Jul 312020

I’ve been musing over Kate Bush all day, and not for the same reasons I used to. I was kind of on board with her for the first three albums, her stock was high if only for the memory of my grandma screaming and falling off her chair when she saw her on Top of the Pops doing “Wuthering Heights.” Priceless. A mate always bought the albums as soon as they were released and taped them for me, I found them recently and realised I had only listened to them up to Hounds of Love. I’ve no idea what stopped me at the time, we agreed about almost everything musically, it was as if I was in some way scared of hearing them, which makes as little sense now as it did then.

I’d be interested to hear whether any others gathered here have music which you actually own but have avoided listening to for reasons you’re unable to put a finger on, or is it just me?


  9 Responses to “Avoidance, or Beating Around the Bush”

  1. OK, me and my dust-gathering, little Kate Bush album collection, compiled when I was 19 to 20 years old, really miserable, and quickly put aside for good a couple years after that… I’m listening to The Dreaming, the one album I liked best during that 3-year stretch. I haven’t spun this since I was about 25, which for those of you keeping score at home, is a half a lifetime plus 1 dog year ago. Before I go any further, I’ll be clear that what I’m about to share will most likely be painful and embarrassing. If you’re uncomfortable with that stuff, stop reading now. If you thrive on other people’s discomfort, enjoy yourself, but lock the door.

    I may have gotten this album as part of what I call the Great Record Store Haul, in the days leading up to sophomore year of college. This is the time I was staying with my friend’s family outside of Chicago, and one of his high school friends gave us a 15-minute theft spree after he’d closed up the mall record store he was managing. He said they were running low on their anticipated theft budget for the month. The two of us came out of that mall at 10:20 pm carrying 76 albums between us. The release of The Dreaming would have lined up with my school’s late-September start date, and I don’t recall anyone turning me onto this album, not even the upperclassman friend of me and sammymaudlin who used to share his most tightly packed purple buds, stored in a tin cookie can under his desk, with us and turn us onto all kinds of great music that E Pluribus Gergely would not have liked, not even with those “primo” buds filling his lungs.

    Going back a few years earlier, my first exposure to Kate Bush was on Saturday Night Live. She was wearing a Danskin and those thick, wool socks that ballerinas wear when rehearsing in that mirrored room with the bars for stretching. If memory serves, she sang stretched atop the piano and may have worn Cats-like makeup. I didn’t dream this, did I? It was the most Femmezilla-frightening thing innocent teenage me had ever seen, making Joni Mitchell’s Danskin-donned appearance in The Last Waltz, a couple years earlier, seem as comfortable and inviting as a visit to my godmother’s house. Whatever song Bush sang on SNL – it may have been “Wuthering Heights,” made it even worse. (I never liked that song and those earlier albums even when I had a thing for The Dreaming and tried to like Hounds of Love more than I was cut out to like it.) Anyhow, that’s some important backstory.

    Whether I stole my copy of The Dreaming from that Libertyville, IL mall record store or actually bought it a few weeks later, I’m pretty sure I can recall what led me to take a chance on an artist who turned me off so royally the first time I saw her: Bush was good looking and she was presented in sepia tone on the album cover. I am a sucker for sepia-toned album covers, dating back to my childhood love for the s/t Band album. There can be no other explanation why I took a chance on that album.

    I’m pretty sure I was really high the first time I played the album. I used to be as high as possible back then from the hours of waking to sleeping. Right from the start of The Dreaming, I got a rush from the drums, which were heavily compressed (is that the effect?), like the drums on the…brace yourself, EPG…XTC albums I’d already deeply loved. Her singing and arrangement on The Dreaming were ridiculously dramatic, which made me uncomfortable, but occasionally excited me. I would have never thought this about myself then, but looking back on my life and knowing who I am today, I’m a bit of a drama queen. I’m no longer surprised when I like ridiculously dramatic things, like that movie Moulin Rouge, which I’d wished I could have been shot before having to watch, and then loved from start to finish.

