Inspired by the very good documentary I found on YouTube I decided to check out the rest of Kate Bush’s discography, previously being thoroughly familiar with only her two most acclaimed albums, “The Dreaming” (a collection of ten fantastic songs on big variety of topics) and “Hounds of Love”, the first half of which is five hit songs ranging from good to amazing, and the second is “The Ninth Wave”, a true masterpiece concept suite consisting of seven songs and telling a gut wrenching story about a woman washed over and left alone in the night, and her sheer determination to survive, just her, the sea and her thoughts (oh, shit, I have JUST learned that “The Ninth Wave” is also a painting!)
So now I’m familiar with the entirety of This Woman’s Work (a gratuitous Kate Bush song reference here) and I can’t think of another artist I know who achieved a comparable level of flawlessness – there isn’t a SINGLE SONG on ANY OF HER TEN ALBUMS that I wouldn’t like. Not even a single song that would not resonate with me. She is just amazing in how she can make every piece compelling.
4. Kate Bush, “Oh To Be In Love” (1978)
So I decided to pick one song from her every album I got to know last year. The pick from her 1978 debut is “Oh To Be In Love”, which starts like a sweet song by a teenage girl but is elevated by the male vocal in the chorus singing the song’s title.
5. Kate Bush, “Kashka from Baghdad” (1978)
Of all her albums I think I love her follow-up, “Lionheart”, the least, which is far from saying it’s not a good album – it’s still fantastic, it just has fewer of songs that make my heart melt instantly (which, in Kate Bush’s case, is still more than half of the album). But it still has “Hammer Horror”, which is a goody for a film fan like me, and then there is “Kashka” with it’s amazing piano and delicate lyrics, reminding me of a quiet gothic bar that Indiana Jones could visit in one of his travels through the Middle East.
6. Kate Bush, “The Wedding List” (1980)
I think the most prevalent ear worm of her whole body of work, judging from the number of times I woke up with this song stuck in my head. While last year, after being disappointed by Tom Ford’s “Nocturnal Animals” I cemented my opinion that I just don’t like revenge movies, a revenge SONG seems to be an entirely different matter. This song was indeed inspired by a Francois Truffaut revenge movie, “The Bride Wore Black” and is wonderfully angry (and rightfully so, just check the lyrics). I think what makes is truly stand out is the change in tone between a solemn bridge to an emotional chorus that happens more than once.
This might be my favorite Kate Bush song outside of the two albums I knew previously, but the whole “Never For Ever” album is truly fantastic, with the singles “Army Dreamers” (have you seen the video for that?), “Breathing” and even the ever-present “Babooshka” which my daughter loves. But there’s also “Egypt”, “The Infant Kiss” and “Delius”, a funny little song that I should hate but can’t stop loving.
7. Kate Bush, “The Fog” (1989)
It was hard to pick a song from “The Sensual World”, the follow-up to her best album, because it’s full of amazing songs. There’s the eponymous, James Joyse’s “Ullyses”-inspired song, there’s “Deeper Understanding” about the Internet addiction years before the Internet, there are “Love and Anger” and “Rocket’s Tail”, heavy pieces with David Gilmour’s guitar… But finally I chose “The Fog”, a quiet piece with Nigel Kennedy on violin and amazing lyrics about a father recognizing his daughter (“Put your feet down, child… because you’re all grown up now.”, spoken by Kate’s actual father), which just hits very close to my heart right now.
8. Kate Bush, “Flower of the Mountain” (2012)
I’m cheating here: I didn’t pick the eponymous song from “The Sensual World”, but here I did pick the 2012 remake of it, from a remaster/re-recording album “The Director’s Cut”.
The whole album is interesting to hear Kate singing some of her older songs anew, in her more mature voice and as a more mature woman.
9. Kate Bush, “King of the Mountain” (2005)
Kate Bush is amazing in that while I wish she’d put out more than just the 10 albums she did, with huge gaps between her last few, I can’t be angry at her, because I know – and it’s evident in the music itself – that she just found happiness somewhere else and didn’t feel obligated to make music if she didn’t want to.
Her happiness came in part from her being a mother, and some songs from her latest albums are about that, including this love letter to her son (which it actually is not, because it was written three years prior to Albert’s birth, but it sounds like one).
(to be continued…)