Favorite Kate Bush Tracks

I asked Tony to contribute to the 2012 wrap-up and he kindly sent me this wonderful list below

I don’t know why (after 15 years of listening to Tori Amos, Bjork, Joanna Newsom, etcetera etcetera) it took me until this year to fall in love with Kate Bush. Previous attempts to get through The Sensual World failed (perhaps because it was via cassette tape from my mother’s best friend).

Then when my Californian friend showed me the video for Wuthering Heights on youtube, it was to make fun of the music video’s over-the-top theatrics. (Or, so I think. It’s hard to tell sometimes with the chronically hip when they’re actually enjoying something.)

And last year I thought I’d try her album Director’s Cut so I put on while rolling on the carpet with my then-girlfriend, but she said, “Who the fuck can make out to James Joyce?” when she heard the first song with its lyrics taken from Molly Bloom’s monologue in Joyce’s Ulysses.

But this year was the year she broke through for me. Here are five of the tracks that taught me how to love Kate Bush.

1. Houdini from The Dreaming

The first Kate Bush song that caught my attention. With at least three characters, it’s a pop one-act play about Harry Houdini escaping from chains underwater.. There’s an amazing melody line in here that would have scored Erasure a huge hit--it’s immediately absorbing, a melody most people would kill to write once in their life. But she abandons it quickly--barging in on it with a grotesque growling, the forces of evil. Daring. With this move I found I could no longer ignore her. There’s also a nice trick taken from silent films where a bass line mimics Houdini’s voice from underwater.

2. Deeper Understanding from The Sensual World

This song struck me as hopefully cheesy in the early 1990s, when I was still young and the internet was not yet piped in through everything in the home. But now it’s the reality of my life.

“As the people here grow colder I turn to my computer and spend my evenings with it like a friend.”

Ahead of it’s time.

3. Jig of Life from Hounds of Love

Another that seemed cheesy at first. It’s a jig, complete with an Irish bouzouki and uilleann pipes. . . but three minutes into the track, the music silences and Bush interrupts with a whisper, “I put this moment here.” And then her brother, novelist John Carder Bush, breaks in with narration. Again with the theatrics--this time reminiscent of Labyrinth or The Never Ending Story.

4. Pi from Aerial

This is the one where people riding in my car will ask me, “Is she singing the digits of pi?”


5. Coffee Homeground from Lionheart

Kate Bush is fantastically dressed as a lion on the cover of this album. The whole thing is a romp through childhood memories and fairy tales (the lyrics to the song Oh England My Lionheart are handwritten in a child-like scrawl and the references to Peter Pan abound). Coffee Homeground features more vocal gymnastics as Bush plays a housewife dodging all of her spouse’s gentle domestic poisons: “You won’t get me with your Belladonna in the coffee.” (The plumbers, however, (spoiler alert) succumbed.)

Tony is from Iowa. He maintains Monkfish Jowls.

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