twenties. One of their songs, an oddly popular, if pitch-black one, named “Diane” would be remade by singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Nicholas John Talbot, aka Gravenhurst. The lyrics begin by telling the story of a man asking a girl if she wants a ride. “Hey little girl, do you need a ride? Well, I’ve got room in my wagon, why don’t you hop inside? We could cruise down Robert Street all night long. But I think I’ll just rape you, and kill you instead.”
While Hüsker Dü’s version is more punkishly aggressive and reflective of an unapologetically crazed killer, Gravenhurst’s remake is a near 360°. A sparsely methodical, soft-spoken rendition that is more likely attributable to an unfortunately intelligent, cold-blooded psychopath. A snapshot of the soulless-ly exploitive. Die-ann. [Lyrics]
“It’s the kind of thing that once drove men into the desert night.
I see no deserts here”
Comparatively, the lyrics of “I turn my face to the forest floor” appear to lament rather than document our intrinsic nature of violence. Where it once drove us outward and onward, now it is difficult, near impossible to avoid. Referentially, ‘East-End’ is London’s ‘Dark Heart‘, and the ‘rogue’ a pointed allusion to human nature’s natural proclivity to admire those capable of violence, though society deems it be denied, or at least that it remains buried in darkness.
“And the East-End rogue you so admire
is a murdering fuckhead.
The influence is clear”
Bristol, England’s Gravenhurst is described as dark and atmospheric, veering between the noisy shoegazing sound of guitar bands such as My Bloody Valentine, the harmony-laden singer-songwriter territory of Simon and Garfunkel, and the intricate fingerpicking guitar styles of Bert Jansch and Nick Drake. A constant in his sound is his fragile emotive voice and vocal harmonies, intricate guitar work, and unsettling and mysterious lyrical themes. He died aged only 37 on December 2nd, 2014, manner undisclosed.
Talbot delved deeper than most songwriters: he said that he sought to find romance in the grimier side of life, and his work journeyed into the dark heart of the human condition to create music of humbling beauty. However, onstage he could be hilarious. An outward misanthropy concealed a warm and engaging character with a huge intellect, prone to expounding on anything from Jack the Ripper to his unlikely obsession with the heavy metal band Iron Maiden.~ The Guardian, “Gravenhurst Obituary“
Thomas Hicks’ video is a brilliant depiction of our sadly inherent inclination toward depravity. Witness the violence being fed into the machine, fed onto the screen, fed into an open-armed audience, insidiously encouraging its furtherance thereof.
“You’re only a stone’s throw, from all the violence
you buried years ago”