Can I tell you a secret? Kate Bush was my most played artist on Spotify last year. I crafted my very own ‘best of’ playlist filled with songs that had me dancing around the kitchen with my hands flailing one second (Wuthering Heights) to soberly reflecting on the state of the world the next (Breathing). I listen to that playlist almost everyday. I am, always have been and always will be obsessed with Kate Bush. I even swam across a river once so I could touch the walls of her house. Totally legal stalking aside, she is one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever. It’s not opinion, it’s fact. Ask David Mitchell, who wrote the foreword to How To Be Invisible. Where to start then, with a book of lyrics? It’s a curious thing to see your favourite songs laid out like poems, giving them a whole new meaning. As a listener you’d rarely rewind a song to hear a particular line again, so suddenly being faced with words on a page, there for you to deconstruct, demystify and do what you want with is somewhat overwhelming. While David Mitchell’s brilliant anecdotal introduction shares his own musical journey with Kate, I do feel it’s lacking a bit of guidance on how to best approach this “strange beast.” At first, I tried to read each song as a separate entity and disassociate it entirely from the music. Then I attempted a strange karaoke-style interpretation, singing the lyrics with the book aloft like a demented choir soloist. Finally I settled on a middle ground: I read each song, turning over the words and their meaning, then listened to it with new found fascination. Some very clever people on Spotify have even made a playlist of the collection. It’s in order and everything. One by one, that’s how I’m making my way through How To Be Invisible. Whether you’re a fan or searching for a new obsession, Kate’s lyrics are timeless, poignant and intimate. Be warned though, you’ll have the songs whirring around your head for days.
How To Be Invisible, Kate Bush. Faber & Faber, 2018.