I'm Secretly A Huge Bush Fan

By cjohnson | October 9, 2005 1:16 am

…And all four of my co-bloggers have spilled their beverage. Sorry dudes!

kate bush photoI mean Kate Bush. Just to illustrate how out of touch I am with everything these days, I learned from my mother (who is visiting me) that she has released a new album.

Anyway, this is a big deal, at least in the UK (the release, not my being out of touch). Apparently the buzz about this is just huge over there. She has not released an album in 12 years, and this one is supposed to be really rather good. We shall see (hear).

I was simply in love with Kate Bush and her music as a teenager. It was not a sex thing (inasmuch as anything can be far removed from sex as a teenage boy); instead I was in love with just how different her music was while still remaining both interesting, tuneful, bizarre, and beautiful. (And often very funny.) You see, I loved listening to things other than the standard 80’s UK pop everyone else was into at school, and I went to great lengths in pursuit of this, and the results were not always interesting and enjoyable at the same time (you may recall me writing about being into obscure German electronic music as a teenager). But Kate Bush managed to be different and all of those other things I said above at the same time. She was clearly a genius, at least to my mind back then, producing all sorts of tremendous musical ideas and sounds.

kate bush with fairlightAlways being a supporter of the underdog, I probably secretly enjoyed it a bit that few others seemed to appreciate her tremendous talent, so that I could fiercely defend her. Women musical artists in the genre in those days were mostly supposed to just be pretty and sing stuff they were told to, not sing (with a truly haunting voice), dance, play an instrument, write, produce, mix, edit….etc…(I know there were a few other exceptions). And as a bonus, she showed up (with a Fairlight CMI!!**) on the cover of some new magazine I was into entitled something like “Electronics and Music Hobbyist” which had pages and pages of stuff on the internal circuitry of various sound synthesizers and sound modifying devices, my big hobby at the time, so she was right up my alley.

Anyway, a lot of you won’t even know who Kate Bush is, being either too young or from the wrong country. Well, so many artists copy her to some extent, so you’ve heard her through others. Think Tori Amos is terribly original? She’s channelling Kate Bush. Think you’re terribly cool listening to Bjork? Direct decendent of Kate Bush. Into Fiona Apple or any of the 1700 or so “talented girl singing with piano” artists? All Kate’s children. To get straight to the source, go out and get “The Kick Inside”, and then “The Dreaming” and “Hounds of Love”.

Here’s an excellent article from the Scotsman on her career trajectory and the recent buzz about the new release. And here is a short Guardian article, and a Wikipedia entry. And all around the web you can easily find more material, including an authorized download of the first single from the album.

I have to rush off now. My new (minor?) celebrity neighbour seems to be having his first party and his guests seem to be being valet-parked (the horror!). I have to go and look a bit disapproving from the balcony.

There goes the neighbourhood…


(**Update: The exclamation marks are to indicate that this was a big deal back then. That piece of kit was every in electronic music hobbyist’s wildest dreams.)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Arts, Music, Personal
  • Another Bush fan

    Kute Bush rules!!!!!

    Being at about the same age as Kate Bush, I have a very vivid memory of hearing her first single as a teenager.

    A great (slightly outdated) source for Kate Bush fans is GaffaWeb at http://gaffa.org/.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/mark/ Mark

    I liked Kate Bush also, although wasn’t an honest-to-goodness follower like you Clifford. Mostly though, I liked all those deliciously cheesy 80s bands. You should see my iPod – it’s so 80s I should give it blond streaks and buy it a nice new-romantic style holder.

  • Adam

    I occasionally hear a Kate Bush album being played and think ‘why aren’t I into this’ and then three songs go by and I remember. I can even enjoy two Kate Bush songs in a row, but there is some critical phenomena taking place in my ears that turns the third song into irritating whiny crap. It is possible, though, that my increasingly old fogeyish tendency to like music from my youth might overcome this and take me to four or even more consecutive Kate Bush tracks whilst maintaining enjoyment.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Another Bush fan: Thanks! I stumbled on that site last night. It is amazing….where do people find the time?

    Mark: So did you spill your beverage? Funnily enough, in my old age I’m now fondly remembering all the cheesy 80s stuff I used to avoid. I keep playing Madness in my car, for some reason. Feels very ironic.

    Adam: The antidote: Just enjoy them two in a row and then put soemthing else on. It does not matter how you enjoy her music, just do it however works.


  • janet

    Wow, I had not thought of Kate Bush in at least a decade, literally. I guess it makes sense, if she hasn’t put out an album in 12 years.

    When I was in high school I was very much into classical music, though I also professed to like jazz, while knowing next to nothing about it. Come to think of it, this is still pretty much the case. Most of the music I glommed onto that falls outside this description can be traced to the tastes of old roommates. For example, I had a roommate who was really into folk, especially some of the crossover stuff that combined different folk traditions, which is why I have a number of albums by Touchstone and New Grass Revival and obscure (to Americans, anyway) Scottish bands. I have an REM album that I trace back to a woman who was my roommate in the summer of 1985; I remember very little about her except for her obsession with the band, and the way she would go to clubs to hear them wearing a flowered dress and a big pink hat, the better to stand out in the primarily black-clad audience — an effective tactic for getting to know the band.

    And I associate Kate Bush very specifically with my old housemate Bob, who liked her despite the fact that he considered her to be “pop.” One of the things that impressed me about Bush was the subject matter she would take on, that she didn’t just sing as herself — to me she has a sort of bardic, even impersonal quality, at least in the small part of her output that I’m familiar with.

