Viewing posts tagged kate bush

Oh England My Lionheart

Oh England My Lionheart
Tour of Life

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It's difficult to imagine Kate Bush heralding from any place except England. It’s certainly easy to understand why she’s popular in countries outside the U.K., but Bush is a uniquely English phenomenon. She came from pastoral England and often sings about British culture. Her work, especially on Lionheart, is full of allusions to English and Irish folklore, and she’s predominantly influenced by British music (glam rock was also a ...

In Search of Peter Pan

In Search of Peter Pan
Tour of Life

In recent entries, we’ve addressed that Lionheart is a heavily recycled album. Pressed for time to read an album after months of promoting The Kick Inside, Bush did the sane thing and salvaged songs she’d already written. The result is largely to the album’s detriment, with the overall sound being a step backwards from The Kick Inside’s iconoclasm. Yet the overall retro feel makes Lionheart an interesting album in its own right, with a relative lack of confidence which in some ways makes it more compelling than its predecessor. Lionheart retreats often to the recesses of childhood and theater in the face of worldly adult duties. It’s an album constructed from a terror of being thrust onto the world stage and working in narrower confines than one was allowed in adolescence. Worse, it’s being asked to fall back to keep yourself afloat. Imagine if you had to submit your associate’s degree essays for an undergraduate program, and you have something akin to this album.

Resultingly, Lionheart is apprehensive and often lyrically tense. “In Search of Peter Pan,” an odd track loved more by Björk than the general public, is rife ...

Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake

Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake (demo)
Don’t Push Your Foot on the Heartbrake
Leo Sayer Show
Tour of Life
Xmas special

Following her six months of promotional excursions through Europe, Kate Bush had four weeks to write songs for a new album. This time crunch put great restraint on Bush, and as a result she only wrote three truly brand new songs. Shortly afterwards, Bush spent ten weeks at Superbear Studios in Nice, France, recording her only album to feel like it was made under time constraints. Accordingly, Lionheart is inferior to The Kick Inside: it lacks the “new artist” thrill of that album and the preparedness that is a trademark of Bush’s other albums. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating collection of ten songs in its own right, and deserves more attention than the critical consensus has given to it.

As we’ve mentioned, Lionheart is mostly leftovers, scraps of The Kick Inside and the Phoenix demos reheated in a French studio. Yet for all that gets made of its leftovers status, Lionheart showcases a drastic tonal shift from The Kick Inside. It’s a much queasier album, with less assurance that the power of youth and precociousness will save the ...

The Japan Trip (She's Leaving Home, The Long & Winding Road, Let It Be)

Following the release of The Kick Inside, Kate Bush undertook an astonishingly busy 6-month promotional campaign. In addition to topping charts and appearing on what seemed like every TV program in the UK, Bush did an extensive amount of traveling, visiting West Germany, the Republic of Ireland, the Netherlands, France, the United States, Canada, and Japan. One could unpack any one of these tips individually, but they mostly consist of Bush performing songs from The Kick Inside. As Dreams of Orgonon is a song-by-song blog, we analyze episodes in Kate Bush’s career through the lenses of new songs as they come. Bush’s promotional visit to Japan in June of 1978 not only offers a couple songs we haven’t heard her sing before, even if they are covers, but it gives a chance to see what Kate Bush does when she’s not doing Kate Bush things.

You see, Kate Bush wasn’t in control of her environment. She didn’t have her own band, gigs she planned, and she was undertaking activities she wouldn’t do again until the Eighties and Nineties (we will cover Let It Be on this blog again). But even more paramount to the uniqueness of Bush’s Japan trip is ...

Strange Phenomena

Strange Phenomena (demo)
Strange Phenomena
Efteling
Hammersmith Odeon

In “Strange Phenomena,” we have another statement of intent from Kate Bush. Unlike most of Bush’s songs, it’s a purely conceptual rather than narrative work. “Strange Phenomena” is populated by the esoteric and the inconclusive, dwelling in the liminal spaces of everyday life and exploring its unexplained coincidences. It nods to the physical and the supernatural in equal turn, suggesting the two aren’t separate entities but different compartments of life, in league with one another, conspiring to make life exciting. In short, it’s everything The Kick Inside takes stock in and values.

