Coinciding nicely with my blethering on about the joys of Kate Bush last week, there’s an article in this month’s Mojo about her. It’s a very interesting analysis of Kate’s talent and appeal, but unusually for a profile like this, there is practically no input from the artist herself.
This is because Kate Bush shuns publicity. Not in the usual âI don’t want to be interviewed. Hey! Why don’t you want to interview me?’, ‘methinks the artist doth protest too much’ kind of way, either. She practically never tours, practically never makes appearances to plug her work, and almost never does interviews. Mr. Butshesagirl thinks that this is very frustrating, but I’m not so sure. That’s not to say that I don’t burn to know what the songs are about. You only have to visit Gaffaweb to see how common that feeling is. Endless hours have been devoted deconstructing single songs. Take, for example, ‘Suspended in Gaffa’ from ‘The Dreaming’: there are so many different ways to interpret this song. It seems obvious — to me, at least — that it’s about a woman involved in her lover’s divorce proceedings. In Britain until the end of the 19th century, you had to prove adultery to get a divorce — by deliberately getting caught in flagrante by a witness who would be willing to testify in court.
But they’ve told us unless we can prove That we’re doing it We can’t have it all
But then there’s the ‘Gaffa’ puzzle: what does ‘Am I suspended in Gaffa’ mean? It could be derived from the word gaffe (a lapse in discretion), or a reference to gaffer tape, or a reference to The Gaffer (the boss). Alternatively, it could just be a nonsense word that Kate made up to infuriate her fans. No one knows for sure, and the artist herself has never enlightened us. Come to think of it, these days ‘Suspended in Gaffa’ could be slang for to the current state of fearfulness of some US citizens.
Do we have any right to an explanation, or should we just accept the music as it is, and draw our own conclusions? Do we have a right to know anything about the artist? I’m a scientist, and I generally like nice neat explanations, with all the loose ends tied up. But surely art is supposed to be in the eyes (or the ears) of the beholder. If you try to deconstruct it too much, you just end up with a pile of meaningless bits. So I’m content to just wonder (in both senses of the word), and not to know. I respect Kate Bush a great deal for not bowing to what must be relentless pressure to reveal. Besides, not knowing is great exercise for the imagination.