It's me, I'm Molly Bloom, I've come home!
May 4, 2011 1:20 PM   Subscribe

After twenty years, the James Joyce estate finally grants Kate Bush permission to use Molly Bloom's soliloquy. Now called Flower of the Mountain, the original lyrics have been replaced by a passage from James Joyce's 1922 novel. "Originally when I wrote the song The Sensual World I had used text from the end of Ulysses," Bush said. "When I asked for permission to use the text I was refused, which was disappointing ... When I came to work on this project I thought I would ask for permission again and this time they said yes ... I am delighted that I have had the chance to fulfill the original concept." Emma Forrest, of the Paris Review, on the destructive influence of Kate Bush, "Bush emerged at the same time as Debbie Harry, but your punk-rock Grace Kelly was nothing like our prog-rock Ophelia. Never had one felt so worried for a pop star." A clip from the new song, Flower of the Mountain and her new single, Deeper Understanding. Wolfmother's cover of Wuthering Heights, The Sweptaway's cover of Wuthering Heights, Noel Fielding's cover of Wuthering Heights.
posted by geoff. (95 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
 
Mmm, yes.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:26 PM on May 4, 2011 [11 favorites]




Bet on Cathy.
posted by elsietheeel at 1:33 PM on May 4, 2011


Man, did I regret buying all of those Tori Amos albums the first time I listened to a Kate Bush record all the way through.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:34 PM on May 4, 2011 [28 favorites]


Bush’s artistic celebration of fragility and madness had so influenced me that when it actually happened, pulling me under one night in my Manhattan studio apartment, I didn’t see the problem. Madness had looked so good on her. No matter that I looked like hell and was desperately unhappy and also very dull and had no number-one hit singles and had not fallen in love with Peter Gabriel or had Prince write a song for me.

No, Emma Forrest ..... I'm sorry, but you're mistaken. Believing that Kate Bush is all about fragility and madness misses the point by miles. What's fragile and mad is the world that she's trying to escape or transcend. The hounds of love are what's real and strong and compelling; that's the point. There's a quiet strength and obsessive focus and individuality (not to mention spirituality) in her music (most of it, anyway) that defies the common perception of her as this flighty, wan, wispy man-hungry descendant of the Brontës running through meadows and copses with a wild lost look in her eyes.
posted by blucevalo at 1:39 PM on May 4, 2011 [24 favorites]


What blucevalo said. Her music touches on madness, but there's no sense that Bush herself is remotely mad; eccentric and artistic, yes, mentally ill, certainly not.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:40 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man, did I regret buying all of those Tori Amos albums

If you ever get tempted to listen to good ol' Tori again, listen. Oy.
posted by sonascope at 1:42 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


If Kate Bush still managed to pull off making the uillean pipes sound sexy, I'm down with this.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:44 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoah, sonascope, that even predates the Y Kant Tori Read stuff, which I'm somewhat ashamed to admit I hunted down on bootleg about a decade and a half ago.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:44 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite cover version: China Drum
posted by scody at 1:47 PM on May 4, 2011


If you ever get tempted to listen to good ol' Tori again, listen . Oy.

I never thought I would ever say this: The Wire picked the wrong theme song.
posted by geoff. at 1:48 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


When I was old enough to know better, I ate a bar of soap in the shape of the Muppets’ Fozzie Bear, because I loved him so much I wanted to consume him, even if doing so made me ill.

Sweet idea, man, but you know who's an even better muppet that encourages theophagy? Sit down for a second and let me tell you about a muppet who's even friendlier than Kermit, even more powerful than Sweetums, and yeah -- even more perseceuted than Fozzie.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:50 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


and her new single, Deeper Understanding.

Featuring Auto-Tune, that scourge of the twenty-first century whose mighty and terrible power is so fierce that not even Kate Bush (Kate Bush!) can remain unscathed.
posted by tractorfeed at 1:51 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Deeper Understanding isn't a new song; she's re-doing an old song. (Now with auto-tune!)

The lyrics definitely show the song's age: it talks about disappearing into one's computer and isolating from people, as if that were something unusual and science-fictiony. :)

The song also talks about "loading" programs into your computer that you "ordered from a magazine." Now that's old school!
posted by edheil at 1:53 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, call me cynical, but the Joyce estate's copyright is finally expiring on most of his work in the UK at the end of this year. I suspect they finally said sure to this because it's their last chance to glean any money off it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:59 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Disclosure: I have a pastiche of "Eveline" forthcoming in an SF mag in March of 2012. If the Joyce estate somehow extends their copyright beyond January of 2012, I will be withdrawing the story, because the Joyce estate is scary.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:04 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really like that Puppini Sisters take on Wuthering Heights. I like Kate Bush now, but the original version of that song was like nails on chalkboard for me as a teenager. It put me off her music for years.
posted by immlass at 2:05 PM on May 4, 2011


Stephen Joyce is such a dick.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:07 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


My first college roommate would fall asleep to Kate Bush, except that side of the album ended in Breathing, a song that inspired numerous adolescent nightmares in the Reagan years. It took me about a decade to get into Kate Bush again.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:12 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I read up a little more on Kate Bush, not being familiar with her work, and she impresses me as a passionate, creative artist. I also learned that according to the Observer, her cover of Rocket Man in Wogan in 1991 was voted best cover ever, so I went and checked that out on YouTube.

I'm so used to the Elton John version, I'm not really that fond of her rendition; her voice is a bit too twee and she ends up sound a little too perky in parts and too dramatic in others for me. Still, from what I've seen, she's a compelling performer.
posted by misha at 2:15 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Chromatics cover of Running Up That Hill is really great.
posted by dydecker at 2:20 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Her music touches on madness, but there's no sense that Bush herself is remotely mad; eccentric and artistic, yes, mentally ill, certainly not.

Another reason that I'm extremely impressed by Bush as a songwriter is that she changes narrative voice more frequently than most other artists change key signature, sometimes within a single song. Granted, it works better on some songs than others, but it certainly makes identifying her too strongly with her lyrics a bit problematic.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:26 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best cover of Wuthering Heights is White Flag's on this compilation

(Sorry, can't find it anywhere)
posted by lumpenprole at 2:32 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Placebo's cover of Running is, for me, the version that speaks loudest to me.

