>> Tuesday, July 30, 2013
In the wayback-whens, here's how we used to pirate music: there was a place called a public library where, in addition to all the books you could borrow and read without compensating the publishers, you could check out records. As in vinyl long-playing platters, a format (ironically) I don't have to explain to the kids anymore. (Who knew? The compact disc was supposed to supplant the LP, but these days it really looks like long-playing vinyl will have the last laugh after all. Anyway.) And what you'd do when you got home, see, is you would run the audio signal from your turntable through a thing that is pretty much obsolete, called a cassette deck; the cassette deck, see, was the recorder-player for the cassette, the low-fidelity, easily-portable, highly-destructible audio format that was replaced by the low-fidelity, easily-portable, highly destructible compact disc (see previous parens). A cassette was a self-contained unit containing a reel-to-reel four-channel audio tape; the cassette deck had a magnetic reader that would read two of the tracks while the tape ran in one direction, and then you'd flip it over (or some decks would auto-reverse) and play the other pair of tracks. Looked like this:
And then you'd take the LP back to the library, and you had your own home copy of the album you sort-of stole ("sort of" because the legal environment in the United States, at least, was that analog copying for home use wasn't copyright infringement and, after 1992, some digital copying was covered by a licensing fee added to the retail price of digital audio tape and some recordable compact discs).
But I digress. As interesting as the history of home audio recording might (or might not) be, the only reason I brought it up at all is that there was one day in the mid-1980s, I think when I was 16 tho' I may have even been a little younger, when I was at the public library, going through their vinyl bin looking for something to check out, take home and misappropriate and I happened across an LP cover featuring a seductive-looking brunette cuddling with a pair of dogs, thus:
The name was not unfamiliar to me. I'd long been a Peter Gabriel fan, and Mr. Gabriel had long been a fan of Ms. Bush's voice: not just on Peter Gabriel's 1986 single "Don't Give Up", featuring a prominent duet with this Kate Bush person, but I was enough of a cognoscenti to know her credits on Gabriel's eponymous 1980 album (still a favorite of mine). Ironically, I wasn't yet aware that Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, who I regarded as a kind of god, had connections to Bush going back to when he helped launch her career.
"Peter Gabriel likes this chick, and she's kind of hot." (The back cover, depicting a soaked Kate Bush being pulled from the water, was even hotter than the front. If there's anything sexist about being obsessed with the artist's appearance, recall I was sixteen, or perhaps fifteen; no, I don't have that excuse now.) "Enh, let's see what she sounds like."
And that's how I fell in love with Kate Bush.
She was beautiful, she had a beautiful voice. She was so goddamn weird and eclectic. She wrote pop songs that were fundamentally geeky--Hounds Of Love, f'r'instance features a science-fictioney songs about Wilhelm Reich and a dream of seeing the world from space.1 I became mildly obsessive, grabbing albums and interviews and whatever else I could find. I became a fan. And have been for thirty-something years, now. J'adore. She continues to be a crush for me, one I hope the ScatterKat understands and forgives (seeing as how she knew me when, the ScatterKat probably is amused at my expense more than anything: really, some things never change).
Dangerous Minds pointed out it's her birthday today. So, happy birthday, Kate! They, too, posted the "Hounds Of Love" music video, and there's a temptation not to copy their lead, except it's something like an example of love at first sound. (I suppose you could be technical and point out "Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)" is actually the first track on the album, or that the first time I really heard Bush's voice was probably her chanted "Jeux sans frontières" on Peter Gabriel's "Games Without Frontiers"--nevertheless, I'm going with the title track of the first Kate Bush album I ever listened to and/or acquired.) I am massively appreciative: thank you, Ms. Bush, for all that brilliant and wonderful music.
1The title track of a more recent album, 50 Words For Snow, includes a line recited in tlhIngan Hol, i.e. the language spoken by Klingons in Star Trek. I love this woman.