Kate Bush’s 1985 song “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” from her fifth album, “Hounds of Love,” has gotten a new life from being included in the most recent season of “Stranger Things.” The song has risen to number one on the Billboard Global 200 and has become very popular on TikTok.
Since Kate Bush is now in the public mind again, I thought it was finally time to talk about one of my favorite albums from Bush, her fourth album, 1982’s “The Dreaming.”
“The Dreaming” was a turning point in Bush’s discography. It was the first album that she produced solely by herself, and this gave her the freedom to experiment with sounds, something she did not have on her three previous albums, “The Kick Inside” and “Lionheart” both in 1978 and “Never for Ever” in 1980.
Too many “The Dreaming” is considered Bush’s “mad” album, and I can see why it can be a jarring experience at first listen. All these sounds compete against each other, but the more you listen to them, the more you see how great it is.
Bush employs a wide array of instruments to get her visions across. One of the most prominent instruments is a didgeridoo used on the title track “The Dreaming”. The instruments that can be heard the most are drums and guitars.
The percussion on this album gives it this foreboding feeling. The songs here have tension to them. “Pull Out the Pin” tensions come from blood-curdling screams and shouts in the music. In the opener “Sat In Your Lap,” tension is displayed in the lyrics where Bush sings about society’s pursuit of wanting to learn, but not devoting the appropriate time to these endeavors, “In my dome of ivory/A home of activity/I want the answers quickly/But I don’t have no energy/I hold a cup of wisdom/But there is nothing within.”
Kate Bush’s literary influence comes into play (something you will see on all her albums) on “The Shining” inspired track “Get Out of My House.” Her use of “The Shining” and the characters’ isolation in the Overlook Hotel parallels directly with the isolation the singer feels after a breakup. Lyrics such as “I will not let you in!/Don’t you bring back the reveries/I’ll turn into a bird/Carry further than the word is heard” express how much pain she has been going through since the ending of the relationship.
Some deep cuts off “The Dreaming” that need the attention is the emotional rollercoaster that is “Houdini” with its use of violins and pianos makes it a personal favorite of mine. “All the Love” has this otherworldly quality, especially with the whispery pre-chorus, “I needed you/To love me too/I wait for your move.” Bush’s voice is full of anguish and regrets on this track.
“The Dreaming” shows Bush finally growing her artistic voice, something that is seen more in the next two albums, the aforementioned “Hounds of Love” and its follow-up 1989’s “The Sensual World.” Bush’s vocals on “The Dreaming” are much more profound and take on this dramatic quality like she is playing different characters in a performance.
There are hints of what Bush would do in the future on “The Dreaming.” The fifth track, “Leave It Open,” sounds like it would have fit perfectly on the second side of “Hounds of Love” called the “The Ninth Wave.”
“The Dreaming,” in the end, was a step forward for Kate Bush musically and lyrically. Showing that she had much more to sing in the years to come.