About The Songs

“Top of the City” by Butterfly Child

recorded, mixed and produced by joe cassidy at soft explosives, chicago

top of the city always resonated with me. i remember buying the red shoes album the day it came out and i loved this particular track instantly. there are some songs that i could never dream of covering like the sensual world as it is basically beyond perfect but top of the city felt like i could have fun with the arrangement and do my own spin on it, including the molly bloom references at the end. i listened to the live version from the before the dawn album, borrowed a couple of things from that and just got on with it really. it was a very fast recording process as i tracked everything in a day by myself in the studio and then worked on the mix for a little longer. 

kate bush is indescribable. her voice, her dancing, her beauty and her song writing will long live eternal.

~ joe cassidy

“You Want Alchemy” by Zapruder Point

I was requested to record “You Want Alchemy as part of a crowd-funding campaign. Recording a cover song was one of the “rewards” I was offering to backers. Kate Bush was a huge blind spot in my musical knowledge, but figuring out this b-side helped me grasp her energy a bit more. None of the lyrics rhyme, and the verses are downright free-form, which was a challenge – especially in the verses. But I really like the theme of finding the miraculous in the mundane, and while my lo-fi version could never touch the grandeur of the original, I was able to mimic the lift of the choruses, and I like to think it has a certain lightweight charm…

~ Dan Phillips

“Cloudbusting” by Yules

When Thomas offered me the opportunity to participate to this beautiful project, I was pretty scared that Cloudbusting would have already been chosen by other artists.  It had always been a dream of mine to sing this song. I possess a copy of Hounds of Love, and even though I’m not a huge Kate Bush fan, I have a lot of respect for her and for her discretion and humility.  More importantly, her voice is imprinted somewhere deep in my emotional memory as a child through the powerful Peter Gabriel duet with Kate, Don’t Give Up.

For Cloudbusting, I tried to stay close to the emotion of the song. I first thought that an acoustic guitar would be the key to change the sound of the original, but I quickly ran out of textures.  So, I incorporated some electronic sounds (programming, synthesisers…) and drums for the dancing side.

Then I summoned Kate’s voice as the epilogue of this journey.

I had a lot of fun creating this arrangement and I hope you’ll like it. 

~ Guillaume Charret

“Joanni” by Tristan an Arzhig

Tristan An Arzhig: Vocals, Violins, Bodhráns, Guitar, Didgeridoo, Low Whistle, Tin Whistle, Trumpet, Programming, Fire
Michel Foulon: Uilleann Pipes, Celtic Harp
Jeremy Unruh: Backing Vocals
Recorded at home by Tristan

In the summer of 2018, Thomas contacted me to say he was planning an expanded re-release of “I Wanna Be Kate”. When he told me that he wanted me to do one of the extra tracks, I was over the moon: I had really liked the original album, and to think I would be featured alongside these covers was a very exciting prospect. Then came the doubt: Apart from the little Celtic trad band I’m in, I just make music on my own at my home desk as a hobby, and these other people are real musicians, with access to proper recording equipment. On top of that, I had never really dared tackle a Kate song. Was I really going to rise to the occasion? I couldn’t pass on the opportunity; I was given a real challenge and I just had to give it my all.

The first question was which song to choose. Having listened to Kate all my life, I knew all of her songs inside and out. That made it all the more difficult to think of a cover that would take the song somewhere different, and not just replicate it. Thomas was adamant I do something French in my song. The first obvious choice was “Ne t’enfuis pas”, but I wasn’t sure how to approach the music, and I much prefer singing in languages other than my own. Then I thought of “Joanni” and its spoken words. “Aerial” had always been a difficult album for me to get into, and that was going to make the challenge even more… well… challenging, but also really interesting. I was attending the Interceltic Festival in Lorient when Thomas asked me to do this, and I used that energy to think up what made the most sense to me: a Celtic version of the song. Given the music I usually play, this was the natural way to go. And why not – Kate had turned “Rocket Man” reggae after all!

I was only given a month to complete the project. So I took out all my instruments and spent all the time I could figuring things out, writing and recording. Everything was recorded at home. I used the talents of Michel Foulon from Puffin on uilleann pipes and Celtic harp. On top of the Celtic instruments, I made it a point to include some didgeridoo, which Kate has always been keen on.

The reel at the end of the song is in three parts: the first one is the traditional “The Emyvale”, the middle section is by me, and the last one is from “Call Across the Canyon” by Davy Spillane, which was a wink to Kate’s long-time collaborator.

I hope Joanni enjoys her journey to Ireland. After all she’d been through, she deserved a little holiday.