For Wuthering, I vote the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

And I am confirmed in my opinion that the best part of Wolfmother is their Frank Frazetta covers, and he's dead.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:38 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Kate Bush is a goddess incarnate upon this planet, and the fact that KATE BUSH HAS A NEW PROJECT OUT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT NEWS OF THE PAST WEEK AND YES THAT INCLUDES ANYTHING UNTOWARD WHICH MAY HAVE HAPPENED TO A BROWN PERSON SUNDAY NIGHT.

I've lived with her music for so long, I can barely remember a time when I haven't had some bit of it running through the random-access random-connection web of my thoughts. I still have The Whole Story on cassette and VHS on the shelves with the rest of my music collection, because that was the only way to get a lot of her videos in a single place for the longest time.

I keep praying she'll tour. But after what happened last time, I know it'll never happen.

I still haven't fully grokked Aeriel or recovered from its utter brilliance. I can only hope that whatever she's about to release will be equally awesome. Or at least I use hearing of this new release by her as an indication that she hasn't completely vanished, and we may continue to receive the celestial blessing which is her music on a quasi-regular basis.

After the last break, even the 6 years in-between doesn't seem THAT long.

Thanks for posting this. I hadn't heard a thing about it, and my soul is singing in a way it wasn't just a few moments ago from the news.
posted by hippybear at 2:39 PM on May 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


In an official statement, the James Joyce estate summarized the events as follows: "She asked again for permission and then yes and our hearts were going like mad and yes we said yes We will Yes."
posted by en forme de poire at 2:44 PM on May 4, 2011 [29 favorites]


Firesign Theatre used the soliloquy at the close of their album How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All back in 1969.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:45 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ya'all don't grok Kate Bush. Ya'all just revel from afar.

I have loved her and her stuff since the 80's. To the point of getting my hands on one of those giant promotional posters of the cover of Hounds of Love and then talking my roommate into letting me hang it. Then explaining to my girlfriend why I had it and no, she wasn't to feel threatened.
posted by Samizdata at 2:45 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always have to shy away from too much critical analysis of Kate Bush, which is sort of like analyzing the way the Beatles used church modes in composition on an unconscious programmatic level and...wait, did you happen to notice the way the world sort of disappeared when you first heard "Tomorrow Never Knows?"

One can examine Kate Bush at absurd length and never come up with a scientific, semiotic, or sociological explanation of what The Dreaming did to me back in 1983, when my cassette of that album sent watery tendrils of taproots twirling out of the orange foam phones of my Toshiba, spiraling into my ear canals and deeper, into all the places inside myself I never even knew existed.

To the people who do not hear the voices that are always just there, humming away just below the threshold of the everyday, they'll have to call it madness, and describe away the wonder and the joy of it, of the sweet recognition that someone, somewhere, hears what you hear. The Dreaming rewards close listening and deep repetition, and time brings songs into focus decades after you think they'd already changed you, when something hurts you just so or the light catches you just right, and suddenly, the well-worn pathway of a lyric so familiar that you unconsciously slip it into conversation just for the pleasure of revisiting an old friend lights up like an airport runway, showing you where it really leads.

I took up instruments in part because of Kate, rapt in the underwater daylight of her work, and though it took me fifteen years of trying to realize I'd never catch her up there, I found my other voice, and I set my sails on that sea, carried on a howling wind that's as keen to swamp me as to push me along.

"I WILL MAKE ONE THING AS GOOD AS THIS IN MY LIFE," I say out loud, sometimes, sitting myself in front of the keys with a story to tell and her voice pouring out of my headphones, and if I ever do, I will be content that it's all been for something. If it's a futile chase, I won't be discouraged, and so the fingers start to fly, the keys beating out the old frantic rhythms as words swirl and coalesce in that indescribable mutable realm of the in-between, turning to clouds, floating in sequence.

I know that something good is going to happen.

In the meantime, I still dream of organon, and I still wake up crying.

It's okay, though. It's perfect, actually.
posted by sonascope at 2:46 PM on May 4, 2011 [19 favorites]


Firesign Theatre used the soliloquy

I wonder if they bothered to ask permission, or just used it under fair-use / parody laws.
posted by hippybear at 2:47 PM on May 4, 2011


My 3 year old daughter's favorite song EVAR is Running Up That Hill, and she has been listening to the Hounds of Love album at bedtime for a solid 6 months now. She also does a mean version of Wuthering Heights. Complete with interpretive dance moves and everything.
posted by fancyoats at 2:51 PM on May 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


Kate Bush belongs to a pantheon of British famale artists which includes Thea Gilmore, and, to some extent, PJ Harvey, among others.

They are in this pantheon because they are good, and, while touring in the US is not unknown, none of them would ever make it anywhere near the tank town I live in, so I much be content to watch youtubes of them and dream. . .
posted by Danf at 2:52 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was just looking around for videos of examples of how Bush plays with identity and storytelling, and realized that, after 25-odd years of hearing her almost exclusively through audio, none of them hit the mark for me. (Except for Running up That Hill, which comes close.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 2:57 PM on May 4, 2011


Yeah, I think I am going to leave now before this subject turns me back into a gibbering fanboy.
posted by adipocere at 2:58 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


She makes me laugh and cry, at the same time.
posted by acheekymonkey at 2:58 PM on May 4, 2011


Firesign Theatre used the soliloquy

I wonder if they bothered to ask permission, or just used it under fair-use / parody laws.


I'm under the impression that in the US, it is in the public domain as per this. It is on Gutenberg and they're as on the up and up as you'll get.
posted by geoff. at 3:07 PM on May 4, 2011




Yup, it's in the public domain in the US.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:10 PM on May 4, 2011


Since we're all doing this, my favourite Kate Bush cover is the minimalist version of "Running Up That Hill" by Claudia Brücken (of Propaganda fame) and Andrew Poppy. It keeps intact the ecstatic feel of the original and adds just a hint of Teutonic melancholy.
posted by Modlizki at 3:16 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Danf: Kate hasn't toured much at all. 28 dates, total, in her entire career. Most of those in England. Seeing her live is as illusory as seeing The Wall was before Roger Waters embarked on his latest bit of madness.
posted by hippybear at 3:18 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Emma Forrest, of the Paris Review, on the destructive influence of Kate Bush


'____ music wrecked my life.' sheesh.

