The Kick Inside – Kate Bush

Learning my love for Kate

by Iryna Byelyayeva

When I was young, foolish and emotionless I kept telling myself I didn’t like Kate Bush. Now, years later and after lots of emotional growth, this piece is about love—about a woman loving another woman’s spirit and allowing feelings to burn and stir and bubble inside while listening to her music. Kate’s unapologetic femininity has become my role model.

A boy I had a crush on showed her to me and I, being a cool teen, declared than I found her music annoying and lumped her in with all the other high-pitched singers I don’t have any fondness for. But she didn’t want to be lumped—you don’t lump someone like Kate Bush. For years I watched video after video of her music, which oscillate between whimsical and downright philosophical. I just didn’t know how to deal with it, in a society which tells you that the feminine is in no way something you should aspire to be. Romance isn’t cool—being cool and aloof is cool. This wonderful young woman was taking inspiration from literature and dance and being unafraid of her feelings. Soon my secret affinity for these things prevailed and I began to love Kate and everything she stood for. Women loving women is a beautiful thing.

‘Wuthering Heights’ was the first song I heard. It’s so lovely that it was inspired by Emily Brontë’s work. ‘Wuthering Heights’ is hypnotic. Firstly, a woman writing music about literature is so badass. Secondly, the song is passionate, romantic and fraught. It took me so long to accept how much I admire the gothic romance of both the novel and the song. Now, whenever I listen to it I feel like I’m being filled up. Especially when the song reaches the bridge. When Kate sings ‘oooh, let me have it, let me grab your soul away’ I think about Kate enchanting my own soul and the passion burning between Cathy and Heathcliff. Say what you want about them being terrible people, their story is so romantic (as long as it doesn’t become your romance goals, because then you need to take a step back for a second). Kate is an incredible songwriter and lyrists and truly captured the way these characters tear you apart. You hate them but you long for their spirits to reunite because Brontë really made you feel the pain they go through without each other. These two women, writing a love story so long apart, is a beautiful romance in itself. I’ll even throw myself, and any other listener, into the mix and say that Kate singing ‘it’s me Cathy, I’ve come home…let me in through your window’ is Kate trying to come into our hearts, she’s asking us to let her in through her music. Kate, you have transfixed me completely—my soul, you can have it.

You will find ‘Wuthering Heights’ smack in the middle of The Kick Inside (1978)—an album Kate released when she was nineteen. It’s fascinating to me how this album manages to really make me feel the mood of each song despite how many times I’ve listened to it. The transition from ‘Kite’ to ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ moves me every time. The song is so gentle and loving and confused. At the time of every listen the man seems is someone else. I love to imagine who it could be. Sometimes, I relate it to someone in my own life. This song doesn’t necessarily make you feel better or worse, but it soothes you. Most of the time I try to think up who she was singing about. It’s the song I put on during a cold night-time tram ride home to ignore everything and wonder. I wonder if he was a real person or if he was a symbol. I don’t think he’s God. But then, it doesn’t really matter.

‘James And The Cold Gun’ is whimsically sexual (which I think is a great description for this whole album). It’s playful until the seriously-70s guitar solo at the end. Kate’s music always balances perfectly between bizarrely flirtatious and really masterful. Each song shows the personality of a young woman who is coming to understand herself through her music while not taking it too seriously. The amount of times I’ve attempted the chorus of ‘Oh To Be In Love’ is ridiculous. I want to know how she came up with it and how many times she had to practice to get that note. Moving from ‘Oh To Be In Love’ to the more mature ‘L’Amour Looks Something Like You’ lets me participate again. This album is great for singing along, for dancing madly, for drinking wine – alone or with friends. Kate experiments with her voice and lets out notes which really should be very annoying but somehow are endearing when coming from her. She never loses me as her listener in the phantasmagoria.

The Kick Inside makes me want to fall in love. It makes me want to sit on a bed of grass, shaded by softly swaying arms of a tree, and read a good book. It makes me want to get lost, be young, admire myself in a mirror and swoop about like a bird. It’s so feminine without being boastful or revolutionary about the fact. It doesn’t need to be. I don’t think this album is ever trying to make a statement. It’s simple a young woman admiring other women, admiring people in general and perfectly unpretentiously singing about it. How could I not have fallen in love?


Iryna is a creative lady living in Melbourne, Australia. She is the Editor of The Wall Mag and gets published here and there. She can be followed on twitter @irynabyel

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