~ Tristan an Arzhig

“Among Angels (Live in Denmark)” by Grimeland

To me, this song belongs to a particular category of Kate songs. Since The Sensual World, there has always been a song from this family on a Kate Bush album, beginning with This Woman’s Work. But the roots go all the way back to The Man With The Child In His Eyes, which means all the way back to Kate’s very early start as a songwriter. Moments Of Pleasure and A Coral Room belong to this family of songs as well. These songs are quite slow, they have a very free rhythm, and the production is pure and simple, with the piano up front. The lyrics are heartfelt, compassionate and moving. This is Kate in her original and stripped down incarnation as a singer/songwriter – a Kate that a lot of fans really, really love. That’s why it was so wonderful when her penultimate encore in Before The Dawn was Among Angels. There she was, virtually alone with her piano, giving herself to the audience as a master singer, songwriter and musician. So many people would die to have her go on a full tour just like that, but it’s seemingly not what she wants. She is such a creative soul, and if she is to do live work, she wants it to be a thrilling cornucopia of storytelling, visual effects, dance etc. That’s wonderful, but so is Kate on her own, by the piano.I wanted to interpret the song with great respect for the original. I tried to tighten it up very slightly, and give it just a hair more rhythm and direction. The recording was done in the simplest possible way, by myself in my living room.

~ Gaute Grimeland

I discovered Gaute’s beautiful voice online when he posted a video of himself playing the piano and singing the most gorgeous and truly engrossing cover of This Woman’s Work that I’ve ever heard – and we’ve all heard plenty of versions as its probably Kate’s most covered tune. Yet, this was in his living room in Denmark. I was transfixed and moved to tears. Ok, I was bawling my eyes out. I left a comment on the post: “Its TOO beautiful…sublime. My head can’t handle it…my heart is undone. The only relief is a selfish harmony here and there which in turn only reinforces my inadequacies. Gaute, you MUST get into a studio and record this for me…if you care at all about humanity.” I was desperate. Who was he? Where was he? How do I pronounce his name? I already had one song in the can for the aspirational IWBK – Too album, maybe I could get Gaute to contribute. One song I wanted desperately from my list of songs not covered on the original release of IWBK was The Infant Kiss from the gently represented Never For Ever album. I knew his voice would be so powerful on that song. He indulged me. It was breathtaking. …and the world was changing before our eyes. Fascism made real on the streets of Europe and America. Attacks on LGBTQ folk were on the rise, despite some legislative progress such as the establishment of marriage equality by public vote in Ireland. Religious extremism continues to poison our society and creates unsafe space for nuance and mystery. Gaute and I had a very serious heart to heart talk and it was decided that we could not risk the casual conflation of that incredible song’s amazing subject and storyline with the same accusations that Kate suffered upon its initial release. I got to hear it. It lived. It was beautiful. But now, we needed to find something just as, or even more beautiful than The Infant Kiss. I told Gaute that I couldn’t release this expanded edition without a song from each album. I needed something from 50 Words For Snow. Among Angels hit us like a ton of bricks. Gaute recorded the song in his living room on his piano. There were limitations on the source tape with a patch here and there, but the performance was exquisite and real. He asked me if it could be tweaked in the mixing process and in my naïveté (and not being a sound engineer!), I said “I’m sure it can be!” Please just let me have it. If we need you to go into a studio to lay it down again we’ll work that out. Fast forward two years to the mixing process taking place just two months before the release date! It was too late to get Gaute into the studio to re-record the song as the album was mixed and mastered and ready to go. On my life I would not let this most beautiful recording be orphaned just because the tracking process was inadequate. I listen to this song everyday; I adore it and it brings me great comfort. I hope it will serve your heart in the same way.


“A Coral Room” by Michael Ross

Thomas approached me with a challenge to find a Kate Bush song from a few of her more recent albums, specifically Aerial and 50 Words for Snow. I had them on repeat and listened; sometimes only half-listening. When ‘A Coral Room’ came on it struck me immediately, just from its ethereal sound and flow and seeming lack of tempo. It sounded beautiful and when I really listened to the lyrics and researched them, I saw that the song was about grief and the loss of her mother. At that point I knew it was the song for me – I lost my mother in 2005 and the grief is continual. 

After many readings of the lyrics and practicing the song, I decided the song was finally my own and recorded it myself accordingly. The bridge is my favorite part. Bush takes us into a dreamlike flashback of her childhood with memories of her mother. I’ve never heard a song do that before and I find it very moving. 

