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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #22 - Composing

Given Kate Bush's interest in the visual side of film-making, it is no surprise to find she has contributed to a number of movie soundtracks.


Her earliest dabble was singing The Magician, a Maurice Jarre composition for the 1979 film The Magician Of Lublin. It's a peculiar little number, with a hallmark vocal from Kate.

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That same year she turned down the chance to sing the theme song for the latest James Bond movie, Moonraker. I still wake up crying about that one. Then Kate recorded the theme for Terry Gilliam's movie Brazil, a version of the classic Ary Barroso number, with lush orchestration from Michael Kamen. Sadly, it went unused in the film, but later emerged on a re-release of the soundtrack. Kate gives a sultry and poignant performance.

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Guest vocals are all very well, but it was clear Kate should be composing music for film. Wuthering Heights and The Infant Kiss are effectively post-dated movie theme songs, based on visual stimuli that inspired her. The first such assignment Kate accepted was to create a song for Nicolas Roeg's 1987 movie Castaway, where Oliver Reed lures Amanda Donohoe to a desert island. The song Kate delivered perfectly captures the sense of two strangers feeling their way into an intimate relationship, knowingly titled Be Kind To My Mistakes.

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Kate's greatest movie song is undoubtedly the piece she wrote to accompany the pivotal scene in John Hughes' She's Having A Baby. As Kristy suffers a traumatic labour, her husband Jake paces outside, hoping and praying. and regretting his selfish behaviour. The song Kate wrote, which perfectly captured the emotions onscreen, is considered by many to be her finest composition: This Woman's Work.


Kate's final original song for a movie to date has an interesting evolution. Disney approached Kate, asking if she would write a song for their first computer-animated film, Dinosaur. Kate delivered the song and it was used in the version shown to test audiences, but subsequently dropped. It's thought Disney wanted changes and Kate said "no, thank you". So that was the end of that... or was it?

In 2007, Kate contributed the closing theme for The Golden Compass, the film adaptation of the first part of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. The song, an ode to the heroine, Lyra, is a restrained and haunting piece. Kate is accompanied by a very minimal backing track and the choir of Magdalen College, Oxford. Reportedly Kate had very short notice and pulled the track together in just 10 days. How was she able to do that, you may ask? Well it turns out that Dinosaur song didn't go to waste after all. It lately appeared on the internet and turned out to have a spooky resemblance to Lyra.

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Given Kate's obvious knack for marrying music and visuals, we can only hope further contributions to the movies are to come. Is it too much to hope that Kate will one day join Dame Shirley and Adele as a Bond diva? Fingers crossed.


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