Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Stopping by the bowling alley to pick up a kid this afternoon, I glanced up at one of the alley's television screens and this Fox news banner caught my eye:


Note to self: Avoid, at all costs, re-viewing that Paris Hilton presidential campaign ad. One can't be too careful. Also, alert the offspring, lest they someday saunter into the house and find me flat on my back, chuckling.

(Okay, okay, I did look up the real story at The Daily Mail. Laughter actually only rarely causes paralysis in certain women with narcolepsy. Whew.)


As research assistant to the parody department (and occasionally just to find guitar enthusiast D some new tunes,) I often hunt up guitar tabs online. Sometimes an old song I haven't heard in a while comes to mind and I try to track it down. Several days ago, for some reason, I thought of Kate Bush's wonderful, weeeird lit hit Wuthering Heights. Googling title and author ended me up at YouTube, where I encountered Bush's videos. I'd never seen them before--not sure how much play they got in the U.S., but as they (like myself) are pre-MTV I'd guess not much.

Here is the "white version"
And here, the "red"
There are a few more Bush versions on there, plus some send-ups that appear to be the work of high school students who had to read the book in class. Women should exercise caution while watching those.

All things considered, I think I prefer the "white version." Thirty years after release, they both seem pretty campy. (Not to mention vaguely Pre-Raphaelite. I reflected with not a little horror that if D. G. Rossetti had been around in the late 20th century, he probably would have been producing music vids like this one. Between affairs with female vocalists, no doubt.) I called over the Hon. Daughters to see them, which only served to galvanize their conviction that Mom is the Biggest Dork Alive. (Of course, the denim sofas I just installed in the living room probably don't help matters in that regard.)

The videos do give some context to Bush's unusual singing style (although D allowed that he liked her version of the song better before he saw it.) She is (in the white version in particular,) thoroughly into her ghost role and the dancing has a really performance-artsy feel. I found some of the choreography distracting, though--what's with the lassoo twirls at the phrase, "Wuthering, Wuthering, Wuthering Heights?" And the Bonnie-Blair-in-the-homestretch moves at the end of the second verse? I think they're supposed to convey a sense of Catherine running toward the house as she's being pulled back to the Other Side, but they just made me think of speed skating. I'm also not sure what that bubble-print "rage" in the bottom left corner of the red version is about. She doesn't seem angry.

I like Bush's rendition of the song, strange as it is, but I've always really, really liked Pat Benatar's cover (which I've heard far more often.) While Bush did a good job of the creepy ghost act, Benatar (I think) brought more tangible passion to her version. It's on YouTube as well, as an audio track to a slideshow of fantasy art. [SCANTY CLOTHING ALERT. Consider yourself warned.]

I think it's time to resurrect this lost classic. I could see Amy Lee, erstwhile of Evanescence, or perhaps the gal who sings lead for Nightwish covering it.

Not to worry, by the way. It's extremely unlikely that there will ever be a Minor Premise Wuthering Heights-based parody. Even at gunpoint, neither of us could pull off that melody line.

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