Here’s a clip of British songwriter, and out-of-left-field pop star Kate Bush with her UK top five hit ‘Bambooshka’ the lead track from her 1980 album Never for Ever.

Kate Bush debuted in 1978 with her album The Kick Inside, with an immediate hit with her song “Wuthering Heights”.  Even while continuing her career as a solo artist, she contributed vocals to Peter Gabriel’s third album – that’s her on his single “Games Without Frontiers” – as well as on the duet with Gabriel on “Don’t Give Up”, in the video of which she also appears.  Among other things she took away from her experience in working with Gabriel was his approach to songwriting, which involving building a song starting with a drum track.  This informed her 1984 album The Hounds of Love, arguably her most celebrated work.
Kate Bush debuted at age 19 with her album The Kick Inside, with an immediate hit with her song “Wuthering Heights”. Even while continuing her career as a solo artist into the 1980s, she also contributed vocals to Peter Gabriel’s third album – that’s her on his hit single “Games Without Frontiers” – as well as on the duet “Don’t Give Up”, single and video. Among other things she took away from her experience in working with Gabriel was taking up his approach to songwriting, which involves building up a song starting with a drum track, and layering other elements on top of it . This approach informed her 1985 album The Hounds of Love, arguably her most celebrated work.

This is a love-gone-wrong tale as told in an olde worlde style – a fairy tale or parable about a woman who tests her husband by writing him letters, pretending she is a mysterious young would-be lover, and ultimately loses her relationship because of her groundless suspicions of him.  There is something classically literate about this song, making me wonder where someone so young could have come up with it. Of course her first hit was based upon Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, so she was clearly interested in a literary approach from the get-go.

In terms of the way the song sounds, there is nothing like this tune as reflected in any other artist I’ve ever heard; it’s unique, as is its author.  The odd arrangement of male backing vocalists, use of sound effects, and of course Bush’s own delivery which is singular by anyone’s standards, should make this track sound more avante garde than pop.  Yet, pop it is, along with a singalong chorus.

Such an approach to songwriting and presentation would of course never be permissible today for a 22 year old woman.  It’s interesting in the video that Bush is using sexuality in the same sorts of ways as many a pop starlet might.  Yet, you also get the impression that this is more of a byproduct of what she’s trying to do, rather than a simple play to illicit a response to her physical presence.

The very subject matter of the song works in the opposite direction, railing against the forces against a woman who feels she is of less worth because she is no longer physically attractive to her husband, the truth of which is never fully revealed.  This type of complexity and irony would make it possible for other likeminded artists – Sarah McLachlan, Jane Siberry, Tori Amos, et al – to explore the same kinds of thematic landscapes, full of sexuality, yet not objectifying the authors.

Bush would continue to have success, particularly on her Hounds of Love album, which is looked upon by many as her masterpiece.  The title track off of that was memorably covered by UK guitar band The Futureheads.  After a spate of records by the end of the 80s, Bush’s career took second place to her role as a mum.  She recently put out a double-album Aerial in 2005, recorded in her home studio in Kent.

For more information, take a gander at the official Kate Bush website.

And for more music, check out the Kate Bush MySpace page.

Enjoy!

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