Music today is in celebration of Kate Bush’s 62nd birthday. As something of a Kate Bush mega-fan and with her being so well-known at least here in England, it’s difficult to do much more than fawn. So tonight I’m just going to play Kate Bush albums till sleepy time starting with her debut album The Kick Inside (1978) which of course I have in different versions with different covers from different countries. Haha. The UK version reached No. 3 in the charts after the debut single, Wuthering Heights, made it to the No. 1. spot. She wrote the second single, The Man With The Child In His Eyes when she was 13 (it reached No. 6 in the charts). She’d recorded demos for the album at 17 with some help from Dave Gilmour, the demo version of The Man With The Child In His Eyes is the version they used on the album. She was just 19 when The Kick Inside was released. As quintessentially English as she is and as young as she was when Wuthering Heights was in the top spot and with her immense talent as a musician, singer, dancer, performer, songwriter, producer, it’s not surprising that she has become so loved for her myriad skills and for her unwavering Englishness. Like The Jam and XTC but surprisingly not Morrissey, this has affected her popularity in the American marketplace and it was a long time that anybody noticed her on any kind of commercial level. Odd really because I think of her as England’s Joni Mitchell from a different era and as we know Joni is quintessentially Canadian, I guess that makes more sense in America.
Her mad debut single and wild genius videos were perhaps too eccentric for America in 1978. Also, the whole literary subject matter, although the book was written by Emily Brontë in 1847, in 1939 it was a mega American movie starring Merle Oberon as Cathy and Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff (apparently they hated each other). An interesting side story is that when Vivien Leigh heard that Olivier got the role of Heathcliff, she wanted to play Cathy, but the film studio didn’t think she was well-known enough in America. She was offered the role of Isabella Linton instead which she turned down and that role was taken by Geraldine Fitzgerald. Instead in the same year, she was cast as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind for which she won an Academy Award – Merle Oberon was not nominated for Wuthering Heights.
Her second album Lionheart (1979) made it to No. 6 in the UK chart and had the hit Wow, a really beautiful uplifting song that was inspired by her trying to write a “spacey” Pink Floyd song. I guess that’s why I always liked it because I like most anything spacey and most anything Pink Floyd. It reached No. 14 on the UK chart doing better than the previous single Hammer Horror that only made it to No. 44. As her first album had failed in America Lionheart wasn’t released till 1984 as The Dreaming made some kind of an impact.
Her third album Never for Ever (1980) was the last of a trio of what the public had begun to expect from her. With Never for Ever Kate Bush was the first woman solo artist to have a self-penned No. 1 album (how is that possible?) and the first woman solo artist to debut at No. 1. The first single was Breathing with backing vocals by Roy Harper, it reached No. 16 in the UK. Next came Babooshka, No. 5 in the UK, No. 2 in Australia. Bush had suffered in the US with not being able to show her visual side (the video for Babooshka was really something). Although she’d tried hard to sell herself as a talented singer-songwriter America had tried to push her as a sexy woman and oh by the way she sings and writes songs. In the Babooshka video, she certainly came across as all things although due to the visual formats in America at the time she still didn’t break through. Army Dreamers made it to No. 16 in the UK in 1980, a tragic story of a young man killed in a war before he even had a chance to live a life. Her choices of subjects for her songs were profound despite some elements trying to write her off as a mad girl with a squeaky voice.
Although the festive non-album single December Will Be Magic Again was released in 1980, she was planning something spectacular and in 1981 by firmly taking hold of the production reins she released the first single from her next album The Dreaming, Sat In Your Lap was a totally brilliant sonic reinvention, it reached No. 11 on the UK chart and was accompanied by a striking video (weren’t they all). Coincidentally the B-side was Donovan’s Lord Of The Reedy River. Oddly the single was released over a year before the album which came out at the end of 1982. Bush later stated, “That was my ‘She’s gone mad’ album”. It still managed to make No. 3 in the UK chart. The next single, the title track, was too weird for the public, it featured Rolf Harris playing didgeridoo and dealt with the oppression of the Aborigines by the white man. Next came an example of how she could jump from one lyrical concept to another with There Goes A Tenner. An amateur gang takes on a big robbery and loses their nerve in the act. It was all just too odd for the public as Bush sang in a ‘mockney accent’. In different countries, she released different singles but despite the album being groundbreaking, innovative, experimental as well as catchy, melodic, deep with thought-provoking themes it was her worst-selling album. It’s full of great songs, Pull Out The Pin has her screaming “I Love Life” as she reflects on the Vietnam war with the sound of a helicopter in the background. I could write a thousand pages just up to this point about Kate Bush but I have to eat and sleep and this might be the time to remind you that what happened next – It was Hounds Of Love…
Song Of The Day is Kate Bush – The Man With The Child In His Eyes from the debut album The Kick Inside released in 1978. Happy Birthday, Kate.
The musical musings in this post are an excerpt from my daily blog, TO WHERE I AM NOW, featured on my main website. See more pictures and read the full post here.