Kate Bush – “Running Up That Hill”

These days Kate Bush is cited as an influence by the unlikeliest of people from Lee Perry to John Lydon, as well as numerous younger artists but, following her initial success and run of hits, she seemed to disappear for a couple of years. My friend Evelyn and I adopted her during this period, when she was regarded (by our peer group at least) almost as a novelty act, harking back to the then decade of embarrassment, the seventies. We had an interest in the unfashionable that was part affection, part affectation, but our admiration of Kate was sincere. We thought of her as a kindred spirit and imagined that we would one day share a loft in New York with her and Suzanne Vega, lounging on big velvet cushions, drinking wine and writing songs together. (I think Eve’s moved on, but I am still hopeful.)

Kate Bush - "Running Up That Hill"

Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill

The premiere of the new single (on the Wogan show) was a major event in our small town lives and days in advance we arranged to watch it at our respective houses and then discuss afterwards (over a landline, on rotary dial telephones!) Alongside the building excitement, we could not quite acknowledge that we were slightly worried for Kate in case the record was a misfire. (Kite was never a favourite, and we did not quite share her enthusiasm for the sound of plastic piano.)

However, after the performance I felt like a cult member when the aliens actually land or the world really ends or whatever. Evelyn and I were overjoyed and truly believed that we were on some level responsible for Kate’s triumphant comeback, like when we decided to support Meadowbank Thistle for a carry-on and about a year later they were promoted to the First Division!

She looked elegant in an over-sized flowing coat (with the obligatory shoulder pads) and with her hippy hair transformed into an impressive mullet. The song was far beyond our expectations, Kate’s distinctive vocal paired with innovative effects and a much more powerful sound than before.

The Hounds of Love album, when it followed, was magnificent, with great sweeping colourful arrangements and brilliantly theatrical lyrics. The genius is that it was a Trojan horse, so unexpectedly modern in technique, but full of aerie-faerie nonsense and even a mini concept album – re-assertion dressed up as re-invention.

There are Kate Bush tracks I like more, but this 80s 45 is one I will always remember for marking her elevation from the status of eccentric to that of musical genius.

Wendy

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