October 20, 2005

Come Home, Heathcliff

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I always heard about Kate Bush being considered one of the most influential female artists during the modern era of pop/rock music, but never understood what her appeal was. After hearing her 1985 “classic” Hounds of Love, I found no reason for her to have risen above any of the other feculence popular during the mid ’80s. But when I recently stumbled upon her debut 1978 single, “Wuthering Heights,” I found myself spending hours absorbing as much of her pre-1985 material as possible.

I now have a tremendous crush on the beauty that Tori Amos owes her entire career to and feel confident my theory that good artists purposely created bad music in the mid ’80s is further validated. Just check out the cover to Bob Dylan’s 1985 Empire Burlesque – no need to even listen to the music – if you needed any more proof.

Listening to an early Kate Bush album brings you far, far, away to a dreamworld filled with pixies and love and Peter Pan and pure hearts. Nowhere was this world better realized than on her 1978 debut album, The Kick Inside, which is like the musical equivalent of a four-year-old girl’s imaginary tea parties.

In fact, she was still a teenager by the time of its release, having secured a record contract at 16 after Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour was overcome with fascination by her musical fairytales. The Kick Inside achieves an unparalleled level of romanticism; her hopeful and magical take on love is expressed on every one of the 357 high notes she hits on the album. Her trademark song, “Wuthering Heights,” is the most efficient place to begin, since one will determine whether they are in love with or despise Kate Bush after hearing the first line of the song.

Based on Emily Bronte’s masterpiece, the song begins with Bush shattering glass singing, “Out on the wiley, windy moors / We’d roll and fall in green.” If you find yourself cringing during these first 15 seconds, you will likely remain locked in this position for the rest of your flirtation with Bush. “Wuthering Heights” and the rest of The Kick Inside display all of Bush’s trademarks: a literary consciousness; flourishing, heartfelt waves and the ability to successfully incorporate just about every eccentric vocal style you’ve never heard into each song.

Archived article by Jared Wolfe
Sun Staff Writer