kate bush returns

Penm01_3608_09Ian Penman at The London Review of Books:

Kate is perceived to be more ‘one of us’ than other pop/rock figures, one of the extended family. There’s a feeling that she’s ‘stayed the same’, that success ‘hasn’t spoiled her’. She’s someone you might have known at sixth-form college, or at your Saturday job (the artier kind, obviously: knick-knack stall at the local market); but definitely a scream down the pub, with her packet of Silk Cut and pint of proper scrumpy. At the same time, people are drawn to her peacock’s-tail otherness, the slightly recherché taste for odd bods like Ouspensky, Gurdjieff and Wilhelm Reich. She has the soul of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but the robust mien of Mrs Thatcher at a 1980s cabinet meeting. Obviously, no one maintains a position somewhere near the top of the music biz for three and a half decades by being entirely nice and floppy and whichever-way-the-wind-blows. From the off, she was the beneficiary of her parents’ middle-class smarts. A precociously dreamy, sky-eyed teen daughter, she was wisely shepherded. Family and management were merged, became one and the same: Kate Inc., a well-tended cottage industry. Her decision, after 1979’s one exhausting and ill-fated outing, not to tour again, removed yet another plank from the algae-hued drawbridge over the moat. (Consider a few tropes from Aerial: fond dreams of invisibility; pained bafflement at Elvis’s trashy reclusion; the self-imposed exile of Charles Foster Kane; and Joan of Arc, ‘beautiful in her armour …’) Ever since, she has lived a life in many ways more like a writer’s than a modern pop star’s: pop’s own J.K. Rowling. (With her Roman Catholic background and taste for bittersweet mysticism, other names suggest themselves here too: Muriel Spark, Penelope Fitzgerald, Angela Carter, Fay Weldon.)

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