Archive for the ‘Kate Bush’ Category
Kate Bush originally wanted to write a song that compiled excerpts from Molly Bloom’s closing soliloquy from Ulysses, but the Joyce estate stepped in and put the kibosh on the idea. So she wrote this, which is a kind of paraphrasing, and close enough. Happy Bloomsday!
Kate Bush described The Dreaming as her “she’s gone mad” album, and putting it on for the first time, once you get steady on your pins again, you might think it’s a pretty fair portrait of a crack-up. The music is huge—a note on the inner sleeve says to play the album loud—and piled high with clamorous sounds: rackety drums, pipes, didgeridoo, clanging piano, the screech of car brakes. After twenty-five years of listening to the record, I’m still picking out odd noises—was that a sheep’s bleat? The album is frightening, and on it, Kate sounds frightened. She sings, and sometimes shrieks—by the end of the final song, she’s braying like a donkey, literally—accompanied by background (and sometimes foreground) voices. The voices sound like they come from another world: ominous male choruses, sad and staticky answering machine messages, a mournful (and possibly dead) chorister. I’m playing The Dreaming right now, and I think it’s upsetting the dog.
On the surface, The Dreaming resembles a collection of short stories. One song is about a bank robbery, another is about the white man’s destruction of the Aborigines, a third is about Houdini. Kate narrates these story-songs from the point of view of different characters, and the music varies wildly from song to song, but in each song she seems to be asking the same questions. Not just asking, beseeching. The questions sound dire. How do I get where I want to go? What if it vanishes before I get there? Is the journey going to be painful? (Because if it is I really can’t be bothered.) Can I get there by blowing up a safe? Can I turn into something else—a bird, the wind, a mule—and slip free? The Dreaming is full of images of entrapment: being tangled in gaffer’s tape, bound in chains, locked in a house or a body or a self. But there’s a key, right on the center of the album cover, the key that Kate’s passing to Houdini. It’s hidden on her tongue, and it might mean to speak, or to sing.
The Dreaming is timeless. Its accompanying videos, like this one, aren’t, but they have a weird, comic charm all their own.