  • Athena

    I still play my KB compilation, “The Whole Story,” and I own two other CD’s that I enjoy for the sounds that still seem fresh after all these years. My guilty pleasure song is “Babooshka” for its clever little love-found-again story. “Experiment IV” always fascinated me with its intoxicating rhythm and the sci-fi, Cold War colorings – music’s power used as a weapon.

  • Steve

    Here are a two really useful Kate Bush links for those who want to find out more about the enigmatic lady:

    1. There is a very active news forum at http://pub3.ezboard.com/bthehomegroundandkatebushnewsandinfoforum.

    2. There is a news and information site at http://homepage.eircom.net/~twoms/katebush.htm.

  • Steve

    For some reason the first link I gave does not work (in Internet Explorer, at least). But if you do Copy Shortcut and paste into the Address field then it does work. Curious!

  • SteveM

    I see someone else here is also posting as ‘Steve’. OK, I will use ‘SteveM’. Anyway, Clifford, having a teenage thing about Kate Bush and her music is hardly original!:) I mean, who did’nt?:) Looking back now we see that many 80s bands and artists were really excellent even though we paid little attention to them at the time. Music is so bad now (mostly) that we now realise and appreciate how good a lot of that stuff was. As bad as it is for a hardened metalhead like myself to admit it, I now find myself listening to Duran Duran, Ultravox and Culture Club through my earphones, and lots of other wonderfully cheesy 80s stuff (as Mark put it). Well, it was fun decade for the most part.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford

    Hi SteveM. Thanks. Where does it say that I promise to post only only observations that are original? That would rather bust my hope that people can relate to me even though I’m one of those “whacky scientists”, right? On the contrary, it’s good to hear when I’m not alone on these things.

    By the way, it is also not original to observe that your observation that “music now is bad and what we thought was bad before from our youth is now good” is probably little to do with the music and more to do with nostalgia. I suspect that it is at least as good, if not better, on average. Also, several of the songwriters who wrote in those days also write for lots of the Britney’s, etc, now. It’s just that the production values change. Strip that away, and you find that the songs are not that different, by and large. But yes, I’d like to pretend that it was better back then too.



  • SteveM

    Clifford, I was only pulling your leg about originality of your posting:). I recall my brother was “in love” with Kate Bush for a while and a guy in my halls of residence back then had a room that was essentially a Kate Bush shrine. I admit I seem to have reached that age when I’m getting pretty nostalgic for 70s/80s music and 70s/80s tv. Sure, I still find there is good or interesting music still coming out, but with a lot of it there is a sense of having heard it before. Eventually, just about every mathematical permutation and combination of notes and rythyms, harmonies and melodies gets used up. Everything starts to sound recycled, similar or derivative or manufactured and disposable, at least to me. I think it is fair to say that it is more difficult now to really stand out and be distinctive in the music world. One thing about Kate Bush was/is her very distinctive voice and style which others have tried to emulate as you pointed out, but she was the original.

    Even with some bands I have followed for 10-15 years or more there is a sense they have run out of ideas and that they have done their best work. I recall some people like John Horgan in his book “The End of Science” makes a similar argument for the sciences in that the best and most important stuff has already been done and discovered. Not so sure about that though.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/clifford/ Clifford


    No, I don’t believe in that sort of thing at all, overall. I think there is always this prevailing mood of how terribly “modern” we’ve become, that feeling of “we’ve never been here before”, and more and more I realize that is seldom true, where it really matters. I think the journey of discovery in physics and other areas of science is probably quite young -we’ve got tremendous amounts of astonishing stuff to see. Same with music. Picking a random point, it must have seemed to people (in Western music) that Beethoven was the pinnacle of what was possible in music, having assimilated and extended everything from before, and completely opened up several news areas and avenues. But no. I hope people realize that’s just wrong. Just as wrong as it was when people thought it about Bach. Just listen to the explosion of musics of various sorts that happened in the 20th century. I think that this is true in any genre.



  • http://math-et-physique.over-blog.com Fabien Besnard

    Amazing ! I would never have thought to learn that Kate Bush made a new album from a physics blog ! I’m a big fan also (although I don’t listen to her as often as before). However, her last album was not great (to say the least), so I’m a bit afraid of what can come next… Maybe it’s better to stop things when they are at the top (as KB is concerned, and in my opinion, that would be after the dreaming and the second part of Honds of love).

    Please, Clifford, write a review when you’ve heard the album.

  • Amy

    I’m with you Fabien. I cannot believe it’s been 12 years since Red Shoes – eeghads, I feel old. I LOVE Kate Bush. In the old days of cassette, I particularly loved the second side of Hounds of Love – it felt like one long story in a series of song.

    I am happy to hear about the new album and can’t wait to give it a listen. I have an iPod and was bummed at the staggering lack of Kate in their store. Maybe a whole new generation of listeners will get into her work and then they’ll do a better job.

    Thanks for the good news!!

  • SteveM

    Clifford, if you were an electronic music hobbyist, I highly recommend this site if you don’t already know of it


    This guy creates the most incredible electronic soundscapes or soundworlds, what might be called “atmospheric space music”. He has a very long
    list of ground-breaking recordings.
    The link


    gives some radio shows that are a good intro, especially the one-hour show “Music from the hearts of space”. Don’t let the new-age feel of of his site out you off, this guy is brilliant, but it makes sense for him to tap into that market. Play his cd “The Magnificent Void” (one of his more haunting and cosmic works) through headphones at night if you really want to capture a sense of just how vast and scary the universe is. I have been playing it all week. Recommended to all cosmologists:)
    There is a discography section on the page with clips too.

  • http://motls.blogspot.com/ Lubos Motl

    I have never heard of Kate Bush before, but at any rate, I am also a Bush fan. 😉

  • Arun

    Nobody spilled any coffee…..


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