I often think grief is like swimming in the middle of a sea. You have to tread water and stay afloat, and sometimes you may lose your energy and almost drown, but you have to kick back up to the surface and keep swimming. Like I said, when I ready the lyrics, I knew A Coral Room was the song for me:

“And the planes came crashing down
And many a pilot drowned
And the speed boats flying above
Put your hand over the side of the boat
What do you feel?” ~ KB

“Nocturn” by Tom Dunning & Your Boyfriends featuring Carol Keogh

Carol Keogh – Lead Vocal and Backing Vocals Thomas Dunning – Second Voice and Backing Vocals Michael Stevens – Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars, Bass, Piano, Bongos, Shakers, Programmed Kick Drum Nora O’Connor – Backing Vocals Liam Davis – Backing Vocals, Tambourine, Drums

Musical Direction by Mike Stevens Arranged by Mike Stevens and Liam Davis Mixed by Liam Davis

“L’Amour Looks Something Like You” by Thomas Dunning

It was December 1997. This was one of the first two songs recorded for the album. We went into the studio at about 10am with the intent of spending an 8 hour day. We were to record L’Amour Looks Something Like You and Nora O’Connor’s The Saxophone Song at the same time, using most of The Aluminum Group’s musicians for both songs. Specifically, Eddie Carlson, John Blaha and John Ridenour. The Aluminum Group and Nora worked out a deal with the studio. We would spend an hour or so on L’Amour, and then an hour or so on The Saxophone Song. This went back and forth all day, and then all night. The studio was so generous that it seemed like they were robbed the day we laid these tracks down. It would be almost 5am the next day before Ken Sluiter and Dave “The Pulsars” Trumfio (the engineer and producer, respectfully), Frankie Navin, John Ridenour and myself would walk out of the studio with two of the most beautiful recordings of Kate Bush songs in the world. (Frankie still has my winter scar

There was a moment when I was sitting on the couch in the engineering room, listening to Johnnie Navin sing a harmony part on L’Amour when I realized that there was no turning back on this project. Up until that moment, there had always been an out. But here were all these well known and respected Chicago music folks, showing up for my project. This was it, “It’s really happenin’ to ya! You gotta dance!”

Aside from the orchestral blasts, two of my favorite things about this track are the way Liz Conant makes her keyboards sound like a sweet French horn(or is that an oboe?). And Frankie Navin’s R&B vocal improvising at the end of the song. I tried to emulate what he was doing when I recorded the ending of Not This Time in the very same room a few months later. I love where his voice goes over the limit and into feedback, it reminded us of the old 1960’s Philly soul groups recordings. You can’t plan that kind of mistake, and we were so excited when we heard it, we just knew we wanted to keep it.

The Aluminum Group got signed to Minty Fresh Records (the label that found the Cardigans, Veruca Salt and Komeda), a few short weeks after L’Amour was recorded. You can imagine the excitement around this project at that time, thinking about the possibilities… We thought maybe L’Amour Looks Something Like You might be on the Romeo & Juliet II soundtrack. Anyway…back to reality, or at least Teletubbieland.

Eddie Carlson, as a member of The Aluminum Group, Mouse (Coffee Homeground), and Susan Voelz’s Band (The Sensual World), played bass on these three tracks, along with Nora O’Connor’s The Saxophone Song, Catherine Smitko’s Jig Of Life, and my own Not This Time. His bass playing is truly a foundation on the record, a near-constant thread that almost pays its own special tribute to Del Palmer, Kate’s bass player of many, many years. Anyone who listens to Kate Bush knows the value of a good bass player, as her recordings never shy away from creative and unique bass lines. I think Eddie tried to make sure that we did the same thing. Thanks Eddie. (Eddie’s other band is Poi Dog Pondering.)

~ Thomas Dunning

“The Sensual World” by Susan Voelz

You know, I wrote it…then I moved. So I gotta find it again.

~ Susan Voelz

“Hounds of Love” by The Moviegoers

In the early days of MTV, when I was a kid, I remember sitting there watching old Rockpile appearances and Shoes videos – then here comes this woman all in white with wind blowing at her, squeaking and wailing and bubbling through some song about a guy named Heathcliff. I thought ‘jesus who is this chick?’ I was sort of terrified and fascinated by the sound of the song. I couldn’t really make out the words, but it was obvious that whatever they were, she MEANT them!

