24 January 2014

“One does not simply walk into Kate Bush’s discography"

After eleven years of loving Kate Bush, I’m still not the most informed of her ardent fans. The critical consensus seems to have placed Hounds of Love as her magnum opus. As a new fan – and then devoted listener – this album felt like the best way to get my Kate fix. It’s a wonderful album and it feels as if I’ve been rooted in that land for my entire life. Still, this album represents only one remarkable achievement in her career. Her discography is studded with gems across the output of nine full-length albums. With a work as formidable as Hounds of Love, how could anyone venture elsewhere? Kate Bush does not speak with one voice so in many ways her varied techniques of singing and rich cast of characters is the perfect vehicle for showing her talents and winning new listeners. Short of Bob Dylan, Tori Amos, or even Jandek – three prolific songwriters who come to mind randomly – who else has offered so many ways to see one person’s musical world? Not too many, but then again is Kate Bush even of this world? On the evidence of the passion, weirdness, and humanity of her music, I’d like to think that she is. Like all of Bowie’s infamous stage incarnations, there’s something immediately compelling about the sight of Kate Bush. For many, it’s the music video for “Wuthering Heights” while for others it’s the eccentric fashion sense of her early career. (Personally, the cover of The Dreaming is my favorite but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that her dancing and miming in “Wuthering Heights” remains the most potent.) Whatever the cause of so much fascination with the woman, this voice that seems to come from nowhere is still the most powerful. An acquired taste like Chinese opera or Joanna Newsom, it’s not a voice that immediately sounds like one destined for pop hit infamy. (Madonna’s first two albums were released between The Dreaming and Hounds of Love.) Despite what we consider fashionable or unconventional, it’s her voice and its wonderful manipulations that constitute much of her legend. Call her mother, witch, lover, friend, or “something that you’ll never comprehend” – all those roles are whatever you want to see in her, but it’s always on her terms. Who can’t love someone who is herself as much as others within herself in similar ways to how we love so many others different to us? Sometimes I can only wonder so here’s ten songs that bring me closer to her world. 

"Hounds of Love"
"Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)"  
"Oh to Be in Love"  
"James and the Cold Gun"
"L'Amour Looks Something Like You"

"The Big Sky"
"And Dreams of Sheep"
"And So Is Love"

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