Happy birthday Catherine “Kate” Bush, born today in 1958.
It’s fair to say that almost everyone loves Kate Bush. She is, after all, one of those rare artists whose work can joyfully unite almost everyone—including the most unlikely though similarly emotionally attuned disparate groupings of virginal schoolboys, Riot grrrls, Goths, Punks, Classicists, Folkies and the likes of John Lydon, who famously once described Ms. Bush’s work as “beauty beyond belief.” And that is a very fair description, for Kate Bush’s music is beauty beyond belief.
Here’s to a very special and brilliant woman—Happy Birthday Kate!
To celebrate this original and unique artist, here’s an unedited interview with Kate, recorded in November in 1985, not long after the release of her brilliant Hounds of Love album, for the series Night Flight. This is the unedited interview, which reveals how the media conduct their question and answer sessions, and how they manipulate and relentlessly seek the answers they want, rather than one given. It perhaps explains why Ms. Bush is so reclusive.
Yes, I adore her. Yes, I do. But sometimes, like in the very beginning of this video, Kate Bush reminds me of some of the women I’ve fallen in love with over the years that were beautiful, but batshit crazy. The kind of woman who fucks you, tears your heart out and then goes skipping down the lane into the dark forests of eternity.
Now I’m not saying Kate is crazy. Not at all. There are just a few moments in this video that conjure up my own personal memories of when romance walked that thin line between obsession and fear. The eyes, the mouth… the terror.
Shambush! theater troupe gathered 300 volunteers in Stanmer Park, Brighton, England, on Saturday to re-enact Kate Bush’s pop promo “Wuthering Heights.”
The event called “The Ultimate Kate Bush Experience,” was part of the Brighton Festival Fringe, where Shambush! aimed to set a new world record for the number of Kate Bush look-a-likes performing the hit song in one place.
Although I’ve always been a big Kate Bush fan, I can’t lie to you and tell you that I find her music videos and TV appearances (for the most part) anything other than totally laughable, at least the performances from the earlier part of her career. I mean, come on! Even her staunchest fans would have difficulty defending goofy clips like this one.
Noel Fielding from The Mighty Boosh obviously feels this way, too. Witness his spot-on “interpretive” parody of Bush’s “Wuthering Heights” on the BBC’s 2011 Let’s Dance for Comic Relief and compare it to the original.
One YouTube commenter wrote “I would go lesbian for Noel Fielding.” Another quipped “It really looks like this is something he does every Saturday regardless of comic relief.”
Well, practice makes perfect…
Update: Below, a comparison video. Thanks to Ana Phylaxis for the heads-up!
This is probably Kate Bush’s first TV interview from March 16th, 1978, when her debut single “Wuthering Heights” hit the top of the UK charts. Interviewed by Denis Tuohy, on the BBC’s Tonight show (fore-runner of Newsnight), who starts off by describing her song as ‘strange, lovely and fascinating’ before asking what was Kate’s attraction to Emily Brontë‘s novel Wuthering Heights, and the character Catherine Earnshaw?
In a sweet, child-like voice, teenager Kate explains it wasn’t so much the book rather the last 5 minutes of a TV series, based on the novel, which she saw as a child that had Cathy at a window wanting to get in. The image stuck, and Kate thought it ‘perfect material for a song.’
Kate started writing songs when she was around 11 or 12. She wrote in secret, and was unable to perform her songs in front of anyone, believing that if she did sing in front of others, then she had to give her best performance - which was something Kate felt she hadn’t quite mastered.
It was through a friend of her brother that tapes of her singing were passed onto executives in the recording industry, eventually reaching Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, who was wanting to help ‘struggling artists’. Gilmour put up the money to pay for a demo of selected songs, which secured Kate a record deal. She was 16-years-of-age.
Over the next 2 years, Kate took time to write new material and worked towards creating a stage persona. When asked by Tuohy what inspired her song-writing, Kate replied:
‘It is very often from other people. I mean people are just so full of poetry, they say it all the time. There are the most amazing phrases that people come up with that aren’t covered, and you can really draw from people’s minds.’
I’d never seen this rather splendid documentary on Kate Bush before. Made for German television in 1980, Kate Bush in Concert captures what was, and still is so irrepressible about the pioneering singer and performer, and explains the delightful (and naive) charm that caused so many young virginal fans to pine for her. Mixing live performance with an interview, in which we hear how Kate’s brothers’ taste in Prog Rock (Pink Fairies and Pink Floyd) and Folk Music that inspired her, and explaining the difference between her on-stage and off-stage persona.