It’s this sort of drama in Kate Bush’s vocals that eventually led me to check her out further–the murky, subdued phrases interrupted by the shimmery high stuff and then the Yoko-shreiky bits. It wasn’t until I heard “The Dreaming” that I began to appreciate the way that Kate often pairs a very concrete narrative with sublimated abstraction in mood. I think it is nowhere better showcased than in Hounds of Love, in which the singer clearly states her fear of impending intimacy in the verses, only to break into a delirious, joyful, and terrified sprint in the “here I go” choruses. It reminds me of the way a child runs from a tickling parent, knowing that he/she will be caught. The ambiguity and intensity of the mood in Hounds of Love is what made me choose it for the Moviegoers.

~ Liam Davis, The Moviegoers

“The Man With The Child In His Eyes” by Syd Straw

I cannot begin to express the sheer and utter awe I experienced during the recording sessions on this song.  It was just the four of us, Syd, Dag Juhlen on guitars, Jim Meyering the engineer, and myself.  I was in charge of holding a baffle in between Syd and Dag so that Syd’s voice wouldn’t be picked up on Dag’s guitar mic and vice versa. It was a small but efficient room we were all crammed into.

As I sat at Syd’s feet on the floor of the studio, I was really pinching myself and thinking “No, you are NOT sitting here listening to Syd Straw sing The Man With The Child In His Eyes for your Kate Bush tribute album.” (The producer was cool as a cucumber.  I couldn’t let on that the fan in me was about to overdose on the situation.)

I kept taking mental photographs. This is one of my favorites: Syd standing at the mic and holding the LP of The Kick Inside album.  I had the lyrics printed out for her just in case, and even though she knew the words, she preferred to read them off the back of the album cover.  It was how  imagined so many of us singing along to Kate in our private concert halls, the bedroom

When Syd did her harmony vocal I thought that Annie Lennox must have walked in the room, because when Syd sings low like that, she shares a certain tonal quality with Annie.  But of course it wasn’t Annie, it was Syd just being amazing.

Syd Straw was a complete gift to this project.   I am beyond grateful and honored for the opportunity to have worked with a true master.

~ Thomas Dunning

“There Goes A Tenner” by The J Davis Trio

Before my dear friend Tom approached me about this project, the only thing I knew about Kate Bush was that ballad she did with Peter Gabriel. I had heard he was gonna ask us to be on some compilation. I was so happy to be included on any legitimate project that I remember when Tom asked, before he could get the second word out, I said “We’ll do it, whatever it is!” Then when I found out who, I was like “Uh-oh. I have no idea who this person is.” Tom gave me a tape with six songs on it and one of them was “Why Should I Love You?,” Kate’s duet with Prince. I decided on the Prince one before even hearing it because I figured since I loved Prince, he would bridge the gap somewhat. When I told Tom, he said to think about “There Goes A Tenner.” It really didn’t matter to me at the time – one was as good as the other. Now I am so thankful Tom’s vision and sense of style steered us in that direction. Looking back I think some of the other ones wouldn’t have given us the room to play around as much. Reinterpreting her lyrics helped me to understand and respect Ms. Bush a lot artistically cause its hard to think that shit up!

~ Stuart, The J Davis Trio (aka Julio Davis)

“The Saxophone Song” by Nora O’Connor

If you could have seen me in high school, locked in my room lip-syncing “Sat In Your Lap” to the mirror on my dresser–What a performance!

Tom turned me on to Kate in high school and after the 3rd or 4th time sitting through “The Man With The Child In His Eyes,” I was hooked.

Kate has a rainbow of voices and she sings so yummy on “The Saxophone Song.” Thanks Tommy Cheddar, I’m honored.

~ Nora O’Connor

“You’re The One” by Justin Roberts

Tom asked me if I’d like to contribute a song to the tribute and suggested I choose something from “Red Shoes” since it was not represented yet. He gave me about 4 songs from the record on a tape and the first song was “You’re The One.” While I thought the song was great, I wasn’t too crazy about the 1980’s synth production (even though it was recorded in ’93). I was thinking of ways to strip the song down to its essence. My first idea was just acoustic guitar and standup bass but when I went to practice with Liam Davis (who I asked to produce it) he suggested fender rhodes, electric bass, and percussion with a trio of backup singers like a 60’s soul record. I loved the idea so Liam and I returned to the studio where we had recorded my childrens record and knocked off the song in an evening. Many, many, thanks to Liam, Jackie, Liz, and Stephanie for help making the song possible and to Tom for putting this wonderful project together.

~ Justin Roberts

“Coffee Homeground” by Mouse

On March 11, 1998, Tom Dunning phoned to tell me that there were five extra minutes of space on his CD. I knew I could fill those five minutes, but with what? Every band I was in was either already on the CD or indisposed. Tom mentioned Mouse, who fell into the latter category. He’d seen us the previous summer in one of an ongoing series of occasional farewell concerts. We were saying farewell that time because Jackson Wilson, our guitarist, was moving to San Francisco. Despite this obvious hindrance, Mouse, after a few phone calls, developed the perhaps unreasonable conviction that those five minutes had our name on them.

