I have included songs from Kate Bush on this blog before. But when I was writing about David Bowie’s album ‘Hunky Dory’ recently, I started thinking about his many changes of style, his clear diction, and his use of mime, dance, and striking outfits in his excellent promotional videos. Then Kate Bush came to mind, for exactly the same reasons.
Few female singers in Britain have enjoyed such a long career, or been so highly regarded by critics as well as fans. Her songwriting skills are self-evident, and her changes of style and appearance have guaranteed to keep our interest, despite her signature long absences from the music scene. Like Bowie, Madonna, and a few others, she recognised the power of the pop video from the early days, and used it to tremendous affect when promoting her songs. In many examples, we didn’t see Kate just singing the song, we saw a small feature film, with the music as background.
Kate will be 60 years old this summer, and she had her first big hit as long ago as 1978. When she was only 13 years old, she wrote the wonderful song ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’, which featured on her debut album, and was the second single to make the charts. And that’s not a typo. She was just 13. This was not a childhood prodigy, but an example of the musical genius that was to follow.
In all that time, she has only released ten albums. By some standards, that is not much of a legacy for such a long and continuing career. But the quality of the songs is timeless, and many are still breathtaking to hear, (and to watch) even after forty years.
Kate also made appearances in some films, and provided vocals for other artists, including Peter Gabriel. In 1986, she performed a duet with Gabriel for his album ‘So’. That amazing song, ‘Don’t Give Up’ has gone on to inspire many people, and the causes that support them.
Since her last album release in 2011, she has returned to the touring circuit for the first time in 35 years, with sell-out performances in 2014, and rumours of more tours to come. She is still working, still writing songs, and sounds as good as ever. An English treasure, undoubtedly.