Sunday, 27 March 2011

Kate Bush - Breathing (1980/ No. 16/ 7 weeks/ EMI)

"Last night in the sky
Such a bright light
My radar send me danger
But my instincts tell me to keep
In, out, in, out, in, out"

You can do anything with pop music and still find an audience. To remind you: This is a song sung from the point of view of a foetus in the womb of a - possibly already dead - mother in the immediate wake of a nuclear holocaust. A top 20 smash!

I think that perhaps the thing that I love about this most is how imaginatively it manages to convey both the womb and the fall-out; Through heartbeat rhythms, through samples, through screaming, through backing vocals formed as questions, and most of all through tone, both songwriterly tone of verse/chorus changing perspectives and narrative, and pure tactile textural tone of backing drone and hum.

Both terrifying and inspiring, it is – like many great works of art - elemental and about the value of existence.

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