So after the disastrously overcrowded scene that was the She & Him concert at Millennium Park, I came home and immediately began watching the above documentary on Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love. The documentary is only available for the next week at Pitchfork.tv.
When it comes to Kate, I’m always patient with new listeners. They’ll get it. I’ve never met anyone who has not “gotten it” after a little bit of time.
The Top 35 Or So Songs of the 80’s
#03: Kate Bush - Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)
How can a man know what it’s like to be a woman (and vice versa) without any firsthand experience? This is the question behind Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. Kate’s answer is a day-in-the-life sexual exchange with her partner, but breaking into the experiential black box requires supernatural intervention. In an interview, Kate said she originally conceived of the song as a deal with the devil but thought God would make a more compelling party to bargain with. Either way, the deal is impossible as the big hypothetical “if I only could” makes clear, and so we’re in the realm of Forbidden Knowledge. The tech-heavy production carves out an icy and distant soundscape, with a big noisy guitar solo and a polyphony of shrieking Bushes thrown in for good measure, but it all serves the premise of the song: Kate Bush, Frustrated Promethean.
[Note: Reposted because I might have accidentally deleted the original.]
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
I declared a second major in English this morning, just in time for graduation this weekend. I also heard this song for the first time this morning. I had always skipped past “Wuthering Heights” when it started playing, since the twinkling opening had always struck me as too much a fairy tale….And now I have the song on repeat.
It’s not until the chorus that the fairy tale gives way for the song’s ghost story. Following the novel, Kate plays a ghost who’s locked out outside from her Heathcliff, and the literary premise lets Kate use all her talents to haunt us. I’m not sure how much of surprise it was that this song hit #1 in the UK. It’s an amazing performance and a wonderful pop song, and it taps into Britain’s literary heritage, making it a national work (for the record, the song hit #118 in the U.S.).
Five years from now, what I will probably remember from reading Victorian literature in school is its gothic suspense and feminine modesty. Female narrators would open stories with lines like “I’m just a silly girl…” and “I’m probably too naive…” since it was apparently a problem for female protagonists to be upstanding characters or talented storytellers and know it. And here, on her first single, an 18-year-old weirdo banshee demands our souls: let me have it…you know it’s me. Of course, we’re helpless—she’s undeniable and knows it. And so began her career: simultaneously amazing us and fucking with us. Just watch her.