There were rumors of a new project on Del Palmer's blog (her bass player, studio engineering companion and ex-partner) but I wasn't holding my breath. Del Palmer is the author of that liquid bass sound on Deeper Understanding and many other KB tracks, although I prefer the original mix for a variety of reasons.

Misha, maybe you should listen to Rocket's Tail instead. Kate Bush could don a black helmet and turn out to be on vacation from a day job commanding the Death Star and I would perfectly OK with that.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:18 PM on May 4, 2011


I think it's absurd that James Joyce's estate even has the ability to decide yay or nay.
posted by empath at 3:27 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Morgan Fisher inspired me to record a lo-fi album of Kate Bush covers. Thank God it's filed in basement somewhere. Here's an essay with some swell Kate Bush gifs.

When I was young, CBC-2 Canada radio broadcast a 24 hour reading of Ulysses live from Ireland for Bloomsday (with short breaks). The actress who recited Molly's soliloquy added the implied punctuation, which made it seem coherent.

I highly recommend reading one random flipped page of Ulysses at bedtime. It is sweeter than reading it all the way through, and the poetic writing style is exquisite.
posted by ovvl at 3:33 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's absurd that James Joyce's estate even has the ability to decide yay or nay.

I think scientist Craig Venter would be inclined to agree
posted by to sir with millipedes at 3:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I adore Kate Bush, she is so utterly and completely sincere in her madness. My faves include an unreleased demo "Atlantis" , "Lilly", and "The Man with the Child in His Eyes" .
posted by Ruby Stevens at 3:38 PM on May 4, 2011


80's/90's Melbourne punk band Mr Floppy's cover of Wuthering Heights
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:00 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is where we post Kate Bush covers yes?

Futureheads - Hounds of Love

Alan Partridge - Kate Bush Medley
posted by Bodd at 4:09 PM on May 4, 2011


This is where we post songs based on James Joyce, yes? Syd Barrett - Golden Hair

I saw the video for 'Cloudbursting' after watching a documentary on Wilhelm Reich. That was strange

obligatory: She mouthed the words along to "running up that hill"
That song got scratched into her soul
He's never heard the song before
But still he gets the metaphor
He knows some people that switched places before

posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:46 PM on May 4, 2011


There's quite a long recent interview with Kate Bush on BBC Iplayer on a radio show called Front Row. Should be up for a few more days.
posted by zadcat at 5:54 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm uncomfortable with the worshipful adulation Kate Bush receives. I love her, but she's just a musician whose approach to her music is more creative than most musician's, and whose perfectionism is a little more overwhelming. I don't find it surprising that the romanticism of her music provokes a more romantic response in her fans, but nonetheless I'm wary of it.

Ulysses was my favorite book when I was sixteen. It struck such a chord with me that I still find it difficult to read other writers from Joyce's era; Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Pound, Steinbeck, and even Eliot to some degree. I prefer the penultimate chapter to Molly Bloom's soliloquy, though; Joyce confines himself to smaller and smaller actions with his self-interrogation, and finds ways to release language that's more and more beautiful. The very ending evokes... I don't even know what it evokes. I return to it every month or two, and I don't know why I do that either.

Womb? Weary?

He rests. He has travelled.

With?

Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer.

When?

Going to dark bed there was a square round Sinbad the Sailor roc's auk's egg in the night of the bed of all the auks of the rocs of Darkinbad the Brightdayler.

Where?


And then, in my edition of the book, a large dark dot. The end of questioning? A circle to represent the earth? Joyce doesn't get enough credit for his visual experimentations (see also the letter sequence in Finnegans Wake, and the one sentence in it where he writes "face to face" but the second "face" is mirrored and facing the first. Anyway, that passage grips me tightly. Probably too tightly. I worry sometimes that my obsession with Ulysses has stopped me from interacting with both other people and other art in ways that have hurt me.

That's something I worry about with Kate Bush, too, because certainly she has that same ability to arouse obsession, and about the Internet in general. How much is self-growth, and how much is self-obsession, and how much does it detract from other things? What would those other things be?

I think it's interesting that Bush's single is about a man who has nothing in his life other than his computer, but then he finds something incredible and beautiful on it, and it seems to justify his being there. It's nice to see a story about somebody finding something somewhere that doesn't immediately lead to his unfortunate demise. So much art that's about somebody looking for something and either never finding it or finding it and immediately regretting it.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:15 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I feel like hippybear, except maybe 30% less.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:26 PM on May 4, 2011


Also, I was pondering recently and realized that The Dreaming and Hounds of Love hold the same place in my heart that the Clash's Sandinista and London Calling do.

That is to say, while I'd agree that Hounds of Love is probably her "best" work, the one that people will still be falling in love with 50 years from now, The Dreaming is the one that just makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, song after song.

Likewise, it would be very hard to argue that London Calling wasn't the Clash's critical high point. But still, Sandinista is the one that makes me melt.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:37 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I first heard of Kate Bush with "Running Up That Hill" but somehow never got around to buying any full albums at first. In college when the girls down the hall loaned me some tapes I learned that really anything pre-"The Dreaming" I don't really care for. Her earliest stuff, her voice is just way too high and squeaky for me or something.

But then comes "The Dreaming" and the instrumentation starts going all kinds of crazy directions, and it's full bloomed genius.

For years my favorite thing by her was "The Ninth Wave," the suite of songs forming the second side of the "Hounds of Love" album. I used to listen to that whole sequence, imagining trying to stage it as some sort of multimedia/dance/theater piece.

Then there was that gap of so many years until "Aerial" came out. I bought the 2 CD set of it. The first CD? I think I've listed to it all once. I don't like it. Her singing has lost a lot of expression, and the songs on that first disc just don't do anything for me. First time I listened, I was sad that she seemed to have lost it.

But then I played the second disc, "A Sky of Honey"...and it has now supplanted "The Ninth Wave" in my mind as the Best Thing She's Ever Done. I adore it.

