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Welcome to Ameliah.com

This is my blog and I will post vigorously about music and related stuff, which I hope you will enjoy. Please feel free to comment, or contact me with ideas. If you find anything interesting, please feel free to share it !

Best regards – Ameliah

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Siouxsie and the Banshees – “Cities In Dust”

From the album Tinderbox
Written and produced by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

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Album Cover: Siouxsie and the Banshees – “Tinderbox”

“Cities In Dust” is probably one of the most popular Siouxsie and the Banshees song. Since its release in 1985, it seems like it’s only gaining in popularity. Not only has it been used in several films over the years, a cover of it by the band Everlove, was used in the trailer for series 4 of Game of Thrones. Fitting.

Siouxsie and the Banshees are long time favourites of mine. Siouxsie Sioux is one of the coolest and most groundbreaking artist to come out of the Punk/New Wave movement. I mean, she practically invented the goth style, and unlike most bands and artists of that era, Siouxsie and the Banshees actually evolved musically, and therefore were able to make great music for over 20 years.

“Cities In Dust” is about the destruction of Pompeii in AD 79 by a volcanic eruption from mount Vesuvius, as Siouxsie Sioux told Melody Maker in 1992: “This was our first trip to Pompeii, another amazing experience. Seeing a whole civilisation petrified in lava, was like putting yourself in the place at the time, and imagining how it must have been to be there when it happened. I find it really easy to do that, to get ghost images of life continuing as it was. I often wonder if that’s what real hauntings are – your imagination and your senses bringing things back to life. That’s why you’d never be able to capture it on film”

Being quite the history geek, I could go on and on about the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but I will try to control myself, and just stick to the basic facts.

In 79 AD Pompeii was a thriving city, near the bay of Naples, with an estimated population of about 11.000 inhabitants. When Vesuvius erupted, the whole city got covered in a thick layer of ash and pumice, perfectly preserving it for almost 2.000 years. Obviously many of the people in the city died, and to this day we can still see the human remains, almost frozen in time.

If we dive deeper in to the lyrics, it actually describes what happened pretty well. “water was running, children were running” sets the scene of a Roman town full of life. The Romans was of course famous for their aqua-ducts. “under the mountain, a golden fountain”  A volcano. The mentioning of the Lares shrine, just emphasises the fact that we are dealing with the Roman world. The Lares Familiares were household Deities in the ancient Roman religion, so such a shrine would have been found in most homes of that time.

“We found you hiding we found you lying, choking on the dirt and sand” well, that’s more or less how the people of Pompeii was found. I especially like the bit with ”your former glories and all the stories, dragged and washed with eager hands” That basically describes the subsequent archaeological excavation of the city. It’s rare that archaeology is the subject of a pop song!

“Hot and burning in your nostrils, pouring down your gaping mouth, your molten bodies blanket of cinders, caught in the throes” Again, a pretty good description. I love it when artists are not afraid to think outside the box, when it comes to subject matter.

Musically speaking, it is one of Siouxsie and the Banshees more pop and dance-floor friendly songs, whilst still retaining their New Wave roots. From the synthesizer bells, to the forward-driving and insisting drumbeat, this song is simple, but effective. Siouxsie demonstrates that her vocal performance, albeit not the grandest, definitely improved over the years, yet still maintaining it’s distinctive sound. The song stays in the same chord progression all the way, except for one bridge.

The official music-video stays on the theme of Pompeii, with cinder-covered bodies and flowing lava. All the while Siouxsie sports her signature makeup.

“Cities in Dust” remains a staple of Siouxsie and the Banshees repertoire, and will forever be one of my personal favourites of theirs. And considering the amount of great songs they made, rest assured that I will come back to them at a point.

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Acacia – “Unfulfilled Desire”

From the album “Cradle”
Written by Alexander Nilere and Guy Sigsworth.
Produced by Guy Sigsworth.

