Bush explores masculine and feminine perspectives, contemplating desire (Reaching Out) and obligation (Night in the Swallow), never reaching trite conclusions...If there is one to be drawn from How to Be Invisible, it isn’t that Bush is unknowable, but that life is: how much can we ever know about love, ourselves, the things we lose? She is never cowed by the uncertainty. Her songwriting suggests the only way to weather it is with curiosity; applying silliness as courageously as literary seriousness, balancing spiritual insight alongside unabashed carnality, domestic truth alongside fantasy, never concerned by contradictions.
Her book... works magically, possibly because many of her lyrics are structured so strangely. She also adds, in her brief author’s note: “all the lyrics have been reviewed as works of verse without their music and so in some places are more detailed than how they originally appeared on their albums”. Some digging on my part reveals nothing more than her playing with poetical constructions such as “o’er”. To do this job properly, however, weeks of album listening will be required, promoting a deeper understanding of these songs. Bush clearly knows what she’s doing.
Essentially this is a book for fans, and fans of the Great Kate are as legion as we are loyal. The collection ends with Lake Tahoe, which includes one of my favourite images from her songs. An old dog, asleep on the floor, “his legs are frail now, but when he dreams – he runs”. I can never hear that line without welling up and, like all of the lyrics contained within Bush’s work, it loses none of its power by being separated from the melody. Maybe the Academy got it right with Dylan after all.