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Music

Revisit the bizarre moment Robert Palmer covered Hüsker Dü

@TylerGolsen

When it comes to artists liking other artists, some of history’s strangest mutual appreciation societies have cropped up in music. There is Run-DMC’s Darryl McDaniels loving Sarah McLachlan so much that it saved him from suicide. There’s Madonna’s insistence on covering Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ no matter how terrible the results were. Even Carrie Underwood listening to modern metal gods I Prevail while working out is slightly curious, if not weirdly endearing.

But if one bizarre alignment of the stars had to be the most bizarre of them all, surely it would be Robert Palmer’s admiration for Hüsker Dü. Yes, the 1980s British blue-eyed soul singer who cracked the charts with ‘Addicted to Love’ and ‘Simply Irresistible’ had a strong affinity for St. Paul, Minnesota’s most aggressive and melodic alternative rock pioneers. This pairing would be almost too wacky to even joke about if there weren’t audio proof of Palmer’s devotion.

That comes in the form of Palmer’s cover of the title track to Hüsker Dü’s third album, 1985’s New Day Rising. If you thought that maybe Palmer slowed down the breakneck punk tempo or added some of his signature style to the song, get ready to be surprised. Other than a few keyboards added to the mix, Palmer plays the song completely straight, including getting some of his background singers to scream Grant Hart’s backing vocals and letting his guitar players get as distorted as they want.

Palmer adds some additional words to the track, and I can’t tell if those lyrics are from other songs or made up by Palmer himself. In any case, Palmer was so fond of ‘New Day Rising’ that he would often slot it as one of his encores. I can’t imagine what the room must have been like as the suave MTV music video stud launched full bore into an uncompromising hardcore punk track.

Hüsker Dü bass player Greg Norton was positively bemused at the cover, as he revealed in the biographical podcast series Dü You Remember? “Somebody was like ‘Hey, did you know that Robert Palmer used to do a cover of ‘New Day Rising’?’ Robert Palmer. Yeah, that guy. ‘Addicted to Love’ guy. He loved ‘New Day Rising’ and played it as an encore. So that was pretty surprising.”

Check out Robert Palmer’s bonkers live cover of ‘New Day Rising’ down below and see if anything makes sense when you’re done.