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Friday, August 22, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #5 - Directing

"Sometimes stepping back one step can allow you to take two forward, and in a funny way that's what's happened."

Kate Bush decided to give herself a "do-over" and re-record a number of songs from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes to create a new album, Director's Cut. Perhaps we have Bertie to thank for Kate opening up to her past, surely he must have wanted to see and hear his mother's work?

Whatever the trigger was, I believe this project may have been pivotal in Kate's subsequent decision to return to the live stage after 35 years. Previously, she had quickly dismissed her past material, like most artists only hearing what she considered its flaws. Now she realised that she could reclaim her work and revise it, allowing it to live again in the present. In particular there are two tracks on Director's Cut that lead me to believe that while we may know the songs Kate chooses to perform in Before The Dawn, it might take us a while to recognise some of them.

The original This Woman's Work was a fairly traditional Kate composition; piano-centred, with subtle orchestration and a perfect pop length of 3' 35''. The director's cut added three minutes, lost the piano and the strings and replaced them with delicate, barely there electronica. This is a remake, not a re-edit. While obviously still about the same subject matter, it evokes a totally different mood and emotional response to the original. It is reflective and soulful, a meditation rather than the dramatic underscoring of the original. It is a clear symbol of how Kate has evolved as an artist, but it is also a beacon showing that her past, present and future are part of a continuum.

Moments Of Pleasure was also a traditional Kate song in its original form. To Kate this is a celebratory song about the joy that loving other human beings brings into our lives, while recognising that this opens us up to equally great hurt. This director's cut does not at first appear to be quite as radical. The piano is still there at the centre of things, though now it is softer, pauses and plays at tangents. Kate chooses not to sing the line "just being alive can really hurt", replacing it with a choral hum from an ethereal choir. It is a deconstruction of the original, respectful of its heritage, but brave enough to jettison everything but the core elements of the song that are needed to convey its meaning.

It's possible that Kate may have decided to similarly reimagine other songs from her past for her live concerts. If Director's Cut proves anything, it is that she is more than comfortable with the artist she has become, separate from trends, image, expectations. If Kate decides to revisit her older material in the shows, I expect she will want it to reflect who she is now, not try and recapture an echo of her past. Am I the only one excited by that prospect? Given the warm reception given to Director's Cut, I imagine I'm not...

If you would like to know my thoughts on the rest of Director's Cut, then read my earlier blog where I compare each track with its forebear: Unfinished Business.

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