Podcasts Political Beats

Episode 106: Andrew Prokop / Kate Bush

Musician Kate Bush perfors at the Secret Policeman’s Ball, in aid of Amnesty International, at London Palladium, March 1987. (Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

Scot and Jeff discuss Kate Bush with Andrew Prokop.

Introducing the Band:
Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) are joined by Andrew Prokop. Andrew is Senior Politics Correspondent for Vox, and you can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter at @awprokop.

Andrew’s Music Pick: Kate Bush
Who? Unless you’re an art-rocker, Englishman, or Lisa Simpsonesque girl-poet-dreamer, the name “Kate Bush” quite likely means nothing to you. Bush is something close to a beloved institution in the United Kingdom, where she has grown up in public to become the nation’s officially designated Eccentric Bookish Aunt, but in the United States she is almost a pure cipher outside of music fanatics, a weird lady with a flute-like voice who occasionally shows up on ’80s-era Peter Gabriel singles.

Well get ready for a massive course-correction then, because this is an episode of Political Beats that has been brewing since the day the show began. And it doesn’t take a psychic to figure out which of your hosts has been quietly lying in wait, ready to explain the deeply committed art-rock genius of Kate Bush to you for four years now. Bush began her career as a downright creepily preternatural child prodigy (she was writing at age ten, recording by age 13, professionally recording at age 15, and released her debut LP at age 18), swiftly gathered up complete creative control into her hands, and went to work from 1980 onwards shaping a career that stands for so many things, but perhaps most of all for the miraculous idea that gallery/exhibition-level art and “pop music” can still coexist within the same skin without shedding representation altogether. Instrumentally, this is piano-based music, but the real instrument here is the Fairlight CMI, a synthesizer program set that allowed her to retreat into near-complete isolation and play every single note of any instrument herself; Bush, more than nearly any other rock or pop artist with mainstream success during the 1980s, is the sound of Virginia Woolf’s A Room Of One’s Own made good.

Ah, but it’s not just about art! It’s about love and beauty! Bush balanced all of her arty instincts with an achingly pure lyrical vision that magpied from every influence imaginable to take form in her own unique style: a literary fascination with artifice — with the self-construction that knowledge and imposture makes possible — combined with an elementally deeply fascination with men and the inscrutable mysteries of masculine anxieties, ambitions, and inchoate needs.

So here we go! It’s coming for us through the trees! Take your shoes off, throw them in the lake, click play, and before you’re 20 minutes in, hopefully you’ll be two steps on the water as well.