Hounds Of Love

I spent a fair bit of tonight re-visiting and reflecting on one of my all time favourite CDs, “Hounds of Love” released by Kate Bush in 1985.

As much as I love Kate for her superlative pop songs, including “Wuthering Heights” and “Babooshka”, I guess what I like most about her is her more avante garde and challenging work. I loved, and remember vividly, seeing her video clip on “Countdown” for her song “The Dreaming”.

‘Bang!’ goes another kanga
On the bonnet of the van.
“See the light ram through the gaps in the land.”
Many an Aborigine’s mistaken for a tree
‘Til you near him on the motorway
And the tree begin to breathe.
“See the light ram through the gaps in the land.”

Although I’m not a great fan of the artists that influenced her most, including Genesis, I really like the way she inhabits the edgier parts of pop music, a characteristic of “Hounds of Love”. What I also like most about her work is that for me every song can trigger a variety of emotions and memories.

Even now, for example, twenty years later, I remember vividly dancing at a nightclub in Brisbane to the extended remix (which I bought) of the CD’s first single, “Running Up The Hill”.

“And if I only could I’d make a deal with God and get him to swap our places, being running up the road, be running up that hill”.

Maybe it’s because so many of the songs on this album have such wonderful melodies and rhythms, I’ve never really paid the lyrics too much attention, although I know all of the words by heart.

And even now, I wonder sometimes, how much sense the lyrics make. Are they carefully crafted poems? Or are they, perhaps, words chosen for their sound over their meaning?

After all, there’s a fair degree of ambiguity in a fair deal of her lyrics. For example, in “Cloudbusting”, the second single, at one moment she’s singing, in the voice of a young child, “You’re like my yoyo that glowed in the dark, what made it special made it dangerous” and the next she’s declaring “your son’s coming out”.

Whatever the lyrics, most of the time I just want to sing and scream along with her. The strength of her performance, which sometimes borders on the primeval, is infectious.

In the midst of these great rousing songs that make you want to scream at the top of your voice, there are gentle, languid songs like “Dream Of Sheep” and “Mother Stands For Comfort” which she sings slowly and deliberately.

I also like the theatricality of this album, with the album’s second side (yes, records had sides back then) dedicate to telling the story of someone falling through the ice and drowning…

“It’s wonderful
Everything, so white.
The river has frozen over
Not a soul on the ice,
Only me, skating fast.
I’m speeding past trees leaving
Little lines in the ice,
Cutting out little lines,
In the ice, splitting, splitting sound,
Silver heels spitting, spitting snow
There’s something moving under
Under the ice,
Moving under ice – through water
Trying to get out of the cold water
“It’s me”
Something, someone – help them
“It’s me”.
“under ice”

Dramatic eh? Anyway, from there, the person dies and goes to somewhere that’s a bit like heaven, though you’re never sure as she includes references to astronauts and such.

Although it sounds like a bit of a loopy kind of CD, I really love it and would highly recommend it to you.

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