‘When I perform, there’s just something that happens in me, it just takes over. It’s like suddenly feeling you’ve leapt into another structure, almost like another person, and you just do it. But when I’m not working, it’s me and I certainly wouldn’t dance around a table and sing.’
Och, well, there goes another wee fantasy of Ms Bush dancing and singing around a homely kitchen whilst baking fruit scones.
Like many Americans, my first exposure to Kate Bush was via her fourth album, 1982’s The Dreaming, for despite being a chart-topper the world over, and with a 1978 appearance on SNL under her belt, Bush had virtually zero profile in America before it. The Dreaming is also my favorite Kate Bush album, although it doesn’t have a single one of my favorite Kate Bush songs on it.
Even during a period of popular music that produced such off-kilter masterpieces as PiL’s The Flowers of Romance, Japan’s Tin Drum and Nunsexmonkrock by Nina Hagen, The Dreaming was still an album that was difficult—at first—to get your head around. It’s an album that requires three to five listens before it “clicks,” but when it does, the listener is rewarded with one of the most dazzling, ambitious and audacious things an artist has ever attempted, before or since. In this case, by an artist who was then just 23!
As a song cycle, The Dreaming is a complex and accomplished work, practically demanding to be listened to all the way through (if only out of respect for the genius who created it). Although I went backwards through her first three albums, in retrospect, The Dreaming—produced by Kate alone for the first time—is an abrupt (make that very abrupt) break with what had come before. Gone were the intimate observations on life, the intensely passionate musings on love. sexuality and England’s green and pleasant land—indeed all of the pretty songs that her fanbase obviously expected—to be replaced with poetic and cinematic narratives that evoked far off exotic lands, paranoia, fury, a quest for learning, a stymied oneness with God and comedy. The Dreaming is the work of a great talent operating totally free of any outside pressures or concerns. It would be ridiculous to call it the first “real” Kate Bush album, but there is certainly a clear line of demarcation between Never for Ever and everything that comes after it.
Obviously there was always something monumentally idiosyncratic about Kate Bush, but with The Dreaming, the eclectic nature of her mature vision became boldly manifest for the first time.
“Sat in Your Lap” is the album’s frantic opening number. One of the engineers Bush used on The Dreaming was Hugh Padgham, the man responsible for achieving the famous “gated drum” sound of Phil Collin’s “In the Air Tonight” number, and I would imagine he’s probably responsible for the fantastic drum sound on “Sat in Your Lap” (I could be wrong about this because Padgham brought in Nick Launay, PiL’s engineer for the heavily percussive The Flowers of Romance album, for The Dreaming and it might be he who recorded the drums here, I’m not sure) (Here’s a link to a demo of the song)
Happy birthday Kate Bush, who turns 54 today. Did you know that she’s the same age as Madonna, who also turns 54 in a couple of weeks? That’s a wee bit of a surprise to me, as both artists feel like they come from completely different eras. I suppose Kate had a head start though, having had her first worldwide smash hit at the tender age of 19.
To celebrate Kate Bush’s birthday, here is a rare, live recording from Sweden. The film was made in 1979, on December the 21st to be exact, as part of her Tour Of Life (her one and only full live tour.) While the footage on this upload suffers from some video warping, the sound is pretty decent, and at 22 minutes long, the five songs featured are:
“The Saxophone Song”
“James And The Cold Gun”
Curtain up on a starry night. Comets fire across the sky. Center stage, one star shines more brightly than the rest, its spotlight points towards a globe of the earth as it spins form a thread. Glitter falls, as a white screen rises, the lights glow brighter filling the stage.
Single spot tight on a woman’s face
We are unsure if she is in pain or ecstasy. No movement until, at last, she exhales, then pants quickly, rhythmically. Her face glistens. The spot widens, revealing 2 nurses, dressed in starched whites, symmetrically dabbing her face.
The woman is Mrs. Kemp, and she is about to give birth. 3 mid-wives are guided by house lights through the audience to her bedside. Each carries a different gift: towels, a basin of hot water, and swaddling.
