I Wanna Be Kate: The Kate Bush Primer

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
If you're a long-time fan of Kate Bush, very little has surprised you more than the sudden popular resurgence of Kate. Driven by the use of her song, Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God), the only two things that might be more surprising than Kate rocketing up the charts again is finding out that (1) she licensed the use of the music to Stranger Things, and (2) she she did so because she apparently really likes the show.

Now, what is a fan of Kate Bush to do with the sudden and unexpected rise of popularity? Sure, there is always the immediate thought that the new fans who just discovered her haven't earned the right to be fans, but that is not a generous reaction. Or maybe, instead, you start hearing her song Night of the Swallow in your head, except you also juxtapose "An African or European swallow," because your brain just doesn't work right.

Well, instead I'm offering some support for those people who just aren't familiar with the works of Kate Bush. You say to yourself, "Self, that song sounds pretty nifty, but what else does this singer have?"

To those people I can give you the good news and the bad news- the good news is that she is an artist with a fairly limited number of releases over a long career, and who (famously) stopped touring for a nice thirty-five year break, so there isn't a lot of material you have to dig through. The bad news is that she is spectacular, and you'll wish there was more.

Now there are a few things to understand about Kate Bush before diving too far into her work. The first is that she is definitely not a singles artist. While she has a few songs that can be divorced from the album context, like Running Up That Hill and Withering Heights, most of her work is much better absorbed in the album context. Second, she has three different "periods" that roughly divide her work-

Early Kate (two albums): 1978-1979
This is two albums- The Kick Inside and Lionheart.
Most people who are really into Kate Bush love these early albums, but they are usually a bit more difficult to get into as a starting point. They are more stripped down and piano-heavy, as Kate Bush did not have the full creative control or had started using samples as she did shortly thereafter.


Classic Kate: (four albums) 1980-1989
Never for Ever, The Dreaming, Hounds of Love, and The Sensual World.
These four albums are a murderer's row, and arguably stand up to any other artist's four album streak. The Dreaming is, IMO, the masterpiece of the bunch (#MAXIMUMKATE) but the other three are the most accessible.

Late Kate (3 1/2 albums): 1990-present
The Red Shoes, Aerial, Director's Cut, and 50 Words for Snow.
Director's Cut is just new versions of her older songs; the other three albums tend to be a little more divisive, with many fans saying they love them, or not, depending on the day. Think of Berlin-era Bowie.


So how do I get into Kate Bush?

This is advice I have previously given to friends, and it has worked pretty well. Think of it as ... Choose your own adventure.

1. Start with Hounds of Love. There is a transition - the album is actually two parts, one consisting of more popular songs, and the other consisting of more atmospheric songs loosely themed around the ocean and drowning (the transition occurs after the song Cloudbusting .... but you will know).

Now, how did you feel about the album?

A. I hated it! All of it.
Then you just won't like Kate Bush. Return to listening to Jock Rocks Vol. 2.

B. It was good, but I liked the first part a lot better than the second part.
Go to The Sensual World.

C. I liked all of it.
Go to Never for Ever.

D. It was all good ... but that second half was amazing!
Go to the Dreaming.


2. I listened to the next album you recommended. I'd like to hear more! What should I do?

A. Listen to the remaining Classic Kate Albums.
If you want more, go to B.

B. Listen to Aerial.
If you want more, go to C.

C. Listen to The Kick Inside.
If you want more, you can probably figure it out by now.


But wait, I can't listen to albums! Can you just post some Kate Bush videos?


Sigh Sure. In the spoilers.

 

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Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
….I’m sure there’s a story there!
Not very dramatic ... :D

My wife to be wasn't keen on doing a wedding waltz at all, so I figured I needed to really find something that would bowl her over ... so I grabbed her hand one night and said "let's waltz" ... and played Army Dreamers.

Clinched the deal there and then. :) Kate Bush is my absolute favourite. Hounds of Love is a classic but I think I love The Dreaming the most. Sometimes I play The Sensual World just to remember when I heard This Woman's Work the first time.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
You titled your thread about Kate Bush with a Ben Folds reference.

Simon Cowell Reaction GIF by America's Got Talent
 

payn

Legend
Just this weekend at my cabin a buddy was telling me about how this song nobody knew about was amazing and thanks to Stanger Things people finally know about it...

He isnt a musician by trade, but plays a mean guitar and has a love of music his whole life. It was kinda funny. I just sat back and listened to his story because more folks enjoying Kate Bush is a good thing.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Just this weekend at my cabin a buddy was telling me about how this song nobody knew about was amazing and thanks to Stanger Things people finally know about it...

He isnt a musician by trade, but plays a mean guitar and has a love of music his whole life. It was kinda funny. I just sat back and listened to his story because more folks enjoying Kate Bush is a good thing.

Thing is … start a conversation about Kate and you’ll learn she has fans in all places.

 

Janx

Hero
On the other side of the spectrum. I had never heard the song or heard of Kate Bush.

Nice enough song. I just wasn't into pop culture much once I got to select my own music to play
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
To your spoilers I would add the Peter Gabriel/Kate Bush duet "Don't Give Up." It's a great entry point to her etheric vocals. A top 10 song in 6 different decades makes for a hell of a career.

I came here to post the same thing lol. Can't mention Kate Bush's songs and omit this one, even if she's not the main singer.
 

Ryujin

Legend
On the other side of the spectrum. I had never heard the song or heard of Kate Bush.

Nice enough song. I just wasn't into pop culture much once I got to select my own music to play
Depending upon where you were, Kate Bush wasn't really what would be termed "pop culture." She was mostly played, in North America, by oddball FM stations and college radio. Top 40 stations gave her a skip. If anything made it to those stations it would have been "Babushka", largely because the music video made the rounds on MTV and "The New Music" (a TV show that largely covered Alt and fringe music, in Toronto). Point of Interest: One of the two hosts of "The New Music" was JD Roberts, aka John Roberts who is currently a reporter for Fox News.
 

Ryujin

Legend
I came here to post the same thing lol. Can't mention Kate Bush's songs and omit this one, even if she's not the main singer.
I think that really raised her profile, at the time. Around here a lot of people who had never heard of her, were suddenly wondering who she was. And that's given that Toronto was a major music centre at the time.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
I'm familiar with her YouTube vsingles not her albums.

Saw the Wuthering Heights video a decade ago and along with Running Up That Hill and Babooshka the Xbox soits them out when I let it play.

Bit before my time I was a kid. But she's good not my type of music generally but I enjoy those three songs and other random ones.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Still love the retelling of the story of Heathcliff and Catherine - written when she wad 18 it made her the first female artist in the UK to achieve a number-one single with a self-penned song.
I‘d just watched a Wuthering Heights TV adaption with my mother when the song was released onto the moors
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Another great artist I've meant to dig more into for many years. I grew up with some exposure as my mother was a huge fan of Hounds of Love, and my brother and I were passionate fanatics about Peter Gabriel's So from a young age.

Thanks for this post. :)
 


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