Wednesday, 7 December 2011
The first time I heard Kate Bush on the radio, I was 10 years old. Playing rounders in a friend's garden on an idyllic sunny day, a transistor in a tree blasting out The Mike Reid show.. I remember being hit in the head with a ball, my focus and concentration halted to the twinkling opening of Wuthering Heights. The beginning of my love affair.
The following years impacted my adoration of Kate, our tiny country house almost constantly enveloped in the scratchy vinyl sounds of her weird and wonderful songs. Several copies of the LPs were purchased, mostly through overplay, but once because my brother took a golf club to Never For Ever. Not a fan. I was weird to like Kate. To my brother, to everyone in our small community.
It's fair to say I was obsessive. Long before the internet, trawling record shops and collectors mags for rare, unheard, unseen, foreign copies of singles. The Chrsitmasses of my teens were dominated by Kate.
The Dreaming had the most profound impact on my life. At 14 I was starting my GCEs, because of Kate I was learning the piano, and I had chosen music. One lesson, my tutor, Keith Harris (no relation to Orville) constructed our entire music room of wooden instruments. He told us he was going to play a song that we would then try and replicate. He played "The Dreaming". I screamed a little. It felt like a validation, that I wasn't alone in my love, and whilst the rest of my class pissed about, hitting each other with glockenspiel bars and logs, I had the best hour of my life thus far.
Everything about The Dreaming is stunning. Kate herself was only 24 when it was released. The diversity of sound and subject matter and the sheer artfulness of the project catapults Kate out of the realm of her peers. I would (and can still) stare at the cover for hours. It is beautiful. Not only is it one of the most gorgeous pictures of Kate, but the entire construction is breathtaking. Amazing combinations of textures of the ivy, chain, and Kates dogtooth jacket. And that glimpse of colour on her cautious eyes, and that delicious little secret key. Intoxicating.
Matched by the music - Tender and sad, and mad and wild. Tales of bank robbers, kangeroos, illusionists, Vietnam and at the end Kate turns into a donkey. Such diverse subject matter that only Kate can make cohesive and continues to do so now. That is the beauty of Kate. She is accessible, but never run of the mill. Every song, every word on The Dreaming is infused with warm emotion and passion, she means it all, however strange it may seem to us the listener.
It seems we're going to have more Kate, perhaps more in the second chapter of her career than we ever imagined. I welcome it. Very few artists remain that are worthy of investment in a digital age, it is easy to consume and pass over, dismiss on first listen. Kate never fails to reward.