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Album Cover: Acacia – “Cradle”

This song and the album was recorded in 1996 and released in 1997. Unfortunatly it had to be pulled back from the shops, almost before it was out, due to problems with their record label. It was re-released in 2012.

Acacia is not exactly a well known band, and they only released one album, nonetheless, its members would go on to become important artists in their own right. Formed in the early 90’s in London by Alexander Nilere and Guy Sigsworth, they would feature such names as Talvin Singh, Luca Ramelli, Ansuman Biswas, Eshan Khadaroo, Maurizio Anzalone and a very young Imogen Heap, in fact this is the first time she appears on a record.

Acacia did gain some attention due to their eclectic mix of genres, and a fusion of various world music styles and sounds. They actually described their music as both liqiud music, and fourth world music, because it appears alien to everyone.

I am a long time fan of Imogen Heap, and Guy Sigsworth for that matter, and as a fan I wanted more, so I researched on what else Imogen Heap had done, and that is how I discovered Acacia. The music immediately grabbed my attention, I mean, this was clearly something else. The first song I heard, was “Maddening Shroud” as I could recognise the title from the Frou Frou album “Details”. Frou Frou of course, was a duo consisting of Imogen Heap and Guy Sigsworth, so it’s starting to make sense now. I now realised that the Frou Frou song was a cover of the Acacia song, and that it was more or less the same people who was involved.

The song is a wondeful mix of genres, both electronic and acoustic, and is largely based on a theme of only 2 to 3 tones repeated. A lot of Acacia’s music has a slightly Asian sounding feel to it, and this song is no exception. Though the main guitar theme throughout the song has a more classic folk element to it, the production makes use of some distinct Asian instrumentations and sounds. The song also features an absolutely beautiful violin solo, courtesy of Lisa Ferguson. To top it all off, we have Alexander Nilere’s wonderfully breathy and slightly hoarse vocals, delivering lyrics about, well, unfulfilled desires.

I am not going to go deep in an analysis of the lyrics, as I do not have them in writing anywhere. I’m afraid I might have misheard some of the words, and therefore it’s better to just leave it at this for now.

Coming back to the production. It is no secret that I absolutely adore the Guy Sigsworth “sound”. He is in my mind one of the most interesting and innovative producers out there. And this whole album has his signature all over it. Though not as sophisticated in it’s details in the production as Frou Frou’s “Details”, Acacia’s “Cradle” is still an album worth of some fine tuned listening.

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Earth, Wind & Fire – A Kalimba Love Story

If there has been one musical constant in my life I could always count on, its Earth, Wind & Fire.

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Earth, Wind & Fire album cover: “Last Days And Time” 1972

Since before I can remember, their music have always been a part of my life. And my love and appreciation for them, have only grown deeper over the years. When other kids were singing “itsy bitsy spider” and such, I would be going “And Love Goes On”. Anyway, back to the point.

As far as I can tell, EWF ( I’m going to use this abbreviation to save time) was the first to bring the kalimba to fame, outside of Africa. Already back in the late sixties, when Maurice White (lead singer, drummer and founder of EWF) was the drummer in the Ramsey Lewis Trio, he would use the kalimba on stage. Then when he formed EWF, his love for, and use of the kalimba only grew. Not only was their record company called Kalimba Records, but the instrument started to feature more prominently in their music. Some key examples of this would obviously be songs like “Kalimba Story” and “Drum Song”, but also in less obvious songs like “Evil” and “Power”,  and also on a lot of the interludes on the albums.

Just in case anyone doesn’t know what a kalimba is, it is a little handheld piano, you pluck with your thumbs. It is a modern version of the traditional African instrument the Mbira.

I love it when musicians brings lesser known instruments to the worlds attention, and in doing so, perhaps also bring an understanding for other cultures, and history. By using an African(ish) instrument, and their use of ancient Egyptian imagery, EWF helped strengthen African-American culture and identity. They were some of the first so-called crossover artists, meaning they became popular with both black and white audiences. Remember in America, especially back in the seventies, there were (and it pains my heart to see, still is) racial difficulties, and one of the ways this was evident, is the fact that you tended to stay in your own cultural tribe so to speak. This meant that a lot of amazing black music, never really got the world wide recognition and popularity it deserved. But EWF made it big everywhere, and in doing so, also became sort of cultural ambassadors to the world.

