The B-side on Kate Bush’s 12-inch single of Running Up That Hill (1985) was “Under the Ivy.” That record and a number of her other albums on vinyl, CD and digital are in my collection. She’s always intrigued me with her unique and beautiful voice, and her magical performances on the many official videos produced to accompany her music and show other talents, such as mime and dance.
After not listening to her for some time, I became reacquainted with her sound when, several years after its release, I found a copy of her 2005 two-CD album, Aerial. A Christmas list item for me a few years ago, which I thankfully received rom one of our boys, was her magnificent, three-CD live set, Before the Dawn (2016). I can only imagine what an experience it would have been to be at one of those concerts.
Bush’s style is quite varied, often quirky, and it’s not for everyone. But there are some pieces, like today’s, that I think just about any listener would love. Others, like “This Woman’s Work,” are beautiful works of compassionate love, acknowledging and comforting the anguish so many suffer. My listening today started with “And Dream of Sheep,” which is another beautiful song about tragedy.
She’s not all about sad, though. There are many upbeat and whimsical songs in her repertoire. Honestly, I don’t listen to enough Kate Bush. But today I am remedying that.
When interviewed about “Under the Ivy” in 1985, Bush said, “It’s very much a song about someone who is sneaking away from a party to meet someone elusively, secretly, and to possibly make love with them, or just to communicate, but it’s secret, and it’s something they used to do and that they won’t be able to do again. It’s about a nostalgic, revisited moment. (…) I think it’s sad because it’s about someone who is recalling a moment when perhaps they used to do it when they were innocent and when they were children, and it’s something that they’re having to sneak away to do privately now as adults.”
It’s rare to read about the songwriter’s intent in creating a piece. I also think that songs can hold different meanings for listeners. To me, the song is about the need to retreat and be away from whatever things cause us fear, pain or heartache. We all need to follow that instinct sometimes and find a place that’s safe to be ourselves. Bush writes beautiful songs, for a beautiful world that’s not always kind.
“It wouldn’t take me long
To tell you how to find it
To tell you where we’ll meet
This little girl inside me
Is retreating to her favourite place
Go into the garden
Go under the ivy
Under the leaves
Away from the party
Go right to the rose
Go right to the white rose (for me)”
(from “Under the Ivy,” by Kate Bush)
Now you know a little about why this is my song of the day for today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.
Here’s the official video from Kate Bush’s YouTube channel, introduced by (the now late) Paula Yates, who featured the video on a UK TV show she hosted, the Tube: