The was a great documentary on television the other night, about female artists. Kate Bush was quite rightly came top.
She remains not only one of the most talented, inspirational female artists in the world, but one of the most talented, inspirational artists of either sex! She is unique, always has been. You know her history, her groundbreaking work.
What has always been interesting for me is that if you ask American female singers for influences, many name Kate Bush, and yet she failed to really make it in the States, simply because they didn’t know how to market her, which genre of radio station to aim her at and it is a shame she did not receive more recognition there.
Today she remains private, with few interviews for her new album. Years ago I was danced next to her, (well I moved my legs and arms, not sure I should call it dancing!). She was with someone from EMI at the time, she must have been around twenty. It was at a music industry awards dinner and she seemed delightful and professional for someone so young. She has remained driven and in control of her career, again like few others. At sixteen she took on the mighty EMI and demanded Wuthering Heights should be the first single from The Kick Inside. The rest is history of course but credit to EMI for believing in their artist – can’t see that happening today, can you?
There was another documentary also on, this time about Elton John and the early years. I have always liked Elton’s music, but am always disappointed that Bernie Taupin doesn’t get more recognition. His lyrics are some of the best ever written, and I was pleased that Bernie was a major part of the programme.
It was an intelligent programme, highlighting the change from what, for me, was Elton’s best period, the early albums, Madman Across the Water and the brilliant Tumbleweed Connection to his later years. Elton started off as a singer songwriter, beautiful melodies and lyrics but the programme examined his change from Reg to Elton and the personality change that went with it, which resulted in the silly costumes and wigs.
A friend of mine has close connections with Elton, mainly his old producer and his early band, and I couldn’t help wondering how he was feeling if he was watching it, the grasp of success just eluding him.
I know personally I wasn’t hungry enough, I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice my life to try and ‘make it’; I was too busy living the life of a rock star without actually being one – that’s actually someone else’s description of me at that time, but an accurate one probably. I read an interview with Dido years ago, when she said she had give up over two years of her life to make it, no social life, nothing.
I have a couple of personal Elton memories, (I won’t bore you with them now), thanks to one of the people who encouraged me as a kid, John Hall. John was the owner of the record store I worked in whilst still at school, after school and Saturdays, and the occasional school day – I remember a teacher, Mr Rees, (good Welsh name), calling the shop on a school day and asking for me. I picked up the phone thinking I was going to get yelled at but he asked me if I could bring in the latest Joni Mitchell album in school the next day, that is if I was gracing them with my appearance – his words, not mine!.
John opened and owned a club in Cardiff, the Revolution, a hippy club really. My parents went more than I did as I was too young really. I’d walk down Cardiff’s main street with my Dad and all these guys, long hair, bikers, would go, “Hey John” to my Dad. My Dad was very cool, but that’s another story.
John went on to be Managing Director of Elton’s record company, Rocket Records, and also launched Good Earth Records with Tony Visconti. Their first hit, a number one, was the Surprise Sisters with a cover of a song by another mentor of mine, Andy Fairweather-Low, La Booga Rooga.
I know I’ve been very, very blessed with my life and the people I’ve met, I’ve been so fortunate and lucky and I never take it for granted, indeed I appreciate it more today than ever, probably as we all do as we get older.
Here are three links to three videos of three great songs:
Kate Bush: http://youtu.be/raVfK6__rJ0
This track by Kate has been used to chilling effect in many programmes.
Elton John: http://youtu.be/GE2MmwUbC_E
Elton and Bernie’s haunting Talking Old Soldiers from Tumbleweed Connection. It was a choice between this and his performance on the Christmas Morecambe and Wise show of “Sorry seems to be the Hardest Word.”
and finally, Andy Fairweather-Low: http://youtu.be/k5FG3Ty3jD4
Andy’s classic Wide Eyed and Legless; got goose bumps just now watching it, so many memories, Rockfield Studios, and some of the finest musicians I’ve ever meet. Andy was and is so respected, and deservedly so. He hated appearing on this Mike Mansfield, kids show.