One of my earliest musical memories is of seeing Kate Bush's video of 'Wuthering Heights'
on 'Top of the Pops'
. Despite my father making the obligatory "Dad jokes" about withering tights, I was utterly spellbound by this strange, beautiful, otherworlldy creature doing cartwheels in her long, white gown and singing what Neil Gaiman referred to in a recent documentary as "banshee music".
I've grown up with Kate's music. While I haven't been a consistent, avid listener, it has slipped into the forefront of my awareness at many of the pivotal moments of my life. One of the first albums I bought with hard-saved pocket money was her 'Lionheart'
. I was at art college years later when I heard that, after years of silence, she had a new album out. That album was 'The Sensual World'
, and I clearly remember my delight when I found it on the shelf at the local independent record shop. Often, the people I have been closest to throughout my life have been Kate Bush admirers too; it's like a secret club.
In the same recent documentary, Neil Gaiman recalls his amazement at this musician who wasn't afraid of books, or of writers, embracing literature and celebrating it in her music. As well as being inspired by Emily Bronte's novel, Kate has made many nods to literature in her work, not least of which is Molly Bloom's soliloquy from James Joyce's 'Ulysses'
, which appears to great and powerful effecting in the single of 'The Sensual World'.
It was actually Kate's song, 'Wuthering Heights'
that inspired me to read the novel (at far too young an age!)
Just as writing inspired Kate, in many ways, Kate's music fueled and fed the writer in me. So many of her songs tell a story. I adore the forbidden beauty of 'Kashka from Baghdad'
who "lives in sin with another man." 'Oh England, My Lionheart'
still brings a lump to my throat as she tells of a World War II pilot who shot down and as he falls to his death, he thinks of all the things he loves about England ("you read me Shakespeare on the rolling turf.")
There has been something magical in the way Kate's music has woven in and out of my life, forever carrying with it the memories and emotions of other times I heard the songs. Only with 'The Sensual World'
and 'The Red Shoes'
have I rushed out to buy the albums the minute they were released. The other albums have come into my life and possession at other times, for other reasons. But always, it seems, at the perfect time. There has only been one blip: when 'Aerial'
was bought for me, it wasn't at the right time. I barely listened to it before consigning it to the shelf. It wasn't until some years later when I met readthisandweep
here on LJ, and she wrote about how she listens to the second disc of the double album as part of her morning routine that I dug it out, listened again, and fell in love.'50 Words for Snow'
was released in 2011, yet I have only just felt the desire to order it. Again, this is a pivotal time in my life, and again, Kate's music is a part of it.
Tomorrow night, Kate Bush will perform the first of a series of dates at London's Hammersmith Apollo.She hasn't performed for more than three decades. The tickets for the shows sold out in less than fifteen minutes of going on sale.
Who knew Kate Bush is loved so much?!
While I'm not one of those lucky people who will be there to see her, I shall be there in spirit.
To celebrate this series of shows, the BBC hosted two programmes about Kate Bush on Friday night: the aforementioned documentary of her career, and a complication of all her appearance at the BBC over the years. They were on quite late, so I set up to record them, planning to watch at another time. I flicked over before I went to bed to check they were recording okay, and ended up staying up to watch, spellbound all over again.