In a BBC documentary marking Bush’s return to live shows in 2014, comedian and actor Steve Coogan came closest to identifying what sets Bush apart from nearly all popular musicians.
“Byron once said about Keats, Keats writes about he imagines, I write about what I live,” Coogan noted.
“Most rock and roll people write about their lives in some way and Kate Bush is more like Keats because she writes about what she imagines.”
That Coogan placed Bush in the context of two of the world’s greatest poets should come as no surprise. Bush has been borrowing from literature since she came forward as a 19-year-old with her take on Emily Bronte’s 175-year-old novel, Wuthering Heights†
Running up that hill fits that description exactly. It’s one of the reasons the makers of Weird stuff wanted to use the song as an important part of the arc of the season.
In fact, many of Bush’s songs fit into this kind of ethereal framework, including: To breathe (about an unborn child heading into a nuclear winter), the whole second side of the dogs of love album (where she sings like a woman fighting to survive in an ocean) to Heads We Dance (about a woman who dances with a man who turns out to be Adolf Hitler).
While many contemporary pop stars rely heavily on their real-world experiences and relationships (think Taylor Swift), Kate Bush sings about a woman whose son was killed in a fight (army dreamers) or as a man who cannot help his partner who is going through a dangerous birth (This woman’s work†
Bush isn’t afraid of sex either. And she sings about it in a way that defies every trend of the past five decades. On her first album she had a song with the line “that feeling of sticky love inside”. In her latest album of new material, more than a 13-minute song, she documents a relationship with a snowman.
But nothing beats Flower of the mountain†
The song is Bush’s version of James Joyce’s Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy Ulysses† It follows her raging mind to the point of her orgasm, ending with the words “yes, I said yes, I will yes, ooo yes”.
Bush had wanted to use Joyce’s original words, but was rejected by his estate. In early 2010, the estate changed his mind and Bush used the great Irishman’s own words about Molly Bloom.
There are plenty of songs about female sexuality that have charted over the years – Cyndi Lauper’s Omniscient she bop and Chrissy Amphlett’s I touch myself – but none have gone quite where Molly Bloom ends Flower of the mountain†
Sean Twomey, who is curator katebusnews.comused a short podcast last week to note Bush’s re-entry into popular culture.
He said the renewed interest in Bush confirmed something about the musician and the song.
“Nothing Else Really Sounds Like” Running up that hill† Nothing before and really nothing after,” he said.
Her influence is everywhere in popular music today. At a concert over the weekend, Norwegian recording artist Aurora played a show in New York’s Central Park, standing in front of a lit circle—just as Bush had used during her live shows in the 1970s.
She wore a flowing dress that could have come straight out of Bush’s early ’80s videos, storming across the stage like Bush did when she sang like a bride whose groom is murdered on their wedding day (The Wedding List†
And her pre-show mixtape featured the original Wuthering Heights, prompting new Kate Bush fans in the crowd to dance as if they were a ghost on an English moor.
Life as a Kate Bush fan is not easy. After a 12 year gap between albums The red shoes and aerial photoshe took six more to release the next.
Bush fans are a bit like those who believe that the thylacine survives in the wilds of Tasmania or that there is a monster swimming around Loch Ness.
Her only posting on her website, until last week, was from Christmas 2021 when she noticed she had recently seen a rare type of bird near her home.
But on Friday she broke her silence by writing about the revival of Run up that hill.
“You may have heard that the first part of the fantastic, gripping new series from Weird stuff was recently released on Netflix. It contains the song Running up that hill which is given a whole new lease of life by the young fans who love the show. I love it too.”
Perhaps we should consider ourselves lucky that younger fans discovered Bush through Run up that hill. What would have happened if they had found her song for the first time? get out of my house (inspired by Stephen King’s) The shining) where she brays like a donkey?
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