Last year, our co-founder, André Archimbaud, wrote 5 pieces about his musical heroes. Given the time of year that it is & that things tend to go a bit quiet around now through much of January, we thought it a good time to re-share these pieces.
As they say, ladies first…I am also writing this as someone who had been a fan of Kate Bush’s for years, but hadn’t quite realized the import her music had had on me until 2-3 years ago across her entire career, which coincides with nearly my entire lifetime.
About a year or two ago, I was up late one Friday night watching a documentary about Kate that my friend had suggested I check out & it hit me after watching it:
“She really is one of my musical heroes.”
That she was discovered by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour only adds intrigue to her magical mystique.
When I was about 12 or 13, I discovered the song & the video for “Running Up That Hill.” It was groundbreaking & beautiful…and I was hooked. She infused dance into her deeply melodic music in such a unique way that still is fresh & new. Compared to anything else that was happening in the 1980s, Kate was an exceptional musician whose artistry oozed from her every pore.
I remember the summer of 1987, I was at a 2-week-long retreat in Washington D.C. I went to the Tower Records there & bought “The Whole Story,” which was a compilation of her songs to that point. They only sold that stateside in an effort to curry more interest in a musician artist whose artistry was largely lost on an American audience. The rest of the kids I was with on this retreat were from other parts of the US & had never heard of Kate Bush. You know that face a dog makes when it hears a high pitched noise? That’s the face I got for putting this tape on…but, I reveled in it. I enjoyed their discomfort to some degree. Sometimes you have to commit yourself to art to let it hit you…and Kate’s early work can be just that. As gorgeous as it is…
The next video I saw of hers was for a really emotional song called “Cloudbusting.” The song is about lost love, as I see it…but, the video is about the relationship between father & child, which could be lost love, too.
Then, as happens with many European artists, Kate fell off the radar here in the States. She does have a bit of a cult following here in the US, but nothing like the rabid fan base that exists in her native U.K. or her ancestral Ireland.
So, it wasn’t until the Spring of 1990 that I heard Kate again. My last year of high school, I lived with my friend’s family as my folks had moved away & I wanted to finish school with my friends. I was home from school on a Friday afternoon in April – only a few weeks from graduating – and I was walking through my friend’s living room. As I passed by the turned-on-television, this video came on. I still feel that it’s the most stunning music video I’ve ever seen all these years later. It’s a perfect & poignant song married to a video that’s simply gut-wrenching.
Years later, I came to find out my friend was the engineer on the “Sensual World” record. It’s a magical recording that still gives my ears loads of emotions & surprises every time I listen to it.
Kate put one more album out in the 1990s in ‘The Red Shoes’ and while I’ve always *liked* that record, I didn’t love it. I am led to believe that issues with her label (Sensual World & ‘The Red Shoes’ each came out on Columbia/Sony Music) led to a rift that kept Kate quiet for the next 12 years as well as several personal setbacks.
Then, in 2005, Kate released what I think is her magnum opus in ‘Aerial.’ It’s effectively a double album that has some of her most stirring & complete tunes. Melodically, lyrically, musically…it is perfection. Take a look at the two tremendous videos below. The first is a fan-made video which is simply stunning! It’s telling about how moving this album really is that someone would spend hours animating a video for a song like this.
The last few years have been interesting since ‘Aerial’ came out. In 2011, we saw two albums of Kate’s material appear. The first is called “Director’s Cut.” It’s a reworking of many of her songs from both Columbia/Sony albums as she’d have preferred to do them. They’re wonderful & unique & gripping.
Later in 2011, she issued ’50 Words For Snow.’ This is a unique concept album from her that features a spoken word piece from Stephen Fry, drumming by Steve Gadd on nearly all the tracks & Elton John partnering with Kate in this time travel duet that is at once romantic & heart-breaking.
In 2014, Kate announced that she would do a string of live shows – she’d not played live in 35 years…no kidding! Each night was sold out & each performance, I am told, was stellar. “It wasn’t just a concert…it was a spectacle!” said one friend of mine who attended.
In late 2016, they released a live album of the show. The 4 record set is one of my most cherished possessions. It’s amazing & warm & lively & lovely. This is a produced video akin to what one would’ve seen at the live shows.
I hope this provides a roadmap for you to go out & pick up some Kate Bush on your own. The influence & impact that she’s had on popular music the last 40 years cannot be overstated.