They were so popular and omnipresent, that they were dubbed the American Beatles, and if we stick with the kalimba for now, well then that title fits. What they did with the kalimba, The Beatles, and particulary George Harrison did with the sitar. When “Norwegian Wood” came out, it was the first time that most of the world heard a sitar. And with The Beatles further use of the sitar and other Indian instruments, and their trips to India and so forth, it basically brought eastern culture and music to the western world.

Earth Wind And Fire are not the only artists to use a kalimba. Such diverse artists as Björk, Ephat Mujuru, King Crimson and Imogen Heap, have all used a kalimba, at some point in their music. Not to mention all the great African artists and musicians who uses it.

The kalimba to many people is the sound of Africa, and as such, it could be described as a cultural  bridge-builder between Africa and the west. It is certainly my hope, that more African artists become well-known around the world, and their music gets the recognition it deserves.

My love of Earth, Wind & Fire is no secret, and I will be writing about them and their music, in many future blog-posts.

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Bat for Lashes –  “Horse and I”

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Album Cover: Bat for Lashes – “Fur and Gold”

The opening track from Bat for Lashes 2006 debut album Fur and Gold. (Written by Natasha Khan and produced by Natasha Khan and David Kosten.)

Natasha Khan aka Bat for Lashes, is in my opinion, the crown-princess of alternative pop, the queen being Björk and the high-priestess Kate Bush. Despite being “third in line to the throne”, Bat For Lashes is a unique and rare talent, who obviously deserve to be praised on her own. And being the only one of the three I have actually seen live in concert, I can personally guarantee you, that she is every bit as talented live, as she is on recordings. I have never heard a better singer than her, she has perfect control of her voice, and unlike a lot of other singers, who tries to hard to prove their talent all the time, she never does more than the song needs. That is in my mind the mark of an artist, not a pop star. Anyway back to the song.

Talk about a perfect openimg song, to set the tone for an album, and in this case a career. An unconventional pop song, with its use of harp, viola and a (keyboard) harpsichord, it feels more at home at a renaissance fair, than the pop-chart. And the lyrics conjures up images of a Joan of Arc like figure. It is clear that we are not dealing with your average run of the mill, brain-dead, radio pleasing, pop-puppet, you can swing a dead cat at, these days. This is an uncomprimising musician, and a true artist.

The inspiration for the song, came to Natasha Khan in a dream, as she told “Under The Radar” Magazine: “I’ve seen whole concepts in my dreams before—like an hour and a half of completely new material, “Horse and I” came to me in a dream, It was very vivid, and I suppose it’s a song about traveling and journeys and initiations into new places that are a bit frightening, too. All the words and the story came from that. At the time I was dreaming a lot, and I had this particularly strong dream of the horse coming to me and taking me through the forest and then to these ghosts of children singing. And there’s a crown there in this clearing, and it’s just this obvious symbol of me starting off on a journey.”

The lyrics have always fascinated me, as I mentioned earlier, they create this image of a warrior queen, or a Joan of Arc like figure. Maybe this is reading to much into it, but I’d like to think that the mentioning of the desert shore is a nod to the album of that name by Nico, and the dancers in the dark, to Björk.  And I just love the line “the banquet for the shadows” it really creates an atmosphere. The whole concept of wearing armour, going on a quest, and the “chosen one” idea, is one she returned to on her second album Two Suns. Don’t worry, I will of course write about that album and the songs in future posts.