But I'm again apprehensive about this new project. I've listened to the full new version of "Deeper Understanding" and frankly prefer the original. I don't see what's been added to this new one that enhances it at all. (And the unchanged lyrics still date the song, even if the theme is still current.) So I'm just not sure what we're supposed to get from these re-dos of older songs, with what I still feel is a somewhat lesser quality singing voice?
posted by dnash at 6:57 PM on May 4, 2011


I think it's true that Kate Bush inspires a level of devotion in her fans that seems out of proportion. It's also true that she seems to be an artist you either love or loathe. In my household we are split on her as an artist, I adore her and my wife absolutely cannot stand her to point were I'm prohibited from playing her music in her presence.

I'm not sure what first attracted me to her as an artist but the Sensual World was when I really became aware of her as an artist. As a introverted high school freshman, her music hit me in a place that few other artists have really touched. I felt like songs like Deeper Understanding were talking to me as an individual. Furthermore not only was she saying she got me and understood where I was coming from but actually had answers about life, love, happiness, etc. There was a sense of the mystic (real or imaginary) about her music that seemed to suggest that she was transcendent in her art. Her personal choices to not tour in support of her music and her attempts to remain reclusive and secretive between projects seemed to highlight that. She seemed to be the opposite of a pop star, more a mad scientist laboring in a lab (recordin studio) than someone looking to cash in on fame.

Because she wasn't someone that has ever had a big popular following in the US when you found another fan it was like a secret handshake or club that you were both members of. You'd talk about your favorite album and trade old VHS copies of Live at the Hammersmith Odeon and wish that she went on tour but I think secretly you felt slightly smug that the unwashed masses didn't get her music just like they didn't get you. And while she has developed an almost cult-like following over the years (almost despite herself) I'm not sure that's really that much different than the fan base of Tori Amos, or Peter Gabriel or even much more mainstream artists like Madonna or Lady Gaga. I think it's more noticeable because it persists in the absence of any clear signs of encouragement from Kate herself (who seems like she'd actually prefer less fans).

Moving forward I really enjoyed the Red Shoes but in many ways I still struggle with Aerial as an album. I don't know that I've so much moved on from her as an artist so much as she seems to be leaving some of her old musical experiments in the dust and moving on to new toys.

I'm always glad to hear her new projects and while I'm not sure I understand rerecording Deeper Understanding with autotune components I'm always interested is seeing what sort of journey she's going to send us on.
posted by vuron at 7:00 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ulysses was my favorite book when I was sixteen. It struck such a chord with me that I still find it difficult to read other writers from Joyce's era; Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Pound, Steinbeck, and even Eliot to some degree. I prefer the penultimate chapter to Molly Bloom's soliloquy, though; Joyce confines himself to smaller and smaller actions with his self-interrogation, and finds ways to release language that's more and more beautiful. The very ending evokes... I don't even know what it evokes. I return to it every month or two, and I don't know why I do that either.

My favorite chapter is Proteus. "Beauty is not there. Nor in the stagnant bay of Marsh's
library where you read the fading prophecies of Joachim Abbas." I'm not sure what it means, but it's perfect.

"Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought
through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and
seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust:
coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was
aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his
sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro
di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane,
adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it it is a gate, if not a
door. Shut your eyes and see."

Perhaps because I'm still young enough to be Stephen.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:14 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh wow. I didn't realize that Robbie "Hagrid" Coltrane was in the new music video (which I just got around to watching).
posted by hippybear at 7:16 PM on May 4, 2011


(now that I'm finally home where I can get YouTube and listen:)

Yes! She kept the Irish pipes!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 PM on May 4, 2011


Pat Benatar, "Wuthering Heights"
posted by kirkaracha at 8:46 PM on May 4, 2011


I agree that Kate Bush is an incredibly divisive artist, in my experience, much like Björk. Similarly, though, like Björk's Homogenic, I think that Hounds of Love is the Bush album that even the haters will admit is rather brilliant. Most of my family can't stand Kate Bush, and I remember when I used to listen to The Kick Inside in high school and sing along my brother was amazed at the sheer pitch and in some ways grating sound of her music and voice. I've always, however, been flabbergasted that anyone could sing the way she does--her voice truly is an instrument, and a really unique one at that. The way she fluctuates her pitch and moves effortlessly between keys is astounding to me, and the only other female artists that approach that kind of creative vocalization to me are Joni Mitchell and the aforementioned Björk.

I'm not sure, Rory, why it would bother you that some people happen to like Kate Bush a lot. Kate Bush was always supplemental to Donovan when I was younger, who reserved my rabid attention, and that was followed by Joni in college, but I've always found her absolutely inspiring, evocative, breathtaking. Each time the title track of Hounds of Love comes on I get chills--I feel the same way about most of The Kick Inside and a lot of The Sensual World. I go through phases where I don't listen to her much (so much to listen to, not enough time), but then a post like this comes up and I end up listening her on repeat, as if reliving the experience of first hearing her each time. Very few artists have that effect on me, especially 10 years after I first bought one of their albums.
posted by nonmerci at 8:55 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


People who like Kate Bush might also like Happy Rhodes. I'll have to do an FPP about her sometime, if I can find enough quality material by her online. The first time I heard her, I asked my friend "who is that man singing with Kate Bush?" and he explained that it's just that Happy has a six-octave vocal range.
posted by hippybear at 9:03 PM on May 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


And, because it hasn't been mentioned, here is one of my favorites: "L'Amour Looks Something Like You".
posted by nonmerci at 9:11 PM on May 4, 2011


I'm glad Kate got what she wanted after waiting so long, even though I think her sly paraphrases of the source are more satisfying than direct quoting could ever be.

The good Wuthering Heights covers are already here, so allow me to flog Thomas Negovan's cover of And Dream of Sheep since it's so little known. It's from the covers comp I Wanna Be Kate.

Man, did I regret buying all of those Tori Amos albums the first time I listened to a Kate Bush record all the way through.

It's possible to like more than one steely-soft soprano with killer piano chops at a time. A song like Not the Red Baron (including this moving cover) is musically and lyrically comparable to Kate's most heartfelt work. Tori's had a number of clunkers, and her lyrical skills are usually not up to Kate's -- but then again almost no one else's are, either. She's also got a far larger discography alongside a lengthy and brilliant live music career. Both artists deserve better than a facile comparison of their gifts and achievements.
posted by melissa may at 9:31 PM on May 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


People who like Kate Bush might also like Happy Rhodes. I'll have to do an FPP about her sometime

Please $DEITY yes.
posted by immlass at 9:32 PM on May 4, 2011


zadcat: There's quite a long recent interview with Kate Bush on BBC Iplayer on a radio show called Front Row. Should be up for a few more days.