With what song would we fill those precious minutes?

After Tom set the condition that the song must come from one of the three under-represented albums — LIONHEART, NEVER FOR EVER, or THE RED SHOES — and I took into account the fact that Mouse only records songs dealing with certain subject matters (i.e. undeserved death, ill-advised military expeditions, greed and piety, mayhem), it was obvious that we had only one choice: “Coffee Homeground.” (OK, two choices, but we didn’t want to do “Army Dreamers.”)

Jackson flew in on Saturday night, March 28, 1998. We spent five hours together on Sunday, playing through the song maybe forty times until it sounded like a Mouse song. We decided to mostly de-oompah the song and imagined it as a drug addict’s paranoid delusions, a woman lying on the ground in squalor thinking she’s been poisoned by a man who covets her t.v. or the $3 in her filthy jeans. We recorded and mixed the song on Monday and Tuesday with the generous help and expertise of Bob Weston.

If anything is not clear, please re-read this.

~ Eddie Carlson, with Jackson and Jenny, Mouse

“The Jig of Life” by Catherine Smitko

Many years ago my brother, Vash, and I would drive around in this old, gargantuan car, late at night, listening to mixtapes. Assorted Goodie Tapes. We would find ethereal music to transport us from stupid suburbia to a Once and Future Place That Doesn’t Suck. So, this one night we were flying around to a new tape he had put together, laughing wildly, when the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. A song both alluring and dangerous soared, careening between pleas and power, ending in a fevered pitch. “WHAT WAS THAT?” I demanded. Hence, my deliverance to “Jig Of Life.”

It was a trip in the studio. We did almost everything backwards. The drummers were available first, so here we are with seven drummers laying down twelve different drum tracks. Well, the kicker was that there were no melodic instruments available to play along with yet, so they recorded with Kate’s “Jig Of Life” playing in their left ear. Same with the bass (which I just love bowed). In fact, my mother and daughter and I put down our vocal tracks with Kate in our left ear. Rather like doing the song *with* her instead of *for* her. The fiddle and whistles and pipes were recorded on our last night in the studio. Needless to say, our engineer Steve was decidedly on top of the game.

I love the dynamics of the song. Sometimes a subtle whispering from behind. Other times, a great burst of anguish. So many characters want this drowning woman to hear them. I heard the Maiden/Mother/Crone calling to her to continue, and it then seemed to me that “Jig Of Life” was created from the very elements; I hear the fiddle, pipes, and whistles as the water, relentlessly whirling and beckoning.; as the earth, the bass and male cantors, pulling and tugging.; the guitar and drums, taunting and driving like a fire out of control; and, finally, from the air, some great presence commanding her to take a deep breath and complete her life.

“Jig Of Life” is truly epic and I am so grateful to have been granted this group of people wanting to make it come to be, once again.

~ by Catherine Smitko, 27 July 1998

“The Kick Inside” by Victoria Storm

I was in the car with my mother in 1985, crabby. Something on the radio caught my ear like nothing before. I turned up the radio and tuned out my mother. Out of the speakers came a voice so unusual, so sensual, so plaintive. I plunged myself into her recordings with a voracious appetite, listening to her cassettes on my little walkman, tuning out my adolescent world. Kate showed me what music was. Kate showed me what being definitive in one’s thinking meant. Kate showed me that I could laugh, scream, feel sexy, be angry, and live though music. I remember countless hours sitting at my piano, emulating the beauty and power that I felt from Kate, my most important music teacher.

I approached recording “The Kick Inside” with the intention of simplicity, allowing the beautiful song to sing for itself. I invited the wonderful Blue Turtle Tea Party to provide the groove for me to croon to. We recorded it at Aras (pianist) and Rim’s (co-producer) parents’ house, using the gorgeous grand piano that they both grew up playing. We recorded it live, then added the finishing touches at the studio.

Kate wrote “The Kick Inside” from the inspiration of an old English folk song, “The Ballad of Lucy Wan”, taking the story of the incestuous love relationship between a 14 year old girl and her brother which resulted in pregnancy and her tragic suicide. I love the tragedy, the true and deep love, and the longing to which this tune speaks. There’s a part of me that felt like if I sang this song, I could somehow change the ending and save this poor lost soul. I’ve taken her into my heart, hoping that someday she can see a better way, and I can be her big sister in times of crisis, as Kate was for me.

