It was 1979 and, after what seemed like a long absence to an 8 year-old, Kate was back in the charts with another song that completely fascinated me. It had a hypnotic, twirling, spinning introduction that led into a verse of strange foreboding. Then there was this incredible, explosive chorus, where Kate seemed ecstatic and amazed, only for that foreboding feeling to return once more. What could it all mean? Who was all alone on the stage that night? Why wouldn't they make The Sweeney? What was so unbelievable?
Despite my pleading, nobody bought me the single, so I had to make do with a poor tape recording I'd made off the radio during the Top 40 countdown. I just couldn't understand what Kate was singing about, I needed to see the words written down. In those olden days, before the Internet, the only way to get song lyrics was to buy a music magazine, like Smash Hits. One afternoon on the way home from school, I found a magazine which had the words to this enigmatic wonder. Only slight problem... I had no money.
I knew it was wrong, but I just had to have that magazine, so I could listen to the song again and pour over the lyrics to unlock its meaning. I slid the magazine inside my navy blue Parka and tried to casually walk out of the shop. Clearly I was no master criminal in the making, as before I was even halfway to the door, I heard, "Here, are you going to pay for that?" Luckily, the kindly owner knew me and pretended to believe my tearful explanation that it was an accident. He put it under the counter and told me to come back and buy it when I'd got my pocket money. I was shaking like a leaf. I have never stolen another thing in my life.
That was the hold Kate's music had over me, I was willing to risk everything to unlock its secrets. It turns out the song's about an ageing thespian and a starlet who sleeps her way to the top: the perils of life as an actor. It would be years before I understood the Vaseline reference. That's probably just as well.
Oh, and it's still one of my absolute favourite Kate songs.
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