The music, as mentioned above, feels like it belongs in another time and place. And indeed it was very importarnt for her, that the recording process reflected the mood of the song, as she told “Under The Radar” Magazine. Case in point, her desire to capture just the right eerie ambience led her into the woods to record “Horse and I,” with the whistling wind and rustling leaves forming an unusual instrument in the mix. “I didn’t want to stay in the gray boring vocal booth,” she explains. “So I said to David, ‘I really want to record this vocal track out in the forest,’ and it was raining and misty, and we were recording in this dilapidated old mansion house out in the country. So he made the lead 40-feet long, I went out there and recorded the lead vocal, and if you isolate the track, you can hear all the rain on the leaves and wind. 

Makes me think of Björk crawling into a (bat) filled cave in the Bahamas, to record “cover me”…

The music does indeed have an eerie feel, but there is also something mystical, and the almost millitary sounding drums, ads to the sense of urgency that the lyrics hint to. Another thing I have to highlight, is once again Natasha Khan’s voice. You believe her, when she sings “there is no turning back”, and the backing vocals really adds to the whole picture, particularly her almost ghoulish “ooh ooh’s” near the end of the song.

All in all a magnificent song by one of the greatest artists in the world.

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Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest conducted by Jules Buckley at Abbey Road Studios

A live re-recording of Laura Mvula’s debut album “Sing To The Moon”.

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Album cover: Laura Mvula with Metropole Orkest

Laura Mvula is in my mind one of the best artist to come out of this decade, and she has the potential to become one of the best artists of all times. She is a gifted songwriter, and has a distinct voice that makes her easily recognisable. And above all, she seems to be true to her own artistic vision, not other peoples expectations.

When “Sing To The Moon” was released, it was to great critical acclaim, and she was even nominated for the Mercury prize (though over the last ten years, that prize has lost all its credibility, but that’s another story.)

I must admit, that I wasn’t aware of Laura Mvula when the album was released in 2013. It was a difficult time for me, and I was more or less hiding under a rock for a few years, and as such, pretty much unaware of the current music scene. So when I (finally) discovered the album, it was a downright Eureka moment. My first reaction was, thank god, there is still hope for the future of music, I mean when you listen to the radio these days, its pretty much all shit, except for the occasional golden oldie. But here comes a real artist, someone who makes music, not chart fillers. After a couple of listens to that album, I found the Abbey Road sessions version, and talk about a double Eureka moment!!, not only are the best songs made even better, like “Green Garden” and “She”, but the few songs on the original, that I was less enthusiastic about, are now on par with the others. Especially songs like “Farther Farther”, and “That’s Alright”.

It is rarely a good idea to go back and re-do your old material, there have been plenty of evidence for that over the last 20 years or so (no names mentioned for now….). But this might just be the one time it actually worked. This is a masterpiece, you can hear the vision Laura Mvula had for “Sing To The Moon” come truly to life here.

Another thing that makes this album such a delight, is the Metropole Orkest. They are great musicians, and they really managed to create the right sound and feel for this album. And of course Jules Buckley, the conducter. All in all, a winning combination.

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for the big sweeping sound of a symphonic orchestra, so when you combine that with the songs and visions from an artists like Laura Mvula, I’m in heaven.

I know that the Abbey Road Studios have this mythical status in the music world (I wonder why:) ), and a lot of people think that if you record an album in there, it will automatically turn to gold. That is not the case, if the material isn’t good enough, it doesn’t matter where you record it. But, and this a big but, few other studios in the world are more equipped to handle the big set-ups like having a 50-piece orchestra in at once. And remember, before the Beatles, Abbey Road Studios was mostly used for the recording of classical music, it’s in it’s DNA, and of course, so are The Goons.

A little travel tip, if you ever find yourself in north London, go and stand at the corner on the pavement outside the studios, and watch tourists nearly getting run over by the buses, trying to re-create the you-know-what album cover. Its quite amusing.

I could go on and on about this album, and I will be posting about each song down the line. But for now, I will urge you to have a listen for yourself, and be mesmerised by on of this millenniums best albums.

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5 examples of Björk songs, that are better live, than the studio version

Björk at Coachella 2007, Photo: Paul Familetti. Licensed under Creative Commons
Björk at Coachella 2007 Author: Paul Familetti. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.

