I think the best term for this musician, this pure artist, is the Professor of Pop. She has an almost academic approach to her work. I am talking about Kate Bush. As winter sets in, I find that one of the most luxurious comforts is to laden the fire with logs, light scented candles and allow myself the pleasure of losing an hour with her delightful, epic piece of work, Fifty Words for Snow.
I do not believe in regrets but I must confess one of my failings of 2014 was to secure a ticket to her live show. The descriptions of this total theatre experience have left me envious of those who did manage to attend. It was grating to hear the gutter press moan about the fact she chose not to sing Wuthering Heights. Lambasting her for choosing not to perform a song she did in another lifetime. It is the equivalent of asking Picasso to paint his early pieces or Hockney to re-do his infamous Splash painting.
But what else can you expect from the media, an industry that pushes Simon Cowell’s vehicle for contrived entertainment, to promote a throwaway singer (of sorts), not an artist. I always ask people who even attempt to engage me in conversation about this type of car-crash television, who won three years ago? Ninety percent of the time, I am given a complete blank look. Everyone remembers Susan Boyle, but that’s possibly because she defied the conventions of what a pop star should look like, fake body parts, perfect teeth and a saccharine brain. I don’t even think that show was X-Factor, but all of this modern coliseum-like entertainment blends into one. Apologies, I digress, I will get off my soap box and leave Speakers’ Corner for the time being. I must have had ‘Ranty Pops’ for breakfast.
With Kate Bush’s work, there is WORK behind the work. I like the fact that she does not bow down in the digital temple of commercialism, vomiting out album, tour, dvd, album, tour REPEAT. She releases the material when it is ready. One thing she cannot be described as is pusillanimous in her approach. It is all about the process. Graft equals craft!
The work needs to be listened to in one sitting, in its entirety. I encourage readers to listen to Kate Bush’s album Fifty Words for Snow this season. An atmospheric, bold, collection of pieces inspired by Winter. What an idea of genius to have Stephen Fry list off different words that describe snow to a mesmerising soundscape with interjections by Kate, like a musical blizzard, a chilled frost wind. It may depict the coldness of the season, but time spent with Kate Bush always warms the heart.