In 2014, the BBC aired a one-hour documentary on Kate Bush that we failed to report on. For this Kate Bush oversight, we deeply apologize.
Thankfully, the BBC chose to rerun the doc—The Kate Bush Story: Running Up That Hill—on January 2. We do not deserve a second chance to discover and discuss this important contribution to the Kate Bush historical archives, but we appreciate it all the same.
One main takeaway from The Kate Bush Story (which you can watch in its entirety above) is that the singer/songwriter—a bit of a recluse—doesn’t participate. (Bush rarely performs or gives interviews.) Instead, filmmakers dug up old footage with her and put it alongside new interviews with her collaborators and famous fans.
“When does the next Kate Bush come along after Kate Bush? There hasn’t been one,” opines Elton John. (He credits one Kate Bush/Peter Gabriel collaboration for helping him get sober.)
Outkast’s Big Boi says that “Running Up That Hill” is one of his “biggest musical influences.”
Both St. Vincent (Annie Clark) and Tori Amos tell stories about being so moved by Kate Bush songs that they had to pull over their cars to stop and listen.
But the documentary isn’t solely musicians gushing about Kate Bush (although who can blame them). It’s also a convenient primer course on who Bush is and where she came from.
While U.S. audiences aren’t as familiar with her as they are in the U.K., her influence (more obvious in some cases than in others) can be found all over the place—from Outkast to Chvrches to FKA twigs. 1978’s “Wuthering Heights” made Bush the first woman to have a number one with a self-penned song in the United Kingdom.
Bush used her advance from her first record to study dance with famed choreographer Lindsay Kemp, who describes her as a deeply shy and incredibly creative person.
“I have to say that once Kate actually started dancing, she was a wild thing,” Kemp says. “I mean, she was WILD.”
Throughout the course of her career, Bush’s work is seen as being fearlessly feminine and a raw reflection of her interpretation of womanhood. “Breathing” (1980) is described in the documentary as being “utterly political and utterly female” by author Neil Gaiman, and Natasha Khan (a.k.a Bat for Lashes) nearly chokes up when discussing Bush’s influence over her own female artistry:
“I really thank Kate because these touchstones like ‘This Woman’s Work,’ these kinds of songs—it’s celebrating everything that’s so wonderful about being a woman and being nurturing and intuitive and emotional and gentle and sensual and it’s just really intimate. People don’t put their hearts on the line in that vulnerable of a way very much and as an artist myself, it’s helped me to not be frightened to show as much of my vulnerability as a woman that I can and, in that, be powerful.”
In the ‘90s, Bush “retreat[ed] from public view after the death of her mother and split from [producing and romantic] partner Del Palmer.” Twelve years passed between the release of albums The Red Shoes (1993) and Aerial (2005). Stage fright and an aversion towards appearing in public keep her from appearing regularly—though she did perform a limited number of highly publicized performances in London in 2014.
The Kate Bush Story is unlikely to introduce anything new to the diehard Kate Bush fan, but you have to take what you can get. She exists and for this, we are lucky.
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