It is no secret that Björk is one of the worlds best live performers, she can sing like few others, and she is always pushing boundaries with her live arrangements of her music. Now that’s not to say that her studio albums are not good, quite the opposite. In my opinion, every studio album, from “Debut” to “Vulnicura”, is more or less a masterpiece. And if there are some songs on, that are not exactly great, then you can be sure that there almost always comes some interesting remixes. And then there is the live versions. I can’t think of any other artist who “shake things up” like Björk does. Sometimes it can be hard to even recognise a song from the studio version, to a live version, and often they get a new arrangement for each tour. That is the mark of a true genius.

So here I give you 5 examples of this, in my mind these versions surpasses the studio versions. By the way, they are in random order:

“Enjoy” from “Post Live”
Originally from the album “Post”.
Recorded at Sherperds Bush 27/02/97.

The studio version of “Enjoy”, have never been a favourite of mine, in fact I find it a bit annoying. But the live version, WOW. Not only does her voice come much more to life, but the beats, my god, those beats. It speaks to Björk’s penchant for electronic music with its hints of Industrial and trip-hop, courtesy of Leila at the turntable. Its actually a bit of a tease this song, you feel like it is going to explode at some point, but it doesn’t, it constrains itself, which is both frustrating and brilliant at the same time. “This is sex without touching”

“Generous Palmstroke” from “Vespertine Live”
Originally from the “Family tree” box set.
Recorded at the Vespertine world tour 2001

The live version of this song, ranks among my all time favourite Björk recordings. It is simply stunning. And simplicity is the key here, just Björk’s downright phenomenal vocal performance and Zeena Parkin’s exceptional skills with a harp. The studio version is in my mind a bit cluttered, and lacks sophistication somehow, again, it´s not bad, it just has nothing on the live version. Her voice on this, ranges from her signature growling and holding the long notes, to the most fragile and vulnerable, almost a whisper. It is a true testament to her capabilities as a singer.

“One Day” from “Debut Live”
Originally from “Debut”
recorded at MTV Unplugged 1994

I never liked the studio version of this song. From the annoying child in the beginning, to the boring beat, and the lack-luster production, which, to be honest, has a whiff of assembly line hanging over it. The lyrics a sweet enough though.

Enter the unplugged version, complete with tablas?, gamalans? and tuba?, only Björk could pull this off!!! – a masterpiece.

And if this version doesn’t do it for you, well then she changes it completely for the Post live tour, giving it an entirely new character. And again for Biophilia live. No one can reinvent their old material as well as she can.

“I See Who You Are” from “Vulnicura Live”
Originally from “Volta”
recorded in New York 2015

Now I know that the Volta album is the least liked album by most Björk fans, but I think it has some marvellous songs on it, granted it is not the most homogeneous (homogenic hahaha) of albums, but still it has it´s moments. And I do like this song, it has some interesting sounds and beats, and is very, well Björkish. The thing is though, that with each incarnation, it just gets better. The remix by Mark Bell is better than the album version, and then, yes you’ve guessed it, the live version is the best. The Vulnicura live version that is. I am in love with sound of a hang drum, and here, like on the Biophilia tour, we get the brilliant percussionist Manu Delago. Add to that beautiful strings, and cool electronics from Arca and Haxan Cloak. She sounds fresh, and full of vigour on these live recordings, no surprise considering the story behind Vulnicura, and I’m almost tempted to say, that every song on this album is better than the other versions. Almost.

“You’ve Been Flirting Again“ from “Homogenic Live“
Originally from “Post”
recorded in Washington 1998

There isn’t much difference between the two versions, except one big difference. She sings in Icelandic, and that just lifts it to a whole new level. If it was up to me, Björk should only sing in Icelandic. It is just such a poetic language, and the way she rolls her R´s are by now legendary.

The strings here are also just that little bit more emotional and fits the mood better.