The lass offed herself anyway. Ho hum.

~ Victoria Storm

“Running Up That Hill” by The Baltimores

When Tom asked us to be a part of this incredible project I thought, “cover a Kate Bush song? No Problem.” But the task ahead ended up being far more challenging than I could have ever imagined. At practice we batted around a few interpretations, but we weren’t really satisfied. We felt it wasn’t enough.

During the few days between practices, I went to a sensory deprivation tank in hopes that it would give me a few ideas. I didn’t make any progress on the Kate Bush song but I did end up writing a song called, “Here I Am Floating In A Big Black Box.” Anyway, by the next practice Davey Smith came in with a well thought out sketch that ended up being our contribution to the album.

~ Dave Winer of The Baltimores

“Home For Christmas” by Jim Diamond Greene

I originally learned “Home For Christmas” almost note for note, the way Kate performed it, guitar and vocals and that version was OK, really. But when I began experimenting with the tune and came up with my own arrangement, I found that I could put more emotion and experience into the vocals and 2nd guitar parts. The tune epitomizes the longing and then joy that one experiences when one learns that that special someone will be with them during a time of year when no one wants to be alone. Listening to Kate’s version of “Home For Christmas”, its obvious to me that she’s been there before, you know, has longed for someone, then became exhilarated upon knowing that together they WILL be, even if only for a few days or so. I hope that when people hear my version of “Home For Christmas,” that they come to understand that I have been there as well.

~ Diamond Jim Greene

“Suspended in Gaffa” by My Scarlet Life

How appropriate that My Scarlet Life has ended up working on a song from THE DREAMING. Much –though not all– of Kate’s music WAS my dream for many influential years. Her LPs were a fount of mystic connection, where I would go to drink regularly. Nourished, inspired –and intimidated!– I would then begin work on my own expression through sonics. She was one of many teachers I never met (and I’d like to keep it that way –the mythology of Kate is much more important as inspiration to me than the reality of Kate).

I actually found the process of choosing from Kate cuts quite interesting. Upon listening, there were foriegn-sounding songs sandwiched between others I remembered well. Obviously, memory has played some tricks on me. And certain songs “felt” much different today than the many years ago when I first heard them, including the one My Scarlet Life chose to cover: “Suspended In Gaffa”.

So, for my part in the process, I tried to work from the re-activated memory of my original reaction to the song: wonderment and bliss. Where now I found the song a bit shrill and complicated, I tried to pull it toward what Kate has called “The Sensual World”, what MSL calls “Earotica.” Not that Kate needs our help! –but the goal was to remold and recast the song for these times, and in another band’s image. That being done, I’m very happy. And honored to be associated. And once again, there’s proof of Kate’s ability to inspire.

That Ms. Bush could document her thoughts and feelings as accurately and as powerfully as she did remains an inspiration to me. She’s a twinkling goddess-star in my personal heaven!

~ Preston Klik, My Scarlet Life

I decided that I wanted to be a singer in 1991, when I began writing songs with a musician friend of mine in Florida. I didn’t know much about songwriting or singing for that matter, but I had always loved listening to music. I hadn’t heard of Kate Bush yet. When I left Vero Beach, Florida to pursue singing in a larger town, my first stop was Atlanta, Georgia. There I auditioned as a singer for several bands. One guitarist, I don’t remember his name, said I should check out Kate Bush because she was his favorite female vocalist and he thought I would like her too.

He made a tape for me. It changed my life.

I never knew that music like that existed. So much soul and passion and emotion, raw and gentle, so intensely feminine, yet so lovingly masculine. It was an eye-opener–it was at that point that I started imagining the possibilities of my own voice. And not only that, her lyrics were so beautiful and poetic, and sung in strange cadences–I felt I was witnessing perfection. It is not the stale perfection that Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey might achieve, but the perfection of a crooked house or a child wearing one shoe or a sweet-natured but ugly dog. The perfection of something that is off center, yet balanced–a Japanese flower arrangement, simple, textural, off-kilter, balanced to perfection, so pleasing to the senses, Kate Bush’s music has had an immeasurable influence on my musical life. I am forever in debt to her–and to the guy who’s name I don’t remember, I am forever thankful. I think there are only two reasons to cover anyone else’s song: to do a song better than the original or to take it somewhere it didn’t go before. No one can do Kate Bush’s songs better than she can–we can only mutate them and make them our own. We debated for a while over whether or not to drop some of the verses–would the song lose meaning? Would we still be doing a cover if a lot of words were dropped? We chose to rearrange the flowers and prune the leaves. I hope she’ll like it.

