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Monday, August 18, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #9 - Happy

“I have been genuinely touched by the sense of anticipation I've felt from people. I feel really privileged that people have been waiting.”

Good things come to those who wait. Never has that proverb felt truer than on 31 August 2005 when, after twelve long years, EMI announced that Kate Bush would be releasing a new album. More than that, it was going to be a double album! It was called Aerial and we only had to wait another two and a bit months till we got our hands on it. There was also a single, King Of The Mountain, which would be out in late October. Those two months dragged by so slowly...

In the event we got to hear the single much sooner than that. It's world premiere was on Ken Bruce's morning show on BBC Radio 2, Wednesday 21 September. I was meant to be at work, but there was no way on earth I was missing the chance to hear the first new Kate Bush song in over a a decade. I had a "meeting" I told my boss. I didn't tell him the meeting was in my living room with Radio 2...

I've tried before to describe the feeling of of hearing a new Kate Bush song for the first time. This time the anticipation was even more intense, given the long, long wait. Every sense on high alert, every nerve ending tingling. Your heart beats faster, you have to control your breathing. It is like waiting for the most amazing surprise gift, with all the anxieties that go along with that. What is it? Will you like it? Did they keep the receipt? Ok, maybe not exactly like that. It's impossible to explain unless there's an artist you love that much, when hearing their latest material will forever alter the soundtrack to your life.

Suddenly the song was announced in Ken's soothing brogue and the first notes appeared. The opening was wonderfully eerie, spooky even. Then Kate started singing... or actually mumbling. Ok, that's odd. Then a kicking drum beat takes us into the chorus. Elvis! Oh, ok, the song's about Elvis and she's impersonating his singing style. Brilliant. Would never have guessed that one in a million years. Rosebud! Hmm, a Citizen Kane reference... another exquisite Bushian mystery to unravel...

Repeated listens that night revealed more layers. In a long telephone conference with Amanda we attempted to decode some of Kate's cryptography. Thankfully, this was Kate's first release in the Internet age, and fans swooped onto online forums to swap theories and interpretations about the song's meaning. Of course the wonderful thing about art is that there are no wrong interpretations. Everyone will respond to a piece in their own way and take their own meaning from it. I quickly understood King Of The Mountain was Kate exploring what it must have been like to have been as famous as Elvis and have to deal with all the weirdness that comes with celebrity and riches on that scale. That she imagined the King living on happily in anonymity says a great deal about how Kate herself views celebrity.

The single charted at number 4, a strong signal that it was not just the fans who had missed Kate. It was a powerful return after such a prolonged absence. Those twelve years melted away the second I heard that voice again. I was a happy man.

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1 comment:

  1. Suddenly the trivia of the world faded - Kate sang and life was sweet once more