It’s May 3rd 1938, and Lindsay Kemp is about to be born.
Though this maybe a fiction, it is all too believable, for nothing is unbelievable when it comes to Lindsay Kemp.
Lindsay Kemp has agreed to give a telephone interview. He is to be called at his home in Italy, by Paul Gallagher from Dangerous Minds, who is based in Scotland. We never hear the interviewer’s questions, only Kemp’s answers and see his facial expressions as he listens to questions.
Photographs of Kemp’s career appear on screens. We hear a recording of his voice.
I began dancing the same as everybody does, at birth. The only difference was, unlike many other people, I never stopped. In other words, you know, I love movement. Movement gave me such a great pleasure, such a great joy.
Dance is really my life. I’ve always said for me ‘Dance is Life, Dance is Living, Dance is Life and Life is Dance’. I’ve never really differentiated between the two of them. It’s always been a way of life, a kind of celebration of living.
Kemp is an exquisite dancer, a fantastic artist, and a brilliant visual poet. No hyperbole can truly capture the scale of his talents.
In the 1960s and 1970s, his dance group revolutionized theater with its productions of Jean Genet’s The Maids, Flowers and Oscar Wilde’s Salome.
He shocked critics by working with non-dancers. At the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh, he often cast his productions by picking-up good-looking, young men in Princes Street Gardens - good looks, an open mind and passion for life were more important than learned techniques, or a classical training. His most famous collaborator was the blind dancer, Jack Birkett, aka The Great Orlando – perhaps now best known for his role as Borgia Ginz in Derek Jarman’s Jubilee.
Kemp was the catalyst who inspired David Bowie towards cabaret and Ziggy Stardust. He taught him mime, and directed and performed in Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars and was his lover. He also taught Kate Bush, and choreographed her shows.
As an actor, he gave outrageous and scene-stealing performances in Jarman’s Sebastiane, Ken Russell’s Savage Messiah and Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man.
“I’ve never really differentiated between dance and mime and acting and singing. I’ve always loved all aspects of performing, though I still can’t play the trumpet, but I’d like too. Well, it’s never too late to learn.”
He has performed across the world, from department stores in Bradford, through the Edinburgh Festival, the streets and cafes of Italy, to London’s West End and Broadway.
Kemp is a poetic story-teller, and his performances engage and seduce as much as the words that spill from tell such incredible tales. His voice moves from Dame Edith Evans (“A handbag!”) to a lover sharing intimacies under the covers.
A house in Livorno. A desk with a telephone. A chaise longue. A deck chair and assorted items close at hand. Posters and photographs of Kemp in various productions are back-projected onto gauze screens.
Kemp makes his entrance via a trap door.
The phone rings once. Kemp looks at it.
Rings twice. Kemp considers it.
Rings three times. He answers it.
Lindsay Kemp is on the ‘phone.
Hello. (Pause.) Where are you in Scotland?
My grandparents are from Glasgow. I always pretend to be Scottish because I was born accidentally in Liverpool when my Mother was saying bye-bye to my Father, who was a sailor, and he was off to sea from Liverpool’s port, you see.
Well, I don’t quite know where that came from, unless I said it one drunken night, maybe when I chose to be more romantic than Birkenhead, where I was in fact born. I was born in Birkenhead on May the 3rd, 1938, but my family hailed form Scotland, between Glasgow and Edinburgh, and for many years I lived in Edinburgh, when I returned there for the first performance of Flowers, that show that put me on the map, you know.
Lindsay Kemp> debuts his new production Histoire du Soldat (‘A Soldier’s Tale’) by Stravinsky on 5th May, in Bari, Italy. You can buy tickets for the World Premiere here.
Lindsay Kemp – The Last Dance is a film currently being made by Producer / Director Nendie Pinto-Duschinsky – check here for more information.
Another BBC curio from the vaults, here we have Kate Bush talking about her favorite vegetarian dishes on the TV show Delia Smith’s Cookery Course in 1980. Smith is a bit of a legend of British broadcasting, having hosted cookery shows since the early 70s, That doesn’t stop the food in this clip looking a bit, well, bland I’m afraid, but Bush aficionados will be glad to hear the story of how she turned vegetarian, and overjoyed to have this first hand peek into her eating habits:
Thanks to Philip McEachen!
After the jump, the video for Bush’s 1993 single “Eat The Music”...