It’s a song written by a late Minnesota rock legend that’s named after the address of one of Minnesota’s most legendary rock studios, and it reflected the end of one of Minnesota’s most legendary rock bands. Now it’s been re-recorded by another legendary studio by a Minnesota music-legend-in-the-making.
Duluth folk/blues maestro Charlie Parr pays tribute to Grant Hart with a raw and tender version of “2541” on his new album for Red House Records, “Charlie Parr,” which he’s celebrating with two releases shows Thursday and Friday night at the Cedar Cultural Center (both already sold out).
The song in question is well-known to fans of Hart, who played it at most gigs, including his last one at the Hook & Ladder just two months before his death from cancer in 2017. He first issued an acoustic version as the title track of his first EP after the break-up of Hüsker Dü in 1988, then he cut an electric version for his first solo LP on SST Records in 1989, “Intolerance.”
Although the song is really about the end of a romantic relationship, the address in it is taken from the famed recording studio space at 2541 Nicollet Avenue in south Minneapolis, which is now Creation Audio but originally housed Kay Bank Studio (see: The Trashmen’s “Surfin’ Bird”) and then Twin/Tone Records. Hüsker Dü kept adjoining office space there in the mid-’80s.
Parr explained how and why he came to record the song in an interview with the Popmatters music blog:
"When I moved to Minneapolis in the '80s, Hüsker Dü was my favorite rock band, and I got to see them quite a bit. When they broke up, and Grant's '2541' EP came out, it was the soundtrack to an entire year for me. It's an amazingly understated song. As much as I loved it, I never played it.
My friend Mikkel [Bekkman], who plays percussion with me, also loves that song. I was sound-checking with the chords a few years ago, and he said, "Oh! We should play that!" I loved playing it so much that we decided to record it. After Grant's passing, it seemed appropriate to do that as a way of saying thanks for his having brought joy to a lot of people, including myself."
Parr’s version certainly adds to the joy. Along with a rousing version of Spider John Koerner’s “Running Jumping Standing Still,” it’s one of two cover songs featured on Charlie’s new album -- actually his 15th record but first with an eponymous title.
Parr recorded "Parr" at the reborn Pachyderm Studio in Cannon Falls, working mostly with his regular live backers Beckman and bassist Liz Draper. He also re-cut two live staples from prior solo/acoustic records, “Jubilee” and “Cheap Wine,” alongside seven new originals for the record.