I’ve been taking a songwriting class for the past month. I’ve also been meaning to write something on Kate Bush, as suddenly there is a sort of “Bushmania”,(among those who care or are curious about why those who care care) because she has taken to the stage for a full-fledged concert of 22 shows at the Hammersmith Apollo in London. I,sadly, am unable to go. The tickets had sold in less than 15 minutes when they went live. The whole affair would have been expensive for me, as I live in India. Touts have been selling them online at an ungodly price and I had even considered paying that, though the total expense(including plane and hotel fare) would cost half my savings. Yes, I was crazy enough to be that serious about it, but then I tried to reason whether it was worth the ordeal. Which, for the first time, made me evaluate how much I loved Kate Bush.
Why the hell did I start with talking about my songwriting class when I would spend the rest of the paragraph doing a Kate Bush appreciation? Here’s why: My biggest priority in the last few days has been to write and record a song for my class, but my thoughts have been occupied more than ever with Kate Bush. And I find that, surprisingly, they are interconnected.
It is hard to find a unifying theme in the Kate Bush canon. The closest one can get to a commonality is the idea of dreams, most pronounced in her opening track “And Dream of Sheep” on the concept B-Side called The Ninth Wave, on the album Hounds of Love(1985). The song is about slowly drifting into sleep, as it captures the mid-way moment of waking and sleep. However, instead of the comforting dream of sheep that the character anticipates(have any of us ever dreamed of sheep?), she is led to nightmares instead. Kate’s concert is titled Before The Dawn, where I expect she will, similarly, try and capture that moment of sleep and waking, perhaps in the reverse order from The Ninth Wave.
There are a number of things I find intriguing about this theme. Dreams are a subject of great fascination with the arts and sciences alike. They are individual yet universal, endlessly interesting yet terrifying. While it is a bit of an old wives’ tale to believe that a hard day’s night ensures deep, dreamless sleep, in my life I find it true that the more relaxed and sedentary my waking hours are, the more intense and frightening my dreams. The only time I had experienced dreamless sleep was a period of 4 months, where I had reasons to be completely sure of myself. I find the occurrence of pleasant dreams even rarer.
Working on this new song and listening more than ever to Kate’s albums to relieve some of the pain, made me realize how this time between sleep and waking is a fertile one for facilitating creativity. I never get an idea if I just sit at my laptop or notebook. Neither do I get them when I am being exposed to any artform. No, that is only absorption, living. I get them when I do mundane things, like showering, doing the dishes or trying to sleep. Especially with sleep, I finally get to let an inner world reign over me, where whatever I have absorbed gets distilled into something else. And I’d be a fool if I did not write it down.
I spent the last 3-4 days, all day long, banging on my synth and writing in my notebook to finish the daunting task of writing an entire song. And yet, it was last night, when I freed myself of every waking barricade, that I was open to melodies and words just coming out of my head, without any volition. The direct source of this creative moment was the pain of not being able to watch Kate live, and the curiosity of how she would actually perform at her gig. All these days, these emotions had simply been repressed by waking. But last night, I was able to distil my true emotions through song, as I inched towards my own land of dreams. What better lesson could the goddess of songwriting give me, than by not being able to watch her?
Are you going to Kate Bush’s concerts? What are your feelings towards her performing after such a long time?