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Sunday, July 27, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #31 - Running

After being pretty ubiquitous since her debut in 1978, the sudden absence of Kate Bush through 1983 and 1984 led many to assume her career was on the rocks. Various bizarre rumours were in circulation: she'd ballooned in weight, moved to France, been dropped by EMI. In August 1985, NME even ran a "where are they now" article on Kate, but just days later that question would be decisively answered.

On that summer day in question, I was 14, and sat up in my bedroom on the third floor of our terraced house, probably mastering the intricacies of Kate's routine to The Dreaming, when I heard a screech coming from two floors down. My mother, who by this point was fully aware of my Kate-o-philia, was yelling "Kate Bush is on TV". I can still recall those 2.7 seconds it took me to descend two flights of stairs. My heart stopped beating and a rush of adrenalin propelled me down. What greeted me was quite literally beyond belief.

It was Kate! Live! Now! Really, really her. She was performing a new song. I knew it must be new, because I'd heard everything else she'd released. She was standing at a lectern, wearing a long, military style coat. She looked totally gorgeous. What was she singing about? She had her hand raised to make an oath. The band were dressed like Kate and in a V formation behind her. They were moving forward. The beat was insistent. The effect was dramatic and menacing and I just stood in the middle of the living room transfixed. Something about deals with God, hills, exchanging the experience. Then Kate removed a bow from her back, took an arrow from Paddy's quiver and knelt to the ground, aiming at the sky. Every hair on my body stood erect. Every goose was pimpled. I finally let out the breath I'd been holding for five, far too swift, minutes.

Oh, the agony and the ecstasy of that night. The record shops were closed. There was no Internet to find out what was going on. I didn't know any other Kate fans I could call. She was back! Out of nowhere. And all I could hear in my head was that insistent drumming, repeating over and over again. If only I'd had the presence of mind to press record on the video, but no, all I had was less than total recall of what had just passed.

The next morning I raced to my local record store and there on the counter was a special box with Kate's picture on it, filled with singles. The song was called Running Up That Hill and there she was on the cover, with the bow and arrow primed. My hands shook as I picked one up. It was a gatefold sleeve, the inside cover had the lyrics and Kate with her back to us, and words written across her arms and shoulders. It was a thing of beauty, an artefact to treasure. And there was a 12" single too! A first for Kate. It had an instrumental version and a remix that was about to blow my mind even more. More good news, there would be an album soon too. I raced home with my precious cargo and I don't think I surfaced from my room for a good few days, as I absorbed the joy of this surprise gift from Kate.

Over the next few weeks more joy, as the single climbed to number 3 on the charts, erasing the disappointments and silencing the doubters. The video was indescribably gorgeous. Kate and a male dancer wrapped around each other in choreography that was sensual and impressively elaborate. The final shot of Kate was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

Kate was back, and I only had to wait a few short weeks to have a whole new album to explore...

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