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Sunday, August 24, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #3 - Misty

If I had to choose just one song from Kate Bush's repertoire to illustrate why she is such a special artist, then I would select a song from 50 Words For Snow that carries all the hallmarks of her genius.

Misty is the tale of a woman who builds a snowman, only to find him come to life. Naturally she falls in love and they have a romantic encounter. There are so many remarkable things about this song, which runs to well over thirteen minutes. The legendary jazz drummer Steve Gadd's playing is extraordinary here, intertwining with Kate's piano, managing to sound both free-flowing and deliberate at the same moment. The song has no chorus, but repeating themes that grow in significance each time we hear them.

Kate delivers one of her greatest vocal performances, fully demonstrating that despite its drop in register, her voice has lost none of its power to interpret and emote. Every syllable is perfectly formed, yet there is a roughness to her voice, the touches of time, which just adds to its beauty.

The main reason though that I would choose this track to represent Kate, is it shows her abilities as a storyteller. As a writer, it can take me hundreds of words to achieve what Kate manages in a few dozen lines of verse. While naturally a great deal of attention is given to Kate's melodies, her lyrics are equally important and equally individual. She has honed her skills over the years, realising that the fewer words you need to convey a feeling, the more power it holds.

Here Kate makes us believe that snow can live and breathe, that it can hold us in its arms, drive us to love and to the edge of despair at its loss. It's a fantastical premise, but it never once feels silly or flippant in her hands. From the magic realism of the blood from a cut hand bringing the snowman to life, to the woman's searing grief at the loss of her Misty, it is the birth of a modern fairytale.

Kate commissioned a series of short animation segments for three of the tracks from 50 Words For Snow, the most elaborate of which was Mistraldespair, this gorgeous stop-motion piece made for Misty.

So after the excitement of getting two albums in one year, we all wondered what would happen next. Kate said she already had ideas for another album, that sounded promising. One thing was certain, she wasn't planning any live shows, as she told The Word magazine in their December 2011 issue:

"I guess I haven't ruled it out, because I did enjoy it, but I have no intention of doing anything live because it wouldn't work with how my life is at the moment. Never say never, but I've got no plans."

Well that seemed pretty clear and definitive...

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