ALL PHOTOS: John Carder Bush
How Long Before Kate Bush Is Made a Dame?
BECAUSE this is a bit of a quiet spell...
regarding Kate Bush, it allows me a chance to reflect and think. I say ‘quiet spell’ but, by that, I mean there is no news regarding re-releases and anything coming from her. Now and then, Bush will be mentioned in the news and you get the odd bit here and there. She has been in the music industry for over four decades and achieved so much. Look at what Kate Bush has accomplished since she broke through with Wuthering Heights in 1978 and one wonders whether there is one thing missing. I know damehoods are not given out lightly but, look around there are people out there who have accomplished less than Kate Bush and have one. I am not necessarily pointing the finger at sports personalities or actors but, yeah, you stack up what they have done and compare that to someone like Kate Bush. Back in 2013, Bush got close to being made a dame when she received a CBE. Pitchfork reported the news:
“Most fans would agree that Kate Bush is a national treasure, but now it's on the books. Earlier today, the 54-year-old songwriter received a CBE-- Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire-- from none other than the Queen of England herself. The CBE is a high honor: In the Order of the British Empire, it's only one rung down from knighthood-- which feels like a near miss, since "Dame Kate Bush" has a certain ring to it.
Bush doesn't make a lot of public appearances these days, but she made an exception to accept the medal at today's Windsor Castle ceremony. (NME has some amazing photos of her getting the medal from the Queen.)
"I feel incredibly thrilled to receive this honour which I share with my family, friends and fellow musicians and everybody who has been such an important part of it all," Bush said in a statement. "Now I've got something special to put on top of the Christmas tree".
There is, as they say, a pretty nice ring to having Dame Kate Bush in our midst. To be fair, Ringo Starr has only recently been made a sir and that took since the 1960s to make that happen! Even though Bush has been in music since the 1970s, one can argue there are other musicians that deserve knighthood and damehoods. Think about the fact David Bowie never got a knighthood and the fact that, posthumously, he thoroughly deserves one. When it comes to musical dames, there are not that many around! There is an argument for other artists being honoured but, when you think of Kate Bush, she has already achieved so much. She scored the first self-written number-one by a British female artist when Wuthering Heights arrived; Never for Ever, her third album in 1980, was the first time an album by a British female went to the top spot.
Think about the continued popularity of her work and how it has influenced others. Not only did her Tour of Life stage-show inspire countless artists but her music, through the decades, has dramatically changed music. There is, still, nobody like her in music and that will remain the case forever. I am not sure what her current plans are but, over the past year or so, she has re-released her back catalogue and brought out a book of lyrics. Back in 2014, she performed her Before the Dawn residency in Hammersmith and marked a welcome return to the stage after thirty-five years. Not only is Bush’s music staggering but the visual side is intoxicating and compelling. Her videos, from the very start, have blown minds and stuck in the memory. I recall watching the video for Them Heavy People (from The Kick Inside) and being moved by this strange, seductive and unusual video that was so different to anything around. Bush brought movement and dance into her music and, with it, this unique and special world. In terms of vocals and movement, there are plenty of female artists today that owe a debt to bush – Florence + The Machine springs to mind. Consider the themes tackled right from the start and how it opened worlds for other songwriters. Few before Kate Bush were writing about incest, menstruation and love in the same manner.
There are some (foolish) people who do not ‘get’ her music but, even if that is the case, one cannot deny the power and magic of her work. As her albums moved on, she kept moving in different directions and stepped into fresh territory. Her ten studio albums are all vastly different and wonderful. The Kick Inside and Lionheart, with more high-pitched vocals, had this sensuality and rare beauty. Never for Ever was a step forward in terms of adding rawness to her vocals whereas The Dreaming is this experimental and wild work that took a lot out of Bush. She then followed that with Hounds of Love in 1985 and this, to many, is her best album. It remains one of the finest records of the 1980s and a hugely accomplished work. The Sensual World continued a fine run whereas The Red Shoes, although not as successful as her previous work, is an amazing album. Her more recent works are more mature but no less ambitious and amazing as her earlier stuff. It is not just the material and the words that compel but it is the way Bush has conducted her career. She promoted her work heavily in the early days and, at every opportunity, was the model of professionalism and sweetness. Her last album, 50 Words for Snow, was met with a blizzard of interviews and she was engaged and fascinating in every one. You get a lot of big stars who are not that interesting in interviews or not as nice as they could be.
With Kate Bush, she is very real and honest. She values her private life so you will not see her out at parties or courting the limelight. She also takes her time to produce albums to ensure they are as fine as they can be. You listen to her songs and are sucked into her world. Her pen has always been sharper and more engrossing than any around and one tries to think of another artist with the same reach and imagination. There are artists – like Tori Amos and Björk – who have been guided by Bush and you can trace back to her. Modern music is not exactly wild and daring so we still listen to Kate Bush’s work to get that spark and passion. Since 1978, this wonderful artist has provided the world with so much incredible music and influenced scores of others. I feel that, whilst some of her peers have been made dames, Bush has been denied. It is great she is a CBE but surely an upgrade must be coming. The sheer coolness of seeing Dame Kate Bush put out music is amazing and she definitely deserves the honour! I am not sure how much say The Queen has regarding honours and who makes the call but one feels like Bush’s incredible background and legacy warrants her being made a dame. Perhaps it is just me but I know there are others who would like to see it happen.
I am not certain what the next couple of years hold for Kate Bush but there is going to be that desire for more material. She was busy last year in a retrospective sense and ensured her words and music were out there in the world. There are few artists around who have produced such an impressive and original body of work so you have to feel that, one day, Kate Bush will be made a dame. Every time I get to write about Kate Bush – whether that is because of an album or something else – I look back at her work and marvel. No two albums are the same and I feel like a generation of songwriters are experiencing Kate Bush for the first time and taking note. I understand CBEs and big honours do not change things or define who someone is but I have seen so many lesser personalities and those who have done less good being knighted or given a dameship. I have just been musing and thinking about the biggest artists around and those who have provided the world with so much. Bush is among the most inspiring and it is great she already has a CBE to her name. It would be great to think that, when the New Year Honours List is announced for next year, Kate Bush will be on it again. For now, we look ahead and hold our breath that there will be some material coming down the line. You can guarantee that, whenever her eleventh album arrives, it will be another…