Painting Penguins with Kate Bush

I was listening to Kate Bush’s bizarre 1982 track “Leave It Open” the other day.  There’s an ending vocal passage (starting at 2:34) that’s hard to decipher.  When I first heard the song years ago, I thought she was singing “Leave it open / Let us in,” but I later found out it’s “We let the weirdness in.” This line was so enigmatic when the song was originally released that the Kate Bush Fan Club had a contest to see who could figure it out.  Apparently, jokes Kate in an early fan club newsletter, it’s actually “We paint the penguins pink”…

Anyway, this all got me thinking about a fan made video and remix of the song done years ago by “Sky Vibes.”  It’s still on YouTube, luckily.  Sky Vibes does an admirable job with “Leave it Open”, combining it with a song called “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above” by CSS and illustrating it with a video composed of a melange of Kate Bush dance sequences from throughout the years, synced to the remix music.

It’s at once cool and silly. Kinda like the line Kate walked from time to time – she usually managed/manages to fall on the cool side of the line, but every once in a while (especially when taken out of context like in this video) you can’t help laughing at the over-the-topness of it all. The video isn’t called “We Let the Dance Weirdness In” for no reason. The nice thing is that it’s done in the spirit of affection and homage, but not taking it’s subject too seriously.

“We Let the Dance Weirdness” in led me down the rabbit hole of more strange things made by the world of Kate Bush fans on YouTube.

We have her first hit, “Wuthering Heights,” slowed down from 3:46 in length to almost 36 minutes.  It’s as if time itself is slowing down, as if we’re listening to music in outer space, or under water.  It also sounds  sort of like a ghost on tranquilizers. I can’t get through the whole thing, but maybe that’s the point.

Speaking of warping time, how about reversing “Wuthering Heights,” playing the whole song backwards, video and all. A fascinating visual as well as aural experience as she seems to speaking another language, perhaps Venusian.

“Leave It Open,” the track that got me started on this voyage, is even more eerie reversed than forwards. And it sounds like she’s saying “They said they were buried here”….

YouTuber “Alphan” has a long history of doing a good job of cleaning up old Kate demos, making their sound sparkle a bit more. Yet, he’s also done some left-field covers of her songs which actually work well, including playing “Song of Solomon” on a music box, the “Ninth Wave” suite from Hounds of Love on music bells, “Suspended in Gaffa” on accordion.

Of course, the ultimate in Kate Bush fandom craziness is the annual Wuthering Heights day where flocks of KB lookalikes gather in fields and recreate the “red dress version” video of the song.  They say 1,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong, and the same applies here…




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