Never mind her pol­i­tics. Kate Bush’s mu­sic speaks for it­self

The Guardian - Journal - - Opinion - Fiona Sturges

What does a Tory look like? Do they au­to­mat­i­cally come at­tired in Charles Tyr­whitt shirts and Bar­bour jack­ets, and have nat­u­rally boom­ing voices? Clearly such as­sump­tions are lu­di­crous, but there is a sense among some mu­sic fans that Tory-lov­ing pop stars should iden­tify them­selves – a badge, per­haps, or a spe­cial hat – in or­der that we may judge their ac­cept­abil­ity.

This cer­tainly would have pre­vented a world of grief for Kate Bush, who has just ended two years on the naughty step when she re­leased a state­ment clar­i­fy­ing her po­lit­i­cal views. In an in­ter­view with the Cana­dian mag­a­zine Ma­clean’s in 2016, Bush was re­ported as hav­ing ex­pressed sup­port for the new British prime min­is­ter, Theresa May, prompt­ing a fit of the vapours among her ad­mir­ers. Taken in con­text, the mean­ing of Bush’s quotes was ob­vi­ous. Dur­ing a dis­cus­sion about Hil­lary Clin­ton and the fear of women’s power, she voiced en­thu­si­asm for hav­ing a wo­man in charge. But this was lost in trans­la­tion, and our Kate was branded a Tory. More heartache en­sued in the flurry of press around the re­lease of her remastered back cat­a­logue and a book of lyrics late in 2018, prompt­ing – fi­nally – clar­i­fi­ca­tion on her web­site.

So now we can sleep soundly – ide­ally while hug­ging The Kick In­side to our chests – know­ing that Kate is not per­sona non grata af­ter all. She has been marked safe. But does it mat­ter ei­ther way? Were Bush to have re­ally outed her­self as a card-car­ry­ing Tory, my de­light in her records would be un­dented. It’s a symp­tom of the mod­ern age to righ­teously weed out dis­senters from our so­cial me­dia pages and freeze them from our so­cial cir­cles.

Now, it seems, we are do­ing it with our pop stars. But to look solely for mu­si­cians – or in­deed film-mak­ers, writ­ers and painters – who re­flect our world­view is not only to deprive our­selves of myr­iad artis­tic won­ders; it gives a de­press­ingly blink­ered view of the world. Gary Nu­man may have had Tory sym­pa­thies, but

Are “Friends” Elec­tric? is still a banger. Judg­ing artists purely on po­lit­i­cal lines also gives cre­dence to the be­lief among some lib­er­als that those on the left are good and those on the right are in­her­ently evil, as if con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics were an episode of Scooby-Doo (although that ac­tu­ally sounds quite fun).

While many of Bush’s fans may have felt dispir­ited at the idea that she could have planted her flag be­hind the ar­chi­tects of aus­ter­ity and Brexit, it was never that plau­si­ble. At the height of her fame, she wasn’t ex­actly known for her party-po­lit­i­cal pro­nounce­ments, while her songs about gen­der, power, sex and do­mes­tic­ity could ap­peal to lis­ten­ers of all stripes. And yet, ul­ti­mately, none of this re­ally mat­ters. Bush’s power and legacy lies in her peer­less abil­ity to tell sto­ries and cre­ate beauty through mu­sic. The rest is just noise.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.