Thanks for the recommendation, that was a very enjoyable interview. It doesn't seem like it will expire in the same way tv broadcasts do.

Available until
12:00AM Thu, 1 Jan 2099

Direct Link to interview
posted by Harpocrates at 10:24 PM on May 4, 2011


Lovecraft in Brooklyn: Perhaps because I'm still young enough to be Stephen.

Ha! Yes! I'm in the same boat. I read that section you quoted, where Stephen either quotes his relatives lecturing him or else he's just lecturing himself, like it's addressed directly to me. There's a passage almost immediately after ("Hurray for the Goddamned idiot! Hray! No-one saw: tell no-one. Books you were going to write with letters for titles. Have you read his F? O yes, but I prefer Q. Yes, but W is wonderful. O yes, W.") which inspired me to start a series of blogs with letters for titles, just so I could properly appreciate the folly of that kind of in-your-head hubris.

I find it somehow incredibly reassuring that Joyce opens Ulysses with Stephen Dedalus, the smartest and probably unhappiest character, and closes with Molly Bloom, whose mind isn't nearly organized enough to construct any phrase out of Proteus, yet is still able to dissolve in a puddle of happiness. If the struggle in Ulysses is between its characters coming to terms with their own minds (and it's not, really), then there's something joyful about getting to Molly whose mind dances from thought to thought.

nonmerci: I'm not sure, Rory, why it would bother you that some people happen to like Kate Bush a lot.

The liking doesn't bother me. The worshipful tinge bothers me, for two reasons:

First, I wonder sometimes if a part of hipster backlash is a reaction to a perceived "cult of content", where people attach themselves so solidly to the music that they like that it stops letting people get in. I think it was Lovecraft here, commenting in the metal thread a couple of days ago, who suggested that if you asked an LCD Soundsystem or Xiu Xiu fan to help you get into their music, you'd get sneered at. As a fan of both those bands I'd like to think that this is more perception than reality — but I don't know. Certainly I know people who've been assholes when I told them I didn't listen to Beirut, or that I don't much like Bon Iver. I feel that way with a lot of mainstream pop, too: I'm nervous to tell people I don't know Drake well, because half the time I get this incredulous stare and this weird kind of condescension, like it's an affront that I don't know the guy.

I worry that the more effort we put into casually liking things, the more difficult it becomes for other people to connect to either us or to the music. You know that Don DeLillo passage about The Most Photographed Barn In The World that vanished because once you take a photograph of something, it becomes impossible for other people to see it without thinking of the photograph? I feel that way about a lot of music. I refuse to listen to Led Zeppelin for instance because I just feel uncomfortable listening to things if all I'm going to think about is what other people've said about their music. And I can listen to Rolling Stones songs that I discover before somebody talks about them, but I've read so much about Exile on Main Street that trying to listen to the album makes me squeamish. I love Kate Bush's music very much and so I try not to talk about individual personal reactions I've had to her music if I feel they'll make other people think about me when they listen to her.

Second, and this is a more personal reason so it's either more relevant or totally conceited, I'm in the process of writing music, and I come at music from many of the same directions that she does. She has a more classical/production-focused approach to songwriting, where each sound contributes to an image; she's talented enough with words that she can tell these really unique specific stories; but at the same time, she's got enough of a pop bent that all her songs, even her weirder ones, are catchy and fairly regular (within the context of the song; Waking the Witch is deeply strange, but it still follows the pop structure). I'm a classically-trained flautist/poet with a love for catchy hooks and myths and fairy tales, and spent a good part of my childhood fiddling with various sound programs, learning how to make things sound like other things.

Considering all that, Kate Bush is somebody who's taught me a lot. Songs like Cloudbusting and Under Ice are excellent teaching tools if you're trying to figure out how to write music lines that fit characters, and then how to add a layer of production underneath that backs up the music, and then to perform the song and add another layer, so that when you're done you've got four or five levels of focus that let you get away with both being catchy and lyrical without the song collapsing beneath itself. I don't have the economic freedom (or Pink Floyd on backup) that Bush had when she was my age, but I've got a whole lot of things Bush never had, so I'd like to think that when I'm in my mid-twenties I'll be able to make music as confident as Hounds of Love.

But there's ambition and then there's ambition, you know? I can tell myself that I'm going to be Kate Bush when being Kate Bush is a matter of combining proficiencies in lyricism, songwriting, performance, production, theatre, and dance simultaneously — there's a fuckton of effort to be put in, but it's just that, effort, and either I decide to put it in or I don't. But when people start talking about her music like it's holy writ, like it's a psalm or a blessing... Well, I'm not about to claim divinity. So when people sanctify music (and this doesn't only apply to Bush), in part it feels like a fuck-you-don't-try: "The only way you get to write songs like this are if you've been touched by God, and kid, you're hardly Godtouched."

Which is dumb. Hounds of Love was written by a 27-year-old girl who liked synthesizers and make-believe. Like Frank Zappa said once, the way you get music is you play notes on an instrument and then you have music. It's a craft that you labor at. You either keep getting better or you get to where you're happy and then you stay happy.

I love people who love Bush. I love Bush myself. But I make music and I've got friends who make music and there is nothing about any music ever that deserves an ounce of worship. Dedication, yes, even obsession, but not worship. Worship distances a thing from the human conditions it rose from, and it says not to even attempt such a thing. That's not what I want. I want everybody my age thinking they can be Kate Bush if they make the effort. I want Kate Bush to be my inspiring peer, rather than my intimidating goddess.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:05 AM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh so Kate Bush is a prog rock musician? Huh. Well that probably explains what's wrong with her music. Pity, because otherwise she has a lot of talent.
posted by happyroach at 12:37 AM on May 5, 2011


Hounds of Love was written by a 27-year-old girl who liked synthesizers and make-believe.

Um, no?
posted by New England Cultist at 12:51 AM on May 5, 2011


But when people start talking about her music like it's holy writ, like it's a psalm or a blessing... Well, I'm not about to claim divinity. So when people sanctify music (and this doesn't only apply to Bush), in part it feels like a fuck-you-don't-try: "The only way you get to write songs like this are if you've been touched by God, and kid, you're hardly Godtouched."

