“Somewhere Only We Know” is one of those career defining songs that bands released from time to time. While it was not their first single overall, it was the first single from their 2004 debut album, Hopes and Fears. This song and that album have cemented Keane’s reputation as one of the greatest English pop/rock bands of the 21st century. Its also put them in a position of never, ever being able to live up to their debut album. The rock gods give, the rock gods take.
I am sure there are other ways to read this song, but I’ve always heard it as a fairly straightforward love song – two lonely people are finally able to admit how they feel about it each other if they go (literally? Metaphorically?) to someplace only they know. I’m making it sound like I’m mocking the song, but that’s not the case at all. Its really about as perfect a pop song as you’re going to hear – excellent musicianship, tight production, an impassioned vocal and lyrics that are supported by all of it. Really an exceptional song and one that belongs in every library.
“Is It Any Wonder?” was another successful single from Under The Iron Sea. I find the guitar work in the song to be somewhat reminiscent of U2 (and I like U2, so that is a good thing). The Lyrics seem to be built around having a negative relationship.
I think I must have downloaded this using Limewire or some other program. I did download a bunch of songs via that service ten or so years ago and gradually replaced them all with purchases from iTunes, but this one currently ends with a DJ talking about the song. Clearly, somebody was very excited about it being played on the radio, recorded it, and shared it out in this form. Shame! Primarily because if you record off the radio, all of us who grew up with cassette tapes knew that it was our responsibility to make sure we trimmed off all evidence of the DJ. Who wants to hear him?
I first heard about Keane from one-time Music Blog author Gen (who would be most welcome back if she ever wanted to come back). I was looking for suggestions for new music and I believe she suggested them – specifically the song “Somewhere Only We Know” (coming up soon). I added three songs, including this one.
If my music library were a vinyl record, this skip from Kate Bush to KC and The Sunshine Band would sound like a needle being torn off a record. That’s what happens when you listen to songs in alphabetical order by artit.
While their biggest days were behind them KC and the Sunshine Band and they were held in a bit of contempt after the fall of disco, they managed to have a good sized his in 1984 with the funky/disco/new wave sound of “Give It Up.” This song has long been the absolute guiltiest of my guilty pleasures, but I can’t help love it in all of its glorious cheesiness. There’s almost nothing to the lyrics, but who cares? KC is in the house and its time to dance, not think. God bless them for it. Seriously.
I am almost positive that the only time I ever heard this song was when I was listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem. Not even my local pop stations would play this because they were so afraid of disco. I think I probably heard it on Friday Night Videos too. Part of me thinks it was marketed as by “KC” so that we might not realize it was the same bands that played “That’s The Way (I Like It)” and if so, hey, smart marketing move guys.
“Among Angels” is the lovely closing song of 50 Words for Snow and the last of Bush’s songs currently in my library. Its a lovely song that is simply Bush accompanying herself on piano – a very appropriate way to leave Bush’s work for now. The song has a “Someone to Watch Over Me” lyrical vibe – perhaps more “Someone to Watch Over You…”
With the loss of David Bowie and Prince, Kate Bush has moved to the top of my “greatest living musicians” list. Long may she reign.
British actor, comedian, host and impresario Stephen Fry is the featured reader on the title track from 50 Words for Snow. Over a mesmerizing Stephen Gadd rhythm, Fry reads 50 words for snow (that are sublime, ludicrous, insightful and hilarious) as Bush counts off how many he’s read during the verses and taunts him with how many he has left to read in the choruses – like in a playground chant. The song has something of a great comedic punchline which I won’t ruin here. While it has all of the hallmarks of a novelty song, the music and the total commitment on the part of Fry make this piece stand up to repeated listens.
Legendary pop artist Elton John duets with Bush on “Snowed In At Wheeler Street,” a song about a couple who have been in love over multiple lifetimes but keep getting separated. This is perhaps the most Kate Bush-like song concept that Bush ever wrote. John’s deep voice forms an excellent contrast with Bush’s higher voice – and, in fact, creates a great contrast with the higher-than-Bush’s male voices elsewhere on the album.
I’m not especially enamored of the song, but its quite lovely and its certainly not one that I ever skip over.
“Wild Man” is a great classic Kate Bush song about a group that discovers the Yeti in the Himalayas and chooses to hide its existence to protect it. This song was the only single from 50 Words For Snow and its a wonderful classic-sounding Kate Bush tune. The guitar hook is just great and – as is often the case on this album – Steve Gadd’s drumming is subtle and gorgeous.
Once again, make sure to watch the brief second video, but listen to the first so you can hear the whole song.
When I first listened to 50 Words For Snow, I thought this song was an extended part of “Lake Tahoe.” I wasn’t listening to the words very carefully yet and had thought Lake Tahoe might be about a woman reunited with her ghost lover and how he vanished at the dawn. In fact, “Misty” is a totally unrelated song about a woman who takes a snowman for a lover. He melts. That sounds like a silly idea but Bush actually fills the song with a kind of lonely, aching pathos. Her main character is so lonely and the end of the song suggests that she’s climbing out on the edge of her window to look for him. Does she jump? Does she slip? Does she just mourn? I guess it sort of doesn’t matter because its the despair that’s important.
As I said, it took me a few listens to hear this as a separate track from “Lake Tahoe.” There are some aural similarities but once you get passed that, its a moving song in its own right.
Listen to the first video but watch the second. The second is only five minutes long so your total time committed to this song will be about 15 minutes. Its well worth it, especially for Steve Gadd’s brilliant jazz drumming.
“Lake Tahoe” is about a ghost looking for her old dog. The dog is old and has outlived her but when he hears her calling, he comes running and rejoins her at last. I’m a softy, but I find this song to be incredibly moving – its about a bond that lasts between a dog and a human even after death and their reunion at the end makes me mist up. When our old cats died four years ago, I found great solace in the idea that they might be waiting for me when I die. I still miss them so much.
There’s a great, lengthy slow build in this song that is capped off by the introduction of the drums around the 8 minute mark – first the bass drum and then gradually the rest of the kit. There’s a moment around 8:30 where it sounds like there’s a little sigh – I imagine that’s the moment the dog dies and formally rejoins the ghost and then the drums get more and more excited – almost as if they represent the dog’s excited reunion with his human. Its really lovely.