    Getting back to the ridiculously dramatic singing, she layered her voice like crazy on The Dreaming. The album has a pulsating feel to it that went really good with all the drugs I was taking. I’m listening to it straight as Harry Nillson’s arrow as I type out these thoughts, but I still like the pulsating feel of the album. It gets under my skin, no matter how wrong I know it is to like this proggy stuff. It’s like being 13 again and getting turned on by the voyeuristic scenes in Straw Dogs, which you stumbled on while switching channels. You brain says, “This isn’t cool.” Not all regions of your body are aligned with that perspective. Sorry.

    During that brief spell of enjoying getting really high and spinning The Dreaming, I’d loved and I’d lost. I went to the brink of flunking out of college and did, in fact, blow a scholarship. The only thing I had going for me was the time that messing up so many other things in my life bought me for getting down to business with my band. My bandmates didn’t share my interest for The Dreaming, rightfully so – we were in business to rock hard – and I had no intention of trying to work that stuff into my band’s sound. I’d listen to it in private, and I stood behind it as one of those albums that occasionally blew a hole through my inner fog and briefly brought out something liberating. Even 32 years later, I’m getting a little bit of a kick from hearing the good, emotionally super-charged parts that blow through the fog of my favorite songs on The Dreaming: “Suspended in Gaffa,” “There Goes a Tenner,” “Houdini”…

    You know what else The Dreaming and the fact that I owned, if not played, other Kate Bush albums helped with? Don’t cancel me for this admission: attracting troubled “art girls,” as I would have referred to them. Troubled art students were inevitably a terrible match for Young Me, as they probably concluded I was for Young Them, after being with me for a few weeks, but we were drawn to each other. I had no real chops for meeting women, so I was happy to go with the flow…at least until we realized we were a terrible match and someone ended up in a heap, flooded with tears. However, to get the ball rolling, there was nothing like laying out my 4 Kate Bush albums in prominent spots in my messy room. Was I the only pathetic young person who used his or her album collection like “bait” for meeting potential partners?

    There was a time, during this brief spell, when I thought I could go back and enjoy those earlier Bush albums, whichever album she was promoting when she was on SNL. Although I owned her first 4 or so albums, it was NO DICE! The earlier ones were piano heavy, lacking the stoner vibe I liked in The Dreaming. It was like listening to lace doilies. The album following The Dreaming, The Hounds of Love, was actually the one most appealing to women who were interested in me, the best “bait,” as it were, but that was sounding too ’80s for me. I think I liked 2 songs, but it was no The Dreaming. I thought, too, that The Dreaming might be my way into Peter Gabriel. A big NO DICE on that angle, as well! He didn’t look half as good in a Danskin.

    Thankfully, I started to grow up and didn’t need all that drama – or at least so much manufactured drama. I had enough real-life drama and gave up all the stimulants that gave me the patience to wait out all the noodling bits of Kate Bush, prog-rock, Throbbing Gristle, etc. I still have the remnants of the years when I was hellbent on telling people to get off my cloud – or get on it: nothing in-between. I’ve long been happier to let people come and go into my world, dip a toe in, if that’s all they’re comfortable doing. I think that’s why I no longer need to listen to The Dreaming. I think I hold onto it, though, to remember that I was once there.

  2. Oh my god, I found it, and it’s as horrifying as Young Me remembered it! She’s not wearing those weird wool socks or wearing Cats makeup, though. The Carla Bley-inspired crimped hair with bangs makes up for those missing atrocities.


  3. diskojoe

    I first got into Kate Bush via an old high school friend of mine, who was a big fan. It has been said that Kate Bush fans are either one of two types, either guys who admire her looks & talent or women who admire her talent & independence in a “riot grrrl” sort of way. My friend was in the former camp. He was such a big fan that he subscribed to the official fan club magazine & got home made videos of the stuff that’s not on The Whole Story. He was also a bit of a slob. I remember seeing a rare EP w/a sneaker print embossed onto the vinyl.Anyway, I did get The Whole Story compilation, first on tape, then on CD, which is the only album of hers that I have. I did get some of her later post-Whole Story albums, but got rid them after a while. I do have home-burnt DVDs of her videos & other stuff from youtube & from her own website. I feel that she single handily kept1970s British prog-rock alive in the punk era due to her talent & other considerations, if you get my drift (“Wuthering Heights”, her first & biggest song came out in 1977, Year Zero of punk).

