Irene Marquette's intro to Kate Bush: Freak Diva

This month's edition of Irene Marquette's Curio Show is all about cult art rocker Kate Bush, with guest performances from Rebecca Sohn, Wes Perry, Alisa Rosenthal, Darling Shear, Sierra Dufault, Katy Conroy, & more.

Irene's here with an overview of what to expect at tomorrow night's show, which promises to be a wildly eclectic and engaging night both for fans and those totally in the dark RE: Bush's career. Don't miss the Curio Show tomorrow (Wednesday, November 20th) at 8pm at the Upstairs Gallery!

Remember Doris’s audition at the beginning of Fame, when she is discouraged from singing because it’s a drama audition and her mother pokes her head in the room and goes “When Doris sings it IS drama!”? She carries on, pressing play on a shitty little recorder and her brother’s awful piano pecking comes in and she begins performing a frail rendition of The Way We Were. It picks up some steam and suddenly she’s monologuing and her voice is clear and assured and then she starts swiveling between the two and her mother is crying and the only thing you know is that DORIS IS A STAR AND AN ARTIST.

Thinking about Kate Bush, a way to present her here, now, in writing, to be enticing to people who may not know of her (or if they do only know this)

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is a little difficult.

Waiting for the bus this morning I took to meditating hard on what the most alienating comparison would be and it occurred to me to describe her as the Schiaparelli of music.

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I think about the creation and collaborations, the influence and authenticity, the reverence people have in their voices when they speak of them. And she (Kate Bush) was a pop STAR. Someone who started off weird and took a hard left into weirder, freakier territory and then set up shop there. By star I don’t mean this was a Schiaparelli for Target situation (please let that happen now that they’ve reopened her fashion house!), I mean it would be like if Lady Gaga wasn’t a human blender/collage of pop art/culture and just WAS.

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In 11th grade I had to do a presentation for my English lit class and choose to present Kate Bush’s Jig of Life from Hounds of Love. I will quote myself, “The second half of this album was inspired by a painting of a boat lost in a storm at sea which I have brought for you to look at. As you can see there’s light breaking into the darkness. This suite explores the emotions a woman feels as she is drowning. Jig of Life is where she feels like maybe she should give it a shot and features a poem by Paddy Bush, Kate’s brother which I brought copies of for everyone so they can read along. Interestingly, the liner notes features a few lines from a passage by Tennyson which I will read for you now.”

And then I stared at my class as we listened in silence:

I promise this show will not be a lecture or too much of a trip down memory lane. It’s hard not to go there though. Her music came at a significant time in my life (teen-girl-hood!). I poured over those lyrics and studied album covers for symbols and secret signs. This all happened in a mysterious long-ago time before java, before Youtube, before every article ever was scanned and archived and available to the public. When people connected on a specific topic via webring (gaffaweb). As a matter of fact, our gal wrote a song about internet addiction in 1987. Everyone who is really into her has a story about where they first heard her music. For me, I kept coming across her name and finally got the gumption to go and check out The Red Shoes at my local library. Some stories are just glamorous like that.

Let’s hear from a couple of the performer’s in Wednesday’s show:

I first heard of Kate Bush when Hounds of Love came out.  I heard songs from it on the radio then quickly bought the album.  It came at a time of enormous upheaval in my life when i was less interested in boys and more interested in how to survive in a world that i thought was filled with insanity and aggressively mean.  I heard her voice and thought it was ridiculous but felt compelled to keep listening.  I thought her lyrics at times made no sense but i knew exactly what she was talking about.  There was something about the dense music filled with snippets of real life and weird life sounds that drew me in and told me the story of my life.  She satisfied a fantastic part of life to me that was alternately indefinable and ugly and scary and yet had possibilities.
- Rebecca Sohn

I first discovered Kate Bush in college - my roommate was obsessed with the song "Wuthering Heights," and we huddled around her computer to watch the music video and COULDN'T BELIEVE IT EXISTED. Quickly my entire group of friends were constantly referencing, singing, and acting out our new favorite piece of pop culture. We had that ironic distance that makes things outside of our immediate nostalgia so appealing - but I had already fallen down the Kate Bush rabbit hole. The more I listened to her music, the more I learned about her, the more I started to appreciate her on a real, non-ironic level. This chick knows what she's doing. And she's STILL weird.
- Alisa Rosenthal

Ok, let’s say you have a friend (who might actually be you) who has never listened to any Kate Bush before but has seen her name pop up a hundred times in reference to Tori Amos, Bjork, NIN, Outkast or because she looks like Mary Steenburgen.

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What do you play?  What is the best song to suck someone in and fall in love? I’ve been agonizing over this. What is weird but not TOO weird? Conclusion: I’m not your babysitter. Here’s some of the weird stuff that will not be covered in the show.

In this song she really wants someone to get out of her house and features the melodic sounds of men braying like donkeys:

Here’s a song where she is dancing with an aggressive and charismatic handsome stranger who TURNS OUT TO BE HITLER:

Think about that for a second. Could you even imagine if Miley Cyrus dared? It would be truly, TRULY shocking.

She wrote this one from the perspective of Houdini’s widow who is trying to contact him at a seance.

Those songs aren’t even close to my faves.

In my opinion, the real tour de force of her career, her ultimate Doris moment (and she has a few), is This Woman’s Work. And she knew because that title is not shy.

-Irene Marquette