Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Catherinesque

Kate Bush, even at 19, was an astounding singer/songwriter. Look at how she arrived in 1976: "Out on the wiley, windy moors/ We'd roll and fall in green./ You had a temper like my jealousy:/ Too hot, too greedy." The Kick Inside more than lived up to the promise of her first single. It was a glorious combination of intrigue and mystery; it was intelligent, fresh and compulsive. It's funny that critics brand novels willy-nilly with the adjective that's launched a thousand blurbs—Dickensian, yet if ever there was a modern writer who deserves the accolade on a modern level, it's KB. Dickensian, in my mind, signifies sentimentality, attentiveness to social mores and to the human condition, or it creates a cast of comically hyperbolic characters. Rock and pop singer/songwriters rarely get the literary respect they deserve, yet what indeed is more Dickensian than The Kick Inside? And I'm not talking some Steampunk fa├žade in sepiatone, but a truly 20th Century British perspective of a woman’s maturation. That to me is Dickensian. 

Even without the cultural context of the time, Bush would have been special, yet it was painfully obvious in the 1970s just how male-dominated the British pop world was. Females sang, of course, but never their own material and women hardly ever played instruments. America had Joni Mitchell and Laura Nyro and Carol King, but British women were the trained monkeys of the music industry, or they were pretty and petite (early Marianne Faithful comes to mind). And never did they write of or sing about their vaginas (indeed, Kate's bush). Seriously, it took the 19, scratch that, the 16 year old Kate to take on the literary world, and still there were critics who tossed the phenomenon away as "squeaky." 40 years later the impact of Kate's accomplishment is lost in the normalcy of the strong female (even in Britain). Someday we will be searching for an adjectified critical association like Dickensian or Kafkaesque, but what, Bushian? Katean? High praise indeed for anyone in our future labeled Catherinesque.