The Top Five Bush Singles

In 1978, as a young man, I was interested in Led Zeppelin (they were just about to record In Through the Out Door) Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Motörhead. But another artist transfixed me in a way that no artist had ever done before.

We all had the introduction to this new sound through a deeply evocative début album called ‘The Kick Inside’ released to the world after a surprisingly successful single that reintroduced us all to Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff.

This darkly Gothic artwork was full of magical moments, uneasy incestuous nuances and deeply disturbing – almost nightmarish – musical wanderings. It was brought to us by a slip of a girl. A worryingly controlling dark-haired banshee. Her name was Kate Bush.

As a bunch of lads, we contentedly pawed over, studied and examined this dark album for many hours. We talked into the night about its black magic and forbidden sexual chemistry. We spent long-hours listening to each nebulous track.

The songs on the album seemed to merge into each other to spontaneously tell a story of taboos and eternal damnation. We would  talk endlessly about the meaning of “Moving” and “Room for the Life” – was the sister in an unhealthy relationship with her older brother? Would the power of love really triumph over death?

A year later I met Bush. It was an exciting moment. Like most hot-blooded young men I was infatuated. As you can imagine, I felt helpless when I looked into those merciless deep eyes. And I felt the magic of her hypnotic presence.

Bush was absent from public life for many years. But her new series of concerts sold out, last week, in just a few minutes. The release of her eighth studio album – ‘Aerial‘ in 2005 – was seen by many fans as a culmination of a career that she began as an unruly fairy – just 19 years old – back in the late 1970’s. This means that more than one generation knows almost nothing about her body of work.

So here are the finest moments (brought to us in singles) from a long and innovative career:

Bush man with the child in his eyes1: “The Man with the Child in His Eyes

This was probably one of the ‘easiest‘ and more accessible tracks from ‘The Kick Inside’ but even this song has a deep sense of love combined with twinges of unimaginable pain and darker moments hinting at a prohibited union.

As an older brother of three sisters, the words of this song spoke clearly to me in 1979. I seemed to be watching my sisters grow up – to become young women. But they would always stay ‘children‘ to me – their childhood personalities had to be fixed and frozen solid in my minds-eye – forever – so that they could never grow old before me.

Yet, when I listened to the song later, as a father of two daughters, the truly sad poignancy of the lyrics finally shine through.

It‘s almost unimaginable that Bush wrote this song when she was just 13 years old – but perhaps only a 13 year old girl could be this honest about her innermost feelings.



Bush Wow2: “Wow

The album ‘Lionheart‘ was not easy. We tried to get into it in the same way we got into ‘The Kick Inside’ – but this was a pale imitation of that magnificent album. Still, it had some wonderful moments including “Oh England My Lionheart” and “Hammer Horror” – but it was with ‘Wow’ that got Bush got noticed again.

About the excesses and shenanigans of the music biz / show -biz ‘Wow‘ starts with that disconcerting supernatural energy we had witnessed earlier in ‘A Kick Inside’ – but now we see something shiny and slippery ooze out. Because now Bush had seen – for herself – the seedier sides of the business.

The sleaziness sneaks out and grabs us. The accompanying video – with those memorable bum-taps helped to promote this song.

But it was really the parody by comedienne Faith Brown that brought this song into every home up and down the country.




Bush Babooshka3: “Babooshka

The third album ‘Never for Ever‘ brought us “Breathing” but it was the other singles from the L.P. that had more dramatic impact on me. The opening chords of “Babooshka” are all you need to know about the feline femme fatale in this song.

The grand operatic yearning is almost palpable in those big marble steps downwards, set out right from the beginning. The line “She signed the letter” is the link between two women … a frozen ‘wife’ and an exotic ‘dancer’ … and that bewitching laugh after the word “Incognito” is the centre-point of this tale.

This song seemed to be, on the face of it, a story about vengeance or a morality tale. But when Bush screams “Aaaall yours … “ you finally realize (as a male listener) that the protagonist is completely insane. And that’s when you realize this relationship is going to end in tragedy!




Bush army dreamers4: “Army Dreamers

For her single ‘Army Dreamers’ Bush assumed a slightly Irish lilt (almost Romani) as the skittish silvery strings are plucked from the air – and sound like softly piercing bullets running towards an open heart.

The funeral pace of the song is accentuated by the cocking, arming and re- loading of a rifle.

It’s easy to forget that, back in 1980, we were all aware of the Northern Ireland ‘troubles’ and were often victims ‘at home’ – in a constant state of vigilance and wary that the Republicans might attack us on home soil at any moment. So this song was appropriate.

Even now, were are involved in a war. Inside this song, tucked deep into the red satins, is a coffin-box of terrible memories and unimaginable heartaches.




Bush King of The Mountain5: “Sexual Healing

Only one song was released as a single from the album ‘Aerial’, (“King of the Mountain” rose to No 4 in the UK charts.) But the ‘B-side’ was a cover version of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”.

Imagine the iciest frosting of sweet-sweet vocal – so high and so pure – that it rises like a skylark.

That was the vocal on this song. It was soul, performed as imaginatively and as naively as Linda Lewis might have done – almost bubble-gummy in quality – but with a kind of hypnotically spectral sheen that you would expect from Bush.

Give it a listen. You will not be disappointed.

@neilmach © 2014




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.