Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Red Shoes - But...

There was an implication in the last post that I wasn't a fan of The Red Shoes; some of it, I'm not. I can do without "Eat the Music" and "Rubberband Girl," and there is an obvious disappointment after a feat like The Ninth Wave. The rest of the LP, though, is phenomenal, if reluctant maturity. In particular, there are several tracks that cannot be overlooked as among the best of Kate's canon. "Top of the City" is one. Inspiring and bittersweet, the song is an extended metaphor, the personification of a city. There's a strange feeling here as she watches over him and the city from above it all, like an out of body experience; like an angel talking about loneliness and love. In my most imaginative, she is a ghost who watches over the lover she left behind.

And I don't mind if it's dangerous
I don't mind if it's raining
Take me up to the top of the city
And put me up on the angel's shoulders
Take me to the top of the city
One more step to the top of the city
And put me up on the angel's shoulders

And then there's "Moments of Pleasure." So beautiful and melancholy. So personal and standoffish, and yet somehow, we all relate to the emotion. Perhaps Kate's most iconic piano ballad, "Moments of Pleasure" was released as the second single from The Red Shoes. It conveys Kate's remembrance of those who have impacted her life and have since passed on. The most notable of these is her mother, Hannah Bush, who was sick at the time of recording.

Her mother said, "Every old sock needs an old shoe." It's an old Gaelic or English saying. So warm, yet with her mother there and suffering, she sings "Just being alive; it can really hurt."

And, of course, there are few songwriters who can pull off the line, "Don't want your bullshit. Just want your sexuality." The Red Shoes is far from the AM10 of Hounds of Love but what it offers well is songwriting at it most gut-wrenching.