So there we have it. I could easily have included more songs, but I am going to just stick with these 5 for now, and then of course there is an excuse to make a part 2.

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Why The Clash, in my opinion, was the greatest band since The Beatles!

This is not based on facts, statistics or anything else useful, just my honest opinion.

The Clash, Oslo, Norway 1980. Author: Helge Øverås Licensed under Creative Co mmons 2.5
The Clash, Oslo, Norway 1980. Author: Helge Øverås. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.5

The Clash wasn’t just a punk-band or a rock band for that matter, they transcended genre and pigeon-holes like few other bands have. Sure they started out alongside the Sex Pistols and The Damned, but unlike those bands, The Clash managed to evolve both their music and themselves. In fact, in my opinion only their debut album could actually be called punk, and even that album had voyages into reggae and 60’s garage rock. They were innovative, great songwriters and masters of excellent cover-versions, in other words, a bit like The Beatles in that sense. Now I don’t mean to compare them to much, as The Clash themselves say on “London Calling” “now don’t look to us, phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust”.

Sure, not every song they ever did was good, but then again, can we really say that about any recording artist? (the only ones that springs to mind for me, would be Björk and Kate Bush).

But still, the amount of good or even great songs, far outweigh the number of bad, or less good songs.

Unlike the majority of punk musicians, The Clash could actually play. Sure, Joe Strummer was not a great guitarist, but he was a decent rhythm guitarist, and above all, the lead voice and face of the band. Okay, he wasn’t a great technical singer either, but he delivered the message, and that is what matters. Mick Jones however, was, and still is, a truly great leadguitarist, he is in my mind up there with the best of them. And he can sing to, again perhaps not great, but good enough. Paul Simonon was also a decent bass player, considering he couldn’t play any instrument when they first got together, and was forced to play bassguitar, because no one else wanted to (I use the past tense with him, because I’m not sure he plays anymore). And then there is the drummers. Terry Chimes on the first album was good, not particularly noteworthy, but he got the job done. He got sacked, and in came Topper Headon, a powerhouse on the drums, a true talent (hmm, a bit like Pete Best and Ringo Starr…).

In other words, where as a lot of punk acts were just that, acts, The Clash were true musicians.

And its not just the music they did so well, its also the lyrics, particularly Joe Strummer’s gift for intelligent and, at times, witty political songs. Love songs was not there strong suit, but Mick Jones did write some memorable ones, mainly about potential break-ups and being abandoned.

There is so much to say and analyze about their lyrics, that I am going to leave that for individual posts about each song.

The visuals are important too. They made some brilliant videos, directed by Don Letts, and used some of the best photographers like Bob Gruen and Penny Smith. And the clothes, like The Beatles, they were very much aware of their appearance.

One more thing to mention when it comes to comparing the two bands, is cultural impact. Both bands were among the first of their genres, both conquered America to an amazing success, and both became household-names outside their normal musical spheres. Both bands, but in particular The Clash, brought black music to a white audience, and The Clash like few other bands, fought against racism. They also helped pave the way for female punk bands, by having fx. The Slits with them on tour, as the opening act.

I could go on and on about the genius of The Clash, and I undoubtedly will in future posts, but for now I’m just going to leave it at this, and encourage you to listen for yourself.

I know a lot of people will (strongly) disagree with me on this statement, and would have preferred that the title went to The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin or perhaps Venga Boys :). The only other contenders for the title in my mind would be Earth Wind And Fire, and possibly Sigur Rós. And that’s the beauty of a blog, I get to be the dictator of music here, and if you have a different opinion, then please feel free to keep it to yourself.

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Kate Bush – A Coral Room

Aerial
Album Cover: Kate Bush – “Aerial”

One of my absolute favourite Kate Bush songs. It is so hauntingly beautiful in it´s majestic simplicity, and is pack full of symbolism and personal references. Originally released in 2005, it´s the last track of disc 1 on the album “Aerial”. Of course written and produced by Kate Bush.

