January 21, 2021

S1E1: The Legacy of Kate Bush


This, the first, episode of the podcast Tunes Past to Present explores the legacy of Kate Bush as expressed in today’s music especially two modern artists with similar musical tendencies and style.

There are a lot of ways to describe Kate Bush — quirky, campy, experimental, artistic, and poetic — but ultimately, she represented a strain in rock music that tried to be more than just three chords and a nice tune. Songs such as “Wuthering Heights” drew inspiration from literature and involved vocal gymnastics rarely seen in the music of the 1970s and 80s. More than just the music, Kate Bush had a sense of style. Often performing in flowing gowns rather than the more typical jeans and a t-shirt, she exuded a Gothic (but not Goth) look. With her flowing locks of red hair and wide eyes, she was unique visually as well as aurally.

Bush hit her high point in the mid 1980s with her masterpiece, Hounds of Love. For the first time ever, Kate Bush broke out of cult status in the US — she was always mainstream in the UK — and appealed to a mass audience. Her visuals were also perfect for the MTV era, being dramatic and unusual.

Two current artists are, to me, prominent torch bearers for the legacy of Kate Bush — AURORA and Florence + the Machine. They are not the only ones whose music in some way echos Kate Bush. The band London Grammar comes to mind. However, AURORA and Florence + The Machine come closest to the Kate Bush style, both musically and stylistically.

Kate Bush was, for the 70s and 80s, an artist who stood apart from the usual rock and new wave of the era. No one sounded or looked like her and she didn’t fit any genre at the time. That’s what made her both interesting and wonderful. In the ensuing decades, it would have been impossible to find other artists that you could point to and say “There is the next Kate Bush”. It took 35 years to finally have artists whose style and music echo Bush’s while still being themselves.

Check out the new episode and hear about the connections between these new artists and one of the most amazing and unique rock stars to ever grace us with her music. You can also catch the playlist that accompanies this episode on Spotify.

I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a peek ahead to the next episode, a rather personal one for me. Entitled, “Road to Ruin” I look at the history of punk rock and how it continues today. I am especially fascinated by the impact of women in the modern punk world. There is now doubt that women had a major impact on the early punk scene, especially Tina Weymouth, Patti Smith, and Joan Jett. Women, unfortunately, faded from the scene a bit in the 80s and into the 90s until the Grunge and Riot Grrrls put hard rocking, punk women to the forefront. Thankfully, that trend has reversed, and women are some of the frontrunners in the modern punk movement. I’m looking forward to that episode.