Tag Archives: art rock

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.

Songs for a Weekend Apocalypse

21 May

According to Christian radio broadcaster Harold Camping, the beginning of the end of the world starts today. But instead of selling all my belongings and heading to a mountaintop, I thought I’d put together a quick playlist for the end times.

Here’s what the apocalypse sounds like to me:

Montage, “Wake Up, Jimmy (Something’s Happening Outside)”

Kicking things off with the not-so-well-known closer on the sole album by ’60s Baroque pop band Montage (also not well-known, but GREAT). Recorded smack dab in the middle of the Cold War, this jaunty tune is actually about the dropping of an atomic bomb. I suppose it doesn’t hurt to think happy thoughts while your flesh is burning.

David Bowie, “Five Years”

Obvious choice from Bowie’s magical Ziggy Stardust years. One of my favorite songs of all time, and one to surely belt out while watching a rising mushroom cloud.

Kate Bush, “Breathing”

I’ve been discovering Kate Bush little by little over the last few weeks and I’m steadily becoming fascinated with her. She’s just so damn ballsy and artsy! “Breathing” is another Cold War era joint — it appeared on Bush’s hit 1980 album Never for Ever — but unlike the Montage track, this song is quite melodically dark. I love how Bush blends murky, impressionistic soulfulness with her lyrical take on the aftermath of nuclear war.

Wu-Tang Clan feat. Isaac Hayes, “I Can’t Go to Sleep”

Rousing strings from the Isaac Hayes sample + Ghostface Killah and RZA’s anguished delivery + rhymes dripping with conspiracy theories and hopelessness = one powerful f***ing song.

TV on the Radio, “No Future Shock”

No world (or not much of one) after today? TVOTR says we might as well dance about it. I agree.

That’s gonna do it for my shortlist. So tell me, what’s on your end of days mixtape?