Kate + Piano + not much else = perfection. This song comes from a line of amazing songs, which feature the piano as the dominant instrument. Highlights include: “The Man With Child In His Eyes”, “This Woman’s Work”, and “Moments Of Pleasure”. And staying with that last track for a bit, because both “Moments Of Pleasure” and “A Coral Room” revolves around the subject of loss. Whereas “Moments” is about all the people she had lost up until that point, “A Coral Room” is about the loss of time, and more crucially, her mother.

Her mothers death had a devastating effect on her, as they were very close, but unlike what some sources claim, she wasn’t having a nervous breakdown, but as she told Mojo Magazine:”I was very, very tired. It was a really difficult time.” But she was able to channel some of that grief into this song, and it is therefore perhaps the most personal song she has ever written. Bear in mind, that Kate Bush is one of the best storytellers, whether it be singing as Cathy, about Houdini or as a husband losing his wife in childbirth. In fact, “A Coral Room” was so personal to her, that she hesitated to put it on the album.

The lyrics, as mentioned, deals with loss, but also one of her signature subjects, water, or to be more precise, the submarine world (a fascination she shares with other artists such as Björk and Bat For Lashes). I mean, her most famous suite “The Ninth Wave” is about a woman drowning, spoiler alert, she makes it in the end.

The songs describes a city under water, and this actually builds upon an old demo-song of hers – “Atlantis”. In the first verse, she describes the city, draped in fishermen’s nets, towers covered in webs, and the spider of time climbing over the ruins. Spiders of course, are old symbols of time and death, and they are “spinning the web of fate”. We clearly get a sense of a drowned city, perhaps Atlantis, or perhaps a British seaside town, I will come back to that later. All of this could also symbolise lost memories that suddenly reappear. The spider climbing over the ruins as to trigger the memories.

The chorus then follows, and here we hear that there were hundreds of people living there, sails at the window, planes crashing, the pilot drowning and the speedboats flying above. Returning to the idea of a British seaside town, during WW2, a lot of planes were shot down along the British coasts, and subsequently the pilots drowned, and now we just cruise over those sites in speedboats. And then she asks the question: put your hand over the side of the boat, what do you feel?

Remorse? Loss? Longing?

Then we get to the part with her mother and her little brown jug, and this might be the most important bit of the song.

As she said on the BBC 4 program Front Row:”There was a little brown jug actually, yeah. The song is really about the passing of time. I like the idea of coming from this big expansive, outside world of sea and cities into, again, this very small space where, er, it’s talking about a memory of my mother and this little brown jug. I always remember hearing years ago, this thing about a sort of Zen approach to life, where you would hold something in your hand, knowing that, at some point, it would break, it would no longer be there.”

It is such an emotional part of the song, you can really tell that it is very emotional for her, to sing about her mother. The “little brown jug, don’t I love Thee” is a nod to an old song, made famous by The Clark Sisters.

In the last part of the song, she recalls her mother laughing in the kitchen, the little brown jug falling, the spider climbing out of it, and then a house draped in net, a room filled with corals, sails at the window and a forest of masts. Now it all comes together, the image of the submerged town or lost memories, with her image of her mother. The spider climbing out of the broken jug as to symbolise her mother is just a memory now. Everything is under water and under a web, to be forgotten again in time. Also again, if we imagine living in a seaside town, when looking out of the window you would see sails, and a forest of masts.

And to end it all, a repetition of the question, what do you feel?

And that is the true power of great music, what do you feel? It´s all subjective, and we take from the song what we need, and feel what is right. It may be a personal song for Kate Bush, but it can be an equally personal song to you, if put your own emotions into it.

The music consist almost entirely of just her voice and piano, and it has three distinct rhythm and melody sections.  She plays with such a tenderness to match the lyrics. And her singing here is among some of her best, it´s understated and moving without any of her high-pitched wailing. Michael Woods provide a vocal bit about the jug, and the addition of another voice has always annoyed me a bit, I think it could have done without it to be honest. But still it is a masterpiece of a song.

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