Okay okay....so I know it may seem a little too mainstream and a little too outwith the ~Streetlamp~'s agenda but, yes, this really is a Blog about Kate Bush!
Now I should point out that I am no authority whatsoever in Ms Bush, in fact within the confines of the ~Streetlamp~ I'm not the number one Bushman...that mantle falls to Ray who is much more knowledgeable about her music than I ever will be. But there are reasons for me composing this Blog, as we shall find out later.
Now I'm sure I don't have to do some lengthy introduction about who Kate Bush is and what trajectory her career has taken. I'm fairly convinced that most, if not all, of our dear readers have some inkling as to who she is.
Kate has managed that rarest of things; a lengthy, provocative and sumptuous career within music, completely on her own terms. No unnecessary cash-in albums, no record company imposed deadlines, no need for any live touring, no trash TV appearances, and complete artistic control. All of this and she still maintains a huge and devoted fanbase.
Complete freedom means she can release whatever she chooses, no matter how unconventional; from alarming screech-athons like 'Sat In Your Lap', 'Babooshka' and the perennial 'Wuthering Heights', through gorgeous immersions like 'The Man With The Child In His Eyes', 'Cloudbusting' and 'King Of The Mountain', and on into complete hat-stand wibblery like 'There Goes A Tenner', 'Hammer Horror', 'Them Heavy People' and 'The Dreaming'. That someone can be so diverse and yet retain such a vast loyal following is testament to her art and uncompromising approach.
So why am I writing about her?
Well it all stems from one fateful night and the morning that followed, and how Kate's third album became an aural tattoo upon my soul....an unwashable stain on the memory of the end of it all.....
It happened without warning! A casual remark that didn't sink in at first....it just hit me like a stray bullet and I felt the sting grow larger until all I could feel was the gaping chest wound. I hadn't been prepared, I thought everything was going well, but this slight remark hadn't just sowed seeds of doubt, it rang every alarm bell that it was coming to an end. It would soon be all over. Finished! Really? REALLY??
As we sat in the silence of the taxi heading back to HER house I was already playing a symphony of heartbreak over and over in my head. The finality! Would this really be the last time I would spend a Saturday night in the Barrelhouse? Would this be the last time I'd view the panorama of neon as we headed back to Denny from Falkirk in the back of a taxi? What if SHE never kissed me again? What if I'd already tasted that last kiss? Would I ever sit amongst HER friends again? Would SHE ever visit my house again? The cold air and the colder silence told me....NO!
When we got back to her house we went straight to her room. She got into bed and I lay down on the floor (my choice!). I doubt that I slept, or maybe I managed an hour or so, but I hoped I would wake up and find it was all a bad dream.
When I did wake up it was a cold but sunny October Sunday morning. As we both lay there, in bed and on the floor, there was an uneasy feeling floating around. Neither of us mentioning what had happened, both of us giggling and smiling. What was going on, I wondered? The events of last night were like the elephant in the room, neither of us even hinting at what had happened. SHE got up out of the bed and went to make some tea. Before doing so, she put on her record player and picked out an LP that seemed to be housed in some horrible early 70s Prog-Rock sleeve. The record was 'Never For Ever'. I didn't even know she was a Kate Bush fan....turns out she was a massive fan!
As she went to make the tea, I lay there on the cold floor as the music began filling the room like incense smoke. 'Never For Ever' was one of Kate's more uncompromising and 'out there' records that baffled all those who bought into her 'Pop Star' early career. The music was almost too quirky, too noxious and overbearing for my delicate condition that morning. Had SHE chosen the record as a message, or was it something that SHE felt she needed to hear that morning?
As 'Army Dreamers' played out its haunting harpsichord melody, the poignancy of young men dying before there time stung my eyes as the intoxicating, overwhelming sense of grief and loss bubbled within me; "What could he do?// Could have been a father// But he never even made it to his twenties" went the lyrics, and in my moment of hurting changed it in my head to the rather cloying "What could he do?// Could have been her husband// But he never even made it through the Winter". The breakdown was on it's way, the first postcard had arrived!
Each twinkling note of music stung like whipcrack....how long was this music going to go on....why had she put it on?
As she reappeared with the tea and some toast, I was starting to pull myself together, but the album, like some sadistic Greek chorus kept on going. 'The Infant Kiss' crept into the air like a demonic asphyx, the toast becoming ashes in my mouth as the realisation that I could already be spending my last ever moments with her, in her room....the music accentuating the pounding headache that was either a result of last night's alcohol or my ravaged tear ducts.
As she disappeared with the cups and plates 'Dreaming' was working it's cruel magic over me....suffocating, wrapping me in a shroud of heartbroken vapour...."Breathing my mother in// My Beloved in// Breathing her nicotine...out in out in".
It was all becoming too much. I couldn't breathe any more. I had to get away, even though I knew 'getting away' would have a finality all of it's own. I dressed quickly, hoping for a quick exit, but the 'Goodbye' became messy, overwrought, over-emotional and distressingly painful....and the bloody record was STILL playing.
Sitting in a taxi in the daytime is a weird experience when you've always made that same journey at night. But as I headed home and away from HER, and the taxi driver was just a little too cheery, I felt the weight of the music, at once light as air but also as heavy and bruising a punch to the jaw, hang around me like her perfume.
It would be years, decades even, before I could ever dare to listen to 'Never For Ever' again, and while I've grown to be a huge admirer of all Kate's music, my image of her as the High Priestess Of Hearbreak is one I find hard to shake off.
And maybe never will......
Never For Ever
(please note this is not my link, I have no control over it)