I wrote a rebuttal to that a long time ago. Nine Days, a forgettable 90s rock band, had one perfect moment of clarity: ""If I am only dreaming /then me and Bob are not that far away"

In other words, just by trying to make sense of things by putting words on paper you are doing the same activity the Godhead is doing. And somewhere Kate Bush is comparing herself to your idols, like Dylan was always comparing himself to Woody.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:20 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


New England Cultist: Um, no?

Well, she started work on it two years earlier, so 25. But my point still stands. Kate Bush created phenomenal music, she had a brilliant craftsmanship — but the things that made her music her own came from her. She was a twentysomething young woman with a love for romantic literature and synth production. (And many many other things, of course.) Her artistic triumph is a human triumph, not anything otherworldly or unpossessable.

Lovecraft in Brooklyn: In other words, just by trying to make sense of things by putting words on paper you are doing the same activity the Godhead is doing. And somewhere Kate Bush is comparing herself to your idols, like Dylan was always comparing himself to Woody.

Absolutely. But I don't know if I'd see that as a rebuttal. It's possible to look up to somebody without worshipping them.
posted by Rory Marinich at 1:33 AM on May 5, 2011


I keep praying she'll tour. But after what happened last time, I know it'll never happen.

Pessimism be damned! I'm going to the big Kate Bush/David Gilmour reunion concert. They're gonna play for five hours straight. I've got the money for the tickets in an envelope right here on my desk.
posted by fairmettle at 2:48 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I love that Noel Fielding version but I had to watch the original Kate Bush again to correct my memories, and I got a bit pregnant.
posted by estuardo at 3:14 AM on May 5, 2011


Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post and this thread.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:18 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reading the thread, two things come to mind: Wuthering Heights got me into listening to pop radio when it came out, as there was always a possibility that I might be able to hear it, it was quite bewitching, but adolescent embarrassment precluded me from buying it for a couple of years; In the last few months of 1985 I was pleased that every time I went into a record shop (which I did a lot in those days) someone was buying a copy of Hounds of Love.

Not sure that re-recording stuff is a good strategy - can't think of a time it's actually worked - but more power to her. Good to hear she's recording fresh stuff, too.
posted by Grangousier at 6:05 AM on May 5, 2011


But when people start talking about her music like it's holy writ, like it's a psalm or a blessing... Well, I'm not about to claim divinity.

Eh, every musician has their rabid fanbase, though. They were talking about Bjork, but a quote I saw in a review summed it up nicely: "There are those who like her, there are those who hate her, and then there are those who build shrines to her out of elven-green gauze. and velvet."

And one of the hallmarks of that kind of zeal is...you simply don't get that some people don't share it.

I tend to just smile and nod. It's a bit easier.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:13 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I make music and I've got friends who make music and there is nothing about any music ever that deserves an ounce of worship. ... I want everybody my age thinking they can be Kate Bush if they make the effort.

As solidly in the camp of "don't ever be intimidated about creating stuff" as I am, I get really tired of people trying to tell other people how to enjoy whatever they like to consume, too. There are a lot of things to enjoy and ways to enjoy them, and I don't see what's wrong with most of them as long as people aren't stalking the musicians personally.

I'm nervous to tell people I don't know Drake well, because half the time I get this incredulous stare and this weird kind of condescension, like it's an affront that I don't know the guy.

If my experience is any guide, you'll age out of this eventually. When you get to about 40, people start being amazed you can keep up with any new music at all.
posted by immlass at 6:21 AM on May 5, 2011


Yeah, I just don't see the conflict between saying that we experience a work in transcendent ways and seeing the artist as a professional who puts in the hours (and the shitload of crap) necessary to develop the work. It doesn't require much cognitive dissonance to switch between my role as a worshiping fan, and as a wannabe musician who tears songs down into their individual parts to see how they work.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:49 AM on May 5, 2011


It is possible to appreciate Kate Bush sans idolatry while recognizing that even if you scribble songs daily, play your fingers to stumps, get mentored by a dude with a fancy floating studio and more connections than Ma Bell, take all the interpretive dance classes the adult learning annex has to offer and so on, that she is sui generis. There is no rational explanation for her career. Her voice is polarizing, her writing is extraordinarily challenging, and her whole affect is hilariously easy to parody. She won't perform and she won't participate in near-obligatory celebrity culture. She entered pop culture in her teens yet somehow avoided exploitation and ruin. She is a woman, for fuck's sake, in an industry that is still powerfully informed by double standards regarding male vs. female musicianship and power.

So no, I don't worship her but I could not more highly respect her brains, talent, and longevity. She has been a source of inspiration and courage to me and countless other musicians, especially women and most especially the odd ones. The truth is most of us can work as hard as we can, yet never create something that speaks to others the way Kate Bush's work has, nor get within shouting distance of being her peer. The other truth is that is okay. Humility is not a four-letter word. It has at least three or four more letters than that.
posted by melissa may at 6:56 AM on May 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


I`m with Team Hippybear.
posted by SNACKeR at 7:01 AM on May 5, 2011


Rory, ya know... I read what you've written, and my heart breaks a little. And not just because I got a bit hyperbolic earlier in the thread about Kate Bush and how I've been listening to her since I was younger than you are right now.

But to feel you can't approach some of the best music from the past, regardless of what style or era, simply because you feel you've heard TOO MUCH about it from others?

Good grief.

How much could someone at your age possibly have heard about Led Zeppelin which could color your hearing of their music so much that you have to avoid it all together? What could anyone else possibly have shared which would overwhelm your personal subjective experience of listening to them? Or to any band or artist for that matter?

How can you even click-through into music threads here on MetaFilter if the simple act of hearing about music and musicians from others is going to destroy any chance you ever have of listening to that musician? I'd wall myself under a rock and avoid anything like what you're reading right now if it meant that somehow my ability to experience any kind of art were going to be diminished or even made verboten.