“Strange Phenomena” famously begins with an arpeggiating (A/F) ode to menstruation, “the phase of the moon when people tune in.” In her typical fashion, Kate Bush refers to menstruation as “the punctual blues,” suggesting both a musical quality and a natural rhythm to this particular bodily function (she also refers to it as something “every girl” knows about, but in her defense trans issues were not a topic of national conversation in 1978). Throughout The Kick Inside, Bush has made a case that all functions of the body are a thing of beauty, whether those be ...

Feel It

Feel It
Tour of Life (Stockholm)
Tour of Life (London)

Out of the 13 songs on The Kick Inside, 12 are fairly maximalist in their productions, sporting a few musicians on each track. Even the quieter piano ballads like “The Man with the Child in His Eyes” and “The Kick Inside” are accompanied by orchestras. The result is an album that, while not necessarily carried by its production, measures itself by a standard of heavily produced and instrumentation-based albums.

It’s long been remarked that Kate Bush’s primary instrument is her voice. Even when her melodies are idiosyncratic and sprawling and her albums’ productions demand an audience’s ear, listeners always talk about her voice first. Even an instrumental track like “Night Scented Stock” is guided by Bush’s vocals. Her most recent collection of new songs, 50 Words for Snow, takes a back-to-basics approach of voice-and-piano that Bush started her career with. While the Fairlight will guide Bush towards her best work, there’s hardly a more powerful duo in popular music than Bush and her piano.

“Feel It” is an exceedingly intimate affair, the only song on The Kick Inside to have no session musicians. It’s Bush alone at her piano, saying ...

Them Heavy People

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Them Heavy People
Music video
Saturday Night at the Mill
Efteling
Sound in S (Japan)
Seiko commercial
Seiko commercial 2
Saturday Night Live (start at 7:25)
Legs and Co
Tour of Life
Xmas special

“There is a cosmic law which says that every satisfaction must be paid for with a dissatisfaction.”
— G. I. Gurdjieff.

The philosopher-mystic G. I. Gurdjieff’s spiritual path The Fourth Way presents a response to three ways of enlightenment: disciplining the body, emotions, or mind (these are the paths of the fakir, the monk, and yogi, but this isn’t a theology blog). Rather than focusing on becoming one’s true self through just one of these channels, Gurdjieff taught a Fourth Way which prioritized all of them at once. This was a way for people to learn their true selves by engaging with this path in daily working life without undertaking John the Baptistian asceticism. Gurdjieff’s doctrine caught on with such figures as P. L. Travers, Robert Anton Wilson, Peter Brook, and became influential in its disparate, scattered way.

The reference to Gurdjieff in “Them Heavy People” is notable for how it tips an already offbeat ...

Room for the Life

Room for the Life
Tour of Life

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The women’s lib movement (or movements, really) of the Seventies are a battlefield you could write several blogs about. Feminism was becoming impossible to ignore as a mainstream presence, with books like Robin Wright’s anthology Sisterhood is Powerful and Angela Davis’ Women, Race, and Class coming to light.. Whatever position one was going to take on gender, it would have to be a reaction to feminism in some form.

A couple entries ago we made it clear that Kate Bush is at the bare minimum not a conscious feminist. Her work is useful for women’s sexual liberation and art, but Bush’s beliefs are broadly conservative. I’ve gone on at length about Bush’s soft spot for men — she’s generally inclined to treat them well and make them paragons of beauty and virtue. Sometimes she’ll even do this at the expense of failing to call men out when they commit immoral acts, as we’ll see in “Babooshka.” Bush is a heterosexual woman, and one with an unusually positive view of men. One of the primary effects of this preference is that her songs ...

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