Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ – how a song changed my life

This past Thursday [20 October] I took part in a very interesting live session, the OneTrackMinds at The Tabernacle, in London. OneTrackMinds consisted of two nights with six guests sharing stories about the song that changed their life and I believe this would be the time to confess that it took me less than a minute to choose my song.

I’ve always been a fan of Kate Bush’s work and, throughout the years, as I’ve learned more about her, I’ve realised that she’s not just a brilliant singer/songwriter, she’s also a strong minded woman who managed to take full charge of her career right from the start – and this is particularly important since she’s paved the way for so many up and coming artists that followed.

Kate dealt with life changing and life enhancing events, not the conveyor belt type of career. Making a difference is my mantra too and that cannot happen if you’re continually being pulled in all sorts of directions. One has to be stalwart in what you do and how it’s done. To me, she represents the perfect example of dictating her artistic terms right from the very beginning of her career. She made a point of being represented as Kate Bush the artist, not another female sexy woman who happens to write songs and sing.

For my talk, and with Kate Bush in mind, I chose ‘Wuthering Heights’, her first classic single. Originally, record company EMI’s Bob Mercer had chosen another track, ‘James and the Cold Gun’ as the lead single, but Kate was determined that ‘Wuthering Heights’ would be her first release. She won eventually in a surprising show of determination for a young musician against a major record company, and this would not be the only time she took a stand against them to control her career.

The release for the single was initially scheduled to be 4 November 1977. However, Bush was unhappy with the picture being used for the single’s cover and insisted it be replaced. EMI relented and put back the single’s launch until the New Year. Ultimately, this proved to be a wise choice, as the earlier released would have had to compete with Wing’s latest release ‘Mull of Kintyre’, which became the biggest-selling single in UK history up to this point in December 1977. Suffice to say that delaying the release to 20 January 1978 allowed ‘Wuthering Heights’ to rise to number 1 in less than four weeks.

This is just one of many reasons why Kate Bush has always been my top pick when it comes to nominating an inspirational person and someone proven to be worthy of studying when looking into the art of believing and listening – key ingredients to any career.

The event is really very special and would definitely be great as a TV or radio series. The other guests were so imaginative, intelligent and brilliant at delivering their stories. It was a real honour meeting them and seeing them in action.

 

Thursday October 20th
Dame Evelyn Glennie – Virtuoso Solo Percussionist
Lemn Sissay – Writer, Poet and Playwright
Charlie Dark – DJ, Poet and Writer
Ian Bruce – Artist, Musician, Lead Singer of THE CORRESPONDENTS
Pippa Evans – Comedian and co-creator of THE SUNDAY ASSEMBLY
Ross Sutherland  – Poet and Playwright

 

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