And, on the other hand, it sounds like you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of what I will call obscureism. Where you're really only happy listening to things which nobody else can discuss or share with you, always staying away from what others have thought is popular or important or formative during any era of history. Partly, it seems, because you are afraid of being tainted, but isn't that also a bit of an elitist mindset? Thinking that there's nothing others can or should say about music you want to digest because... why? There's nothing anyone else has to say which can or should be of any importance to you? That your experience is so special and sacred that it should never be sullied by anyone else's opinion or even historical context?

I wish you all the best as you work to create music of your own. But avoiding music of the past (or present) because your experience of it has somehow been sullied by what others have written or said about it? For most in the art appreciation world... that's called context. And most consider context to be enriching to the experience of art. Perhaps someday you'll feel that way, too.
posted by hippybear at 7:22 AM on May 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


It doesn't seem accurate to me to call Kate Bush's work progressive rock. There's a set of art-song values that I think are common to both, but that doesn't mean they're the same.

But avoiding music of the past (or present) because your experience of it has somehow been sullied by what others have written or said about it?

I've been thinking a lot about a related concept recently, one I've been calling "intermediation" in my head. It's the process of create narrative overlays for certain experiences... sometimes before those experiences are had. I've been thinking about it as it relates to religion, but I think it might apply here. Context is one thing, but I might agree with Rory that at a certain level, music fans start to do something like this with the music they love.

I don't think the solution is to try to change the fans, though. It's still good to let them inform you, but take what they have to say with a grain of salt and let your own ears and experiences lead you where they can.
posted by weston at 7:35 AM on May 5, 2011


How much could someone at your age possibly have heard about Led Zeppelin which could color your hearing of their music so much that you have to avoid it all together? What could anyone else possibly have shared which would overwhelm your personal subjective experience of listening to them? Or to any band or artist for that matter?

Because -- to use the word you yourself introduce -- it's called context.

There are kids in every high school who have been holding up Zepplin as demigods since 1968. That in and of itself creates a context. And no matter how good Zepplin can be, if in the back of your head it reminds you of Hank Siviski who always used to wait after school and beat you up because he always seemed to have "D'yer Maker" blasting from his pickup while he was giving you an atomic wedgie, you're gonna have that as a context.

Cut the guy some slack.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:46 AM on May 5, 2011


Well, I think that we fundamentally disagree about the transcendental possibility the very best music can entail. I disagree that music of Bush is simply that of a "27-year-old girl" (I think you meant to say "woman") with particular skills and interests. In her case--and in the case of many, many other artists--the end product is greater than the sum of its parts.

I also approach notions of worship and spirituality from a very different angle than you do--I don't think that such acts demean music or subjugate the mortals who listen to such music. Again, I see a transcendent impulse in these kinds of nigh-sacred experiences.

I understand that, as a musician, you like to think of a great artist in terms of their easily-delineated qualities, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Creation is draining business, and giving yourself ways to make even the Best seem attainable is an admirable and useful strategy. But that doesn't mean that, because of your approach, all music should turn into "product of Kate Bush, aged 27, musical instruments as follows..." That's a really, really depressing way to critically approach art. It even looks like turning art into author, and that's something that I--in the realm of literary criticism--strive to avoid.

I worry that the more effort we put into casually liking things, the more difficult it becomes for other people to connect to either us or to the music.

Finally, I just don't understand this viewpoint at all. Maybe it has to do with personality, or the kinds of people you hang out with? Because when I'm really, really excited about music, I don't sneer at others who might want to get into it. I foist the music on them, and say, "Man, have you heard Joni sing 'Rainy Night House' on Miles of Aisles? Have you listened to Donovan's 'Curry Land'?" etc. etc.

The undertone of this attitude seems to be a dismissal of religious or spiritual connection, either to things, ideas, creations, people. I find that troublesome, and unfortunate. There are of course plenty of bad examples (cults, mostly, and hypocrites), but feeling a sacred connection isn't intrinsically bad. I feel this way when I'm in a forest surrounded by ancient trees, for example. YMMV.
posted by nonmerci at 7:48 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I worry that the more effort we put into casually liking things, the more difficult it becomes for other people to connect to either us or to the music.

Jumping back in mostly because I was planning on blogging about this today.

For what it's worth, I don't have a dog in this fight; commented here initially because I have a vested personal interested in copyright battles with the Joyce estate, not because I'm a fan of Kate Bush. In fact, though I have friends who love her, and though I'm pretty sure I own a cassette tape of one of her albums, I don't think I even listened to it all-the-way-through before deciding it wasn't for me.

But anyway, no, another person's "worship" of Kate Bush shouldn't pose a problem in connecting to either that person, or Bush's music. In fact, I think that's a pretty crummy attitude--the more I've thought about passion and interest and coolness the more I've seen how my own life has only been ever significantly derailed by arguments that my passions needed to be dampened. And this goes way back: I've always been an obsessive kid, from a very young age. And while I'm sure that my parents had good reason for telling me I was obsessive (I would have temper tantrums when I missed The Super Mario Brothers Super Show), it made me feel very, very self-conscious for liking what I liked, hyper-aware of how these passions came across to others. I'd be pulled in two directions; on the one hand, I'd be, say, bringing biographies of the Beatles to school with me every day, and, on the other, hiding them behind my text books.

I think they were trying to help. Having a fourteen-year-old daughter who wants to dress up as one of the Tenctonese from Alien Nation is alarming, and I was expending all my energy and money on buying fiction and guidebooks about Star Trek until the Internet came along, at which point I was expending all of my time on it. And all of this might have been off-putting in some way to outsiders, especially outsiders who want to only approach topics at arm's length, with a certain amount of distance.

When it comes down to it, I'm fine with people who want to do that. Hell, I'm fine with people not liking things, even the things I love (there is plenty that I don't love). But why do you need to worry about someone else's enthusiasm? Why should that be a barrier to you, for anything? More, why do you need to imply (and you do--"That's something I worry about with Kate Bush, too, because certainly she has that same ability to arouse obsession, and about the Internet in general. How much is self-growth, and how much is self-obsession, and how much does it detract from other things? What would those other things be?") that both they and the world would be better without that pesky enthusiasm, that then they'd love other things, better things, things more worthy of their time?

