I know there are many of you out there who can remember exactly where you were when you first heard a certain song was. The song, the moment, the place, the smells were somehow right, perfect, so that hearing the song takes you right back to that time. Like you, there are songs that capture moments and albums that describe periods in my life. The term soundtrack of your life is so overused, maybe because it is so right. Kate bush has been the soundtrack for my life.
I first heard Kate on Saturday Night Live in 1978 I think. She sat on the piano while Paul Schaffer played the "Man with the Child in his Eyes." That evening she also sang "Them Heavy People" dressed in a trench coat with a voice so high I am assuming only dogs could appreciate the nuances. My memory may fail but as I recall the audience sat there confused, not really liking it, but sort of polite. Clearly this is not American music. It's all corpuscles and no muscle. Frankly, I liked her because she was weird and I so desperately wanted to be weird. In reality I was entirely regular, as regular as toast. I was on a mission to be the first of my friends to like her. But there was a problem. The next day, Sunday, I couldn't remember her name. I asked my cousins if they remembered this strange high pitched singer on Saturday Night live. Thankfully they did. Seriously, I owe them a big debt of gratitude. Monday morning I went to Turtle's (OK Atlanta people, remember Turtles?) and bought her album "The Kick Inside."
So that is my intro into Kate.
Blah blah blah… years pass
I came out the year Never for Ever was released. (Soundtrack of Ted's Life, Side One, Tracks 4 and 5)
I was in Athens at the University of Georgia, when Hounds of Love absolutely changed my life. (Soundtrack of Ted's Life, All of Side Two - I mean come on, the Ninth Wave is spectacular!)
Coincidentally, my first real boyfriend, Tom, had a part in that life changing year. I bought Hounds of Love, but not the tacky black vinyl. Oh no. I had the deluxe, grey vinyl (although they said it was pink. Maybe in England dun and pink mean the same thing). I don't think that I have ever played one album so much in my life. Tom and I even planned an evening when everyone was gone. You see we lived in a house with two other gay guys and privacy was at a premium. We put the album on and listened to it complete.. All the way through. Even now I can see the beige couch in that wonderful house on Prince Avenue in Athens. It was as if the we were being swallowed by the music. We half joked and half prayed that Kate would just MENTION our name in a song. Something akin to religion I guess. No that's not right, something akin to real emotion. Tom and that album will forever be linked.
Tom was HIV positive. He had a roving eye. Tom liked sex. Only sex, I guess didn't like Tom so much. Anyway, we broke up before The Sensual World was released. But the love was still there. He was my best friend. One night, not long before he died, he came over to my small little efficiency apartment in Atlanta and we listened to The Sensual World from beginning to end. Sort of Hounds of Love Part Two. He was so sick, and thin. But we got to share Kate. It wasn't long before Tom's condition worsened. A friend of Tom's named Harry Knox performed one of the most gracious acts any human has ever performed. He opened his home to Tom and me during Tom's last days. Hospice had provided a bed for Tom. I would lie next to him and sing in his ear "I know you have a little life in you yet, I know you have a lot of strength left… I should be crying but I just can't let it show… all the things we should have done but we never did.." "This Woman's Work" from the Sensual World was so full of regret, exactly what I was feeling.
Tom didn't live to see The Red Shoes released. I bought the album and set it aside for four days so I could have an evening with Kate uninterrupted, listening to this new album in that same space where we had shared The Sensual World. (well cd, yes, I went into the 20th century kicking and screaming, but I went) If anyone is reading this and you know me, you know that Kate can do no wrong… sort of. I wasn't convinced by The Red Shoes. I didn't love it. But as I was listening this song called "Moments of Pleasure" came on. To me it was all about trying to clear away any sadness and regret and look for the beauty and happiness. I loved it. The sweeping violins around the chorus… "Just being alive, it can really hurt." At that moment, yes it did. I wished Tom was there. Toward then end of the song, Kate mentions what I can only assume are people in her life of whom she has strong memories. I froze when she came to the line "Hey there Teddy, spinning in the chair at Abbey Road," The hackles stood up on the back of my neck. Tom did it… Somehow, he got Kate Bush to mention my name in "The Red Shoes." I still can't think about it without crying.
OK, enough with the maudlin. Overall, those years were dark for me. I sometimes tell my friends that they were the grey years, the bleakest period of my life. The President hated us, we were inexplicably dying, and I was scared.
This brings me to Director's Cut. Kate has gone back and reworked those two albums. Praise the dispassionate universe! There is so much of my baggage in those songs, and now their essence is changed. I listen to them and of course I think of yesterday. And yes, there is pain, but somehow it is different. I am not taken back, I am viewing it from here. The blow and the memories have been softened. And through Kate, maybe Tom has given me one more present.