Friday, August 17, 2012

There Goes Kate Bush, Running up That Hill (Again).... to Big Boi?

Kate Bush perplexes me. Not just because I still have absolutely no idea what my favorite song by her, 1982's "The Dreaming," is about. Nor is it just because she hasn't toured since 1979, is rarely photographed in public, and takes forever-and-a-day breaks between studio albums then releases two in one year (2011's Director's Cut and 50 Words for Snow).

It's all of the above and more, including her no-show at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics. I was bewildered and thoroughly disappointed when I heard that Bush, who reportedly had been seen rehearsing in London for a possible live performance at the closing ceremony, was only represented by an unnecessarily remixed version of "Running up That Hill." I sort of had a feeling it was too good to be true, but could she possibly have had better things to do that night? (Same to Bowie and the Stones, featuring Mick "I will collaborate with and Jennifer Lopez, but I'm too good for the Olympics" Jagger, both of whom reportedly turned down invitations to appear.)

A friend recently told me that Kate Bush wasn't Peter Gabriel's first choice to record their iconic So duet "Don't Give Up." Supposedly, he wrote the song with Dolly Parton in mind. I find this almost unfathomable. I love Dolly and all, but it's not like she was particularly hot in 1986. I can't imagine she was anyone's first choice for anything that year. I would have had an easier time believing that it was Annie Lennox, who would have sounded a lot better on that song than Dolly. At least she bothered to show up at the closing ceremony.

But getting back to Bush... Okay, I get it. She's mercurial and eccentric. That's one of the things I love about her. Who else would write a song inspired by an erotically charged passage in James Joyce's Ulysses (her 1989 single "The Sensual World") and make it sound like a medieval come-on in a corset? Even the Cure's Robert Smith was impressed. I once read somewhere that when the single came out, he was so enthralled by it that he played the 45 for anyone who stepped foot into his house. (He confirmed this story when I interviewed him in the '90s.)

Now there's an idea: a Robert Smith-Kate Bush coupling. For such a reclusive artist, Bush works incredibly well when she's mingling with other people. "Don't Give Up" is a deserved classic. "Why Should I Love You?," her collaboration with Prince, is one of the best songs on her 1993 The Red Shoes album. And her Elton John duet, "Snowed In at Wheeler Street," is the finest moment on 50 Words for Snow.

There are tons of great artists I could dream about and have dreamed about collaborating with Bush. Outkast's Big Boi was never for ever one of them. But according to a tweet that he sent out on August 15, a Bush-Boi musical marriage might be on the table. "Just Got off the Phone with Kate Bush !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" he boasted (yes, boasted -- and if you were he, wouldn't you, too?). My first thought was, Thank God it's not Andre 3000! Then, What does Bush know about Outkast? Did she, like me, prefer "The Way You Move" (Big Boi's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below showcase) to "Hey Ya!" (Andre 3000's)?

Frankly, had I been pressed to compile a list of likely rap collaborators for Bush, Big Boi would not have made it. I surely would have ranked Andre 3000 as a more likely cohort. But Big Boi is certainly a far better prospect than Kanye West (so obvious), Lil Wayne (so over-exposed), or Drake (so wrong for messing with Aaliyah's memory). Eminem has already been with Dido, Pink and Rihanna; Nicki Minaj has already been with Madonna and everyone else, including Rihanna (of course!); and Jay-Z has already been with Linkin Park, Colplay and, yes, Rihanna.

The more I think about the idea of Kate Bush and Big Boi, the more I love it -- especially since he's not interested in doing one of these 2012-style collaborations by email courier in which the participants never enter the same studio, let alone the same continent. He wants to go into the studio with Bush and jam, produce something from scratch.

It wouldn't be as holy an alliance as making a deal with God, but if it gets Bush out of the house and running up that hill again, I'd accept Big Boi as her final destination.

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