A bit long winded, but I hope you can use it all. Thanks Thomas. I just want to say thank you for allowing me to be a part of your dream–I don’t think I ever thanked you. You have helped me fulfill one of my dreams as well. To pay tribute to one of the most talented performers ever. See you soon.

~ Julie Schreiber, My Scarlet Life

“Kashka From Baghdad/Babooshka” by The Plunging Necklines

“Why a medley?” some of you may be asking. And well you might, unless you are already acquainted with the Plunging Necklines and their belief that there are so many good songs in the world — why not do all of them, all at the same time? We were thrilled that Tom Dunning decided to accommodate our musical addiction (fetish?) and give us not only “Kashka from Baghdad” but “Babooshka”. He told us, “If you can’t put them together, just do Kashka and that’ll be O.K.” — something akin to waving a blood-soaked rag under a police dog’s nose and then suggesting that it take a little nap…we had the scent and we were off, barking and frisking joyfully (all right, perhaps this isn’t the most accurate description of our working process. Most of the time we sit on chairs and behave in a ladylike fashion).

It seemed to us that the songs shared a preoccupation with spying, gossip, subterfuge and mystery. According to the delightful ladies at the Parents’ Music Resource Center, these songs are about “Voyeurism, infidelity, and homosexuality”. They see this as some sort of problem, apparently; sounds to me like a really successful party. We thought of neighborhood women whispering these stories to each other and also of children sneaking around, peeking in windows and speculating about half-understood adult activities. We even considered the possibility that Kashka’s unknown lover might actually be Babooshka’s husband.

Several weeks of musical cutting and pasting followed, and then we went into the studio, where we did the standard stuff: twirled toy carousels, sang through telephones and bruised our thighs with vibraslaps (video available). Thankfully, our engineer Ellis Clark, had an open mind — and two phone lines. Thanks also to Liam Davis of The Moviegoers for moral support, to my partner Jacquie for thinking a lot like I do (and for having much more concrete ideas than I did about how to get our concepts on tape), to the fabulous Tom Dunning for asking us to be a part of the project, and of course to Kate Bush for her remarkable creativity and vision.

~ Meg Guttman, The Plunging Necklines 

“Love and Anger” by Trinkets of Joy

Hope…despair…empathy…loathing…the crush…the crash…ahhh, the Rubberband Girls’s sonic painting from “The Sensual World” dripping with ambiguity. Kate says this is the song she knows the least about from that album. Emotional? Yup. Spiritual? Could be. Sometimes the stuff comes from who knows where. This track hit me hard on a visceral level the first time I heard it; it stuck with me. It was (I’m ashamed to admit) my first exposure to the artist known as Kate.

When I heard about this tribute record, we decided it would be fun to record it. We did it solely for Tom the producer as a gift, as we understood there wasn’t any room left for more songs on the record. Due to cancelations by other artists we are blessed to be included amongst some very talented peers.

Tom, thanks for the opportunity to be a part of this. You are a beautiful human being and we are lucky to have you as a friend. Kate can be proud that someone would go to such great lengths to pay tribute to her music.

Hope…despair…empathy…loathing…the crush…the crash…ahhh, the Rubberband Girls’s sonic painting from “The Sensual World” dripping with ambiguity. Kate says this is the song she knows the least about from that album. Emotional? Yup. Spiritual? Could be. Sometimes the stuff comes from who knows where. This track hit me hard on a visceral level the first time I heard it; it stuck with me. It was (I’m ashamed to admit) my first exposure to the artist known as Kate.

When I heard about this tribute record, we decided it would be fun to record it. We did it solely for Tom the producer as a gift, as we understood there wasn’t any room left for more songs on the record. Due to cancelations by other artists we are blessed to be included amongst some very talented peers.

Tom, thanks for the opportunity to be a part of this. You are a beautiful human being and we are lucky to have you as a friend. Kate can be proud that someone would go to such great lengths to pay tribute to her music.

~ Tommi Zender, Trinkets of Joy          

“And Dream of Sheep” by Thomas Negovan

“What Kate Bush Means To Me” or, “Blowing The Lid Off The Ron of Japan Myth.”

There are bats outside my window as I write this.

“And Dream Of Sheep” is, as you know, a song about drowning. Having never drowned, I felt I needed a reference. It timed out well that after my last visit to our ethereal friends at Area 51 in Nevada I was able to continue on to Hollywood, and the ocean at Venice Beach… but that’s a whole other story.

I was able to walk out onto that pier and take what energy and perception of such a strong force of water that I needed; beautiful and terrible, drowning, the most romantic of demises, eternal, and eternally yielding. There are a lot of souls down there.

