Dear Diary: Meditations on One Woman’s Work

23 May

Director's Cut cover

For the last few weeks I’ve been anticipating the arrival of May 22 and May 23 for two reasons: May 22 was the one-year anniversary of my grandmother’s death, and today Kate Bush’s Director’s Cut, an album containing reworkings of previously released songs, is officially out in the U.S. Back in April, when I happened upon an mp3 of “Deeper Understanding” and immediately fell in love with its intimate eeriness, I never thought that a month later I would be combining a blog post on Bush, an art rocker, with musings on my grandmother, Lee Pervis “Pearl” Jackson. However, last year when I spoke at my grandmother’s funeral I did refer to great artists (writers specifically) to eulogize her and here I am doing it again, so I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise.

I do and don’t know why I’ve become so infatuated with Kate Bush. Yes, both the original and refashioned versions of “This Woman’s Work,” “Deeper Understanding,” and “Moments of Pleasure” on Director’s Cut are fantastic songs in their own right, but overall, her catalog isn’t the type of thing I’m usually in to. But there is something about Bush that’s so fiercely yet nonchalantly gusty that I am so impressed with. Every step of her career, from establishing herself as THE eccentric soprano in the late ’70s to her ability to successfully revisit material on her new album demonstrates undeniable strength.

When I spoke at my grandmother’s funeral last year, I talked a lot about her strength. As I listen to Director’s Cut, the arresting solemnity of “This Woman’s Work” and “Moments of Pleasure” reminds me of the stoicism that characterized her life, that was her MO in the face of most tragedy. My mother has often said that before Alzheimer’s disease transformed her, my grandmother rarely broke down and cried in front of people. She wasn’t cold or impassive by any means though. On the contrary, she had a genuine warmth and charm that could penetrate any dour front and she had dynamism for days.

Sounds silly, but I think it’s serendipity that the release of Director’s Cut coincided with the anniversary of my grandmother’s passing. Who would have thought art rock would’ve helped me cope with heavy emotions? Certainly not me, but I thank Kate Bush for the strange comfort of her work.

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