That kind of lip curling is like the adult equivalent of elementary school bullying--like tearing up some kid's comic strips because he's a nerd. It's taken me a long time--longer than Bradbury's week--to realize that my passions have been the best thing for me in terms of enriching my creativity and enriching my life. Whatever, you don't need to love Kate Bush, or Buck Rogers, or whatever. You can even talk about why! But basing those criticisms on the enthusiasm of others is lame-o trifling. No one here seems particularly embarrassed by their enthusiasm for Kate Bush. You shouldn't be, either.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:04 AM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


if you asked an LCD Soundsystem or Xiu Xiu fan to help you get into their music, you'd get sneered at

I feel like music nerds are always happy to run your ear off about their favorite bands. Maybe we should get badges or something? Like, "Ask me about LOOM LCD Soundsystem and/or Xiu Xiu!"
posted by en forme de poire at 11:14 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Both artists deserve better than a facile comparison of their gifts and achievements.

While I did pretty much toss off my first comparison, I did in fact buy all of Tori's albums up through From the Choirgirl Hotel as well as all the singles and B-sides and more than a few concert bootlegs, only to discover that everything I loved about Tori's music –from the blend of otherworldliness and earthiness to the character-driven songwriting to the voice itself – was also present in Kate Bush's work, and that Kate Bush did it better.

I know plenty of music critics, amateur and professional alike, have made facile comparisons about Tori Amos being a second-rate Kate Bush knock-off without being particularly knowledgable about either. The thing is, though, while that comparison might be facile and oversimplified, it's not quite wrong, either.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:33 AM on May 5, 2011


I feel this way when I'm in a forest surrounded by ancient trees, for example.

Or listening to Kate Bush.
posted by New England Cultist at 12:53 PM on May 5, 2011


Like, "Ask me about LOOM LCD Soundsystem and/or Xiu Xiu!"

The Air Force! The Air Force! The album functions as a fully-unified PTSD Fever Dream! It's great!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:14 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: a fully-unified PTSD Fever Dream
posted by hippybear at 1:23 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


if in the back of your head it reminds you of Hank Siviski who always used to wait after school and beat you up ...

I thought Rory was talking about the intellectual context of having read too much rock criticism myself. But the point is well taken, which is why some of us are baffled and more or less offended by the suggestion that the emotional contexts which make us love/worship Kate Bush (or other artists) are somehow wrong and/or detrimental to us.
posted by immlass at 2:46 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


First, I wonder sometimes if a part of hipster backlash is a reaction to a perceived "cult of content", where people attach themselves so solidly to the music that they like that it stops letting people get in. I think it was Lovecraft here, commenting in the metal thread a couple of days ago, who suggested that if you asked an LCD Soundsystem or Xiu Xiu fan to help you get into their music, you'd get sneered at. As a fan of both those bands I'd like to think that this is more perception than reality — but I don't know. Certainly I know people who've been assholes when I told them I didn't listen to Beirut, or that I don't much like Bon Iver. I feel that way with a lot of mainstream pop, too: I'm nervous to tell people I don't know Drake well, because half the time I get this incredulous stare and this weird kind of condescension, like it's an affront that I don't know the guy.

I had never listened to any of these bands until 5 minutes ago, and only heard of one of them. Which is not to say I don't listen to any new music, or that I don't like any of it (indeed, I was quite taken with what I just listened to). But being 40, keeping up with what's current just doesn't seem all that important any more. If it's sufficiently cool, I'll hear it sooner or later anyway. It can be sooner as easily as later; my wife stumbled across Adele before she had made any impact in the US, so we got to enjoy a live performance of the first album from about 4 feet away in what was essentially a pub gig for $10.

In the meantime the extra space in my listening schedule has given me more time for things like opera, or playing music at home, or just listening to my environment instead of always needing a structured soundtrack. I don't enjoy music any less than I did before - it's as rich and satisfying an experience as it ever was. It's just no longer the most fascinating thing in my life or the de facto social currency. The other thing about getting older is that if you have decent taste and still enjoy new stuff, over time you end up knowing so many excellent-yet-obscure artists/bands/labels/entire genres that you become impervious to attacks from earnest young music critics, DJs and so on.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:27 PM on May 5, 2011


I'm with Hippybear, listen to what makes you happy. This means we have space in our household for Mrs arcticseal's love of all things 80's pop, particularly Duran Duran. It also means I get to listen to Kate Bush and MBV whenever I want, I may just have to wear earphones.
posted by arcticseal at 4:24 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So when people sanctify music (and this doesn't only apply to Bush), in part it feels like a fuck-you-don't-try: "The only way you get to write songs like this are if you've been touched by God, and kid, you're hardly Godtouched."

IMO there are people who are simply geniuses at what they do, Malcolm Gladwell be damned. Kate Bush is one. All of us know other musicians or artists or talents we hold dear who have similar genius. I sanctify music because it still touches my soul in a way that nothing else does, and it's one of last primal areas of my life that doesn't get to be warped by congealed bitterness, old-man curmudegonliness, and corrosive cynicism. Yes, perhaps the adulation is a bit much. So is the adulation that most people have for anything that inspires them, makes them lift beyond their own mortal boundaries. The "fuck-you-don't-try" aspect is something else. I don't know what to say about that except that when you sense that from people's adulation of creative endeavors, it may be their shit that's involved. It's certainly not anything that's inherent to the music -- even if the musician is saying "fuck you" every time she records a note, the music that emerges is beyond the "fuck you" (or whatever other intention the musician had) as soon as someone else hears it. Or maybe I'm just old and don't realize that music has become so ossified in perpetual genre trench warfare that I don't really know what's going on and am living in some hippy-dippy fantasy where everybody can still find something to enjoy anew in the world even when they're old and grouchy.
posted by blucevalo at 6:23 PM on May 5, 2011


To me, this still seems like a false conflict that I can't say I've ever experienced. I've participated in the sausage-making of critically analyzing many of the big names in classical music, marking up scores with annotations in pencil, and practicing the heck out of key passages (although I was never any good at it.) But still, the right performance in the right place and the right time can inspire passion and mystical ecstasy.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:51 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think this thread needs a parody of Kate Bush.

I adore KB, but she isn't god.
posted by QIbHom at 7:33 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not sure if anyone is still following this thread or not, but NPR has a "First Listen" page up for Kate's Director's Cut. It's the entire album available for a limited time for free online listening. Enjoy!
posted by hippybear at 7:29 AM on May 16, 2011


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