I had spent a few candlelit evenings in my bathtub under the water, staring peacefully at the shadowed ceiling. This originally helped immensely, but I needed a deeper push before my recording session to stimulate that source… A friend recommended (unrelatedly) a trip to the flotation tanks: (Oh, no!) A confrontation of claustrophobic fears and childhood anxieties; hadn’t she seen Altered States?

To end our story, it was a wonderful experience. My less-than-relaxed partner asked, “didn’t it scare you to not know where you were?” but I found it immensely helpful to spin myself around repeatedly until I lost the sense of direction I did have.

A pleasantly unexpected sidebar was the curious three-dimensional text that revealed itself to me through a funnel of light, but that, again, is another story.

~ Thomas Negovan, October 10, 1998, Chicago

“Not This Time” by Tom Dunning and Your Boyfriends

I have always loved anthems. They are truly a special kind of song, able to create a sense of belonging in this alienating world. Since my first listening in 1986 of “Not This Time” on the b-side of THE BIG SKY 12″ single, it has been my favorite Kate Bush song. It was in fact the song that sparked the whole project for me. I wanted one of my friends to record it for the CD. It turned out that I was more excited about this song than anyone else was, so we figured ‘what the heck, take a crack at it’.

I’ve always heard a pivotal line in the song as “I feel you-and I forget myself”, but I’ve found that the lyrics are written in some places as “I fear you”. Well, after years of hearing a song and having it mean something to you, “I fear you” just didn’t work for me (personally, I’ve always had a much harder time dealing with emotional and psychological violence than with physical violence, which may be why I heard the line as “feel you” and not “fear you”). I think that by singing “feel”, the site of activity is placed inside the character rather than outside. The internal feelings become the subject, rather than the fear of some external force.

The collaboration on this song is an amazing tale, and you may need a score card to follow all of this…it started with my asking John Ridenour to produce the song for me. He said he would, then asked me to send a tape of Kate’s original version out to a friend of his in California. This friend turns out to be none other than JHNO, the awesome mixer who has worked with Thomas Dolby and plays in the band Spool. JHNO laid down not only the drum beats and rhythm loops, but the piano as well. Then he sent back the tape to us and I just freaked out. It was in the moment of hearing the opening beats and piano that I knew I would actually be making a record.

John Ridenour and I met with Eddie Carlson and worked out the rhythm guitar and bass parts. The big insane guitar in the minor section at the end of the song, and drippy Edge-like and e-bow parts in the major sections, were created by John in the studio.

Then we called in the vocalists….where do I begin? Let’s start with my notes from the session:

“At 4 o’clock Nora O’Connor, Victoria Storm, and Cathy Smitko showed up to record their back-up vocals, which are awesome and they sound like a gospel choir of angels. At the end of the song they sing the same thing over and over again for two minutes straight (which they sang live all the way through). When they came out of the recording room they were all sweating and looked like they had just run a marathon. They did it like 3 or 4 times and they were really belting it out! It sounds amazing.”

At the time I was thinking that this may be the only song I’ll ever record-so I want the best. Cathy Smitko and I have been friends since I was 14 or 15 years old. That’s over half my life. She is such a gifted and talented vocalist that I remain in sheer and utter awe when I listen to her sing. Nora O’Connor and I have been dear friends since I was 16 or 17 years old. When we were much younger, Nora and Cathy would often rip it up for us at parties with over-the-top renditions of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” and “Wild Thing” that would have the rest of us on the floor laughing and crying at the same time. Nora has a warm, rich and soulful quality as well as an amazing ability to harmonize. Victoria Storm is a new friend with a gorgeous soprano and an understanding of the structure of music that amazes me. She sings the top part in the 3-part harmony, and she also helped sculpt the gorgeous descant that Liam Davis sings during the ‘Too-ree-aye’s’.

Mr. Davis is without question one of the most talented musicians I’m ever likely to meet. I remember the night we recorded “Not This time” — I came home and wrote a letter to my family.

“January 19, 1998.

Liam Davis of The Moviegoers, who had done all the vocal arrangements for the female parts, was with us in the studio and I had him do two parts underneath what the women were singing. I was moved to tears when he was recording his parts…it was that beautiful, I felt like the universe was sending me a gift to put on my song as kind of like its seal of approval that I was on the right path…I think we got it in one or two takes and I have to say that it’s one of the most gorgeous male vocal parts I’ve ever heard in my life.”

I am beyond grateful to these fine, fine musicians for moments of pleasure that I will carry with me always.

~ Thomas Dunning