Kate Bush - Words and Music
Kate Bush had a bit of a moment this year - or another one, if you like - with the reissue of Running Up That Hill, which was popularized once more by its use in the TV show Stranger Things. I have a long history with Kate Bush. Her initial burst of stardom, with the release of Wuthering Heights (we won’t go into the year it was released) coincided with my arrival into teenage years. Kate Bush and Blondie emerged almost simultaneously in my field of view, and I still recall buying Army Dreamers (KB) and Call Me (Blondie) on 45 rpm single on the same day.
Indeed, I bought all of Kate Bush’s albums on vinyl as they came out, up to and including The Sensual World (1989). She released music much more slowly from that point on, but I dutifully purchased each of them on CD. There’s a pattern to how I listen to Kate Bush. I won’t touch any of her albums for a few years, but then periodically I’ll do a deep dive, listening to almost all of it (and little else) over the course of a few weeks.
She is, famously, something of an enigma. She does minimal PR to promote her work and had toured only once (1978-79), before shockingly announcing a new series of twenty-two live shows in 2014, concerts that were ecstatically received. She avoids public scrutiny, preferring to allow her work to speak for itself. A year or two ago I picked-up Graeme Thomson’s Under the Ivy: The Life and Music of Kate Bush, and this spring I finally got around to reading it.
It’s a perfectly serviceable music biography, one that seems to reveal that Kate Bush is actually hiding in plain sight. There have been many theories about her ‘reclusiveness,’ many of them outlandish. But more than anything, it seems like she lives a fairly normal family life when she’s not creating remarkable and wholly unique music. Thomson’s book is knowledgeable and balanced when it comes to evaluating her creative output, and only goes astray when he occasionally lapses into fanboy gushing about her feminine allure and desirability.
Perhaps the moral here is that it really is all about the music. For a week or more recently, Aerial (2005) was my constant soundtrack – most specifically, the second half, A Sky of Honey, a concept piece which takes as its subject twenty-four hours in nature, a single summer’s day. It’s an incredible piece of music, like absolutely nothing else. Aerial a costly (double) piece of vinyl, but one I probably need to add to the collection before my next deep dive, several years hence.