  4. BigSteve

    Mr Mod, I so remember that SNL appearance. I even remembered Eric Idle saying “She’s very wonderful.” I also remember not thinking she was wonderful. Precious is the word that comes to mind when I think of her. I admit I have never willingly listened to her music.

  5. Is it really just me and Happiness Stan who are letting a part of our record collections collect dust? You’re making me feel especially wasteful.

  6. Happiness Stan

    I’m especially eager to find out if any other townsfolk have albums they’ve bought or been given which they have held on to – despite never even listening to in the first place.

  7. Happiness, that would be a portion of my collection so large it would take days of typing.

    There are plenty of reasons for this. Back in the pre-streaming, pre-Alexa days I would like asking a guest “What artist do you like?” and it was a rare occasion when I didn’t have something by the artist. My tastes are wide and my collection has been large by any standard for quite a while; presently I’d guess I have 12,000 albums. Often when stumped in one of these requests, I felt obliged to get something by that artist for the next time. That’s why, for instance, I have an unplayed Barbara Streisand album.

    There are other items I have because, well, a collection worthy of the name ought to have them; this tends to be older, non-rock items.

    I don’t get rid of much although I keep saying I will. 20+ years ago I sold (and I use the term for lack of anything else) about 200 albums for $35 in trade. Pretty much everything was stuff I had on CD. I almost immediately regretted it. What was the point? I got nothing for them. It was too small a part of the whole to make any real difference in storage.

    For me, the best example of what you are talking about is Jim Lauderdale. At some point a few years ago I realized I had about a dozen Lauderdale CDs and most were unplayed. At some point I heard something, liked it, and then would pick them up here & there, usually for a couple of dollars. I started playing them and realized I didn’t really think most of them were all that appealing and I did get rid of those.

    I’ve done some other culling – did I really need all those Mojo and Uncut discs? No! – which has amounted to several hundred albums which were donated to the library. Again, though, a small fraction.

  8. 2000 Man

    I don’t think I have too much that I don’t listen to or really kind of don’t even want to listen to. If I had some Kate Bush albums I’d think, “Man, if she didn’t sound like Kate Bush I probably wouldn’t hate her.” It’s more genres for me, I think. Not that I have a lot of Grunge, but I’ve moved on from that. These days I’m really more embarrassed to say I have a very early copy of Metallica’s first album and it’s worth some decent coin. I have Master of Puppets and it’s a Club issue, so I probably got it for 1/12 of a penny and I’ve had offers on that one that were pretty good. I have a Iron Maiden album, and like three or four Saxon albums. All they make me think is, “What was wrong with me?” I wasn’t a kid when that stuff came out. I was old enough to know better.

    I have Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music. Lester Bangs still owes me 7 bucks for that. I should get rid of it. I have Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma. It was a gift, so I don’t think I’ll get rid of it but I think I played it once and thought it was terrible. I’m not really ever embarrassed by my records, because I have like five Bachman Turner Overdrive albums, and I listen to them. I don’t think anyone outside my age group should have any idea who they were, but I like them, and I like Grand Funk. I have Michael Stanley album, but I’m from Cleveland so you have to cut me slack on that one. I might even have more than one of his, but I kind of hope not!

  9. ladymisskirroyale

    Kate Bush: blech. Never liked her. She’s one of those artists I keep thinking I should like, but I just can’t get over her voice.

    I have a bunch of vinyl that I’ve started hauling over from my parents’ house, now that we finally own a good turntable. In it are all my prog rock loves (most Yes albums, some early Genesis, some ELP, etc.) which tell myself I still have for mostly sentimental reasons. I have to admit I’m a bit afraid to listen to them in case I wonder what the fuck was I thinking back in late 70’s and wonder about the crappy musical taste of my younger self. Note to self, Jon Anderson’s voice is not too distant a male version of Kate Bush’s but for some reason, I never minded it. I even have some of his solo work.

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