Backstage: A Response to NPR Regarding Kate Bush

Backstage: A Response to NPR Regarding Kate Bush

Music vet and New Times scribe Lee Zimmerman offers his insights, opinions and observations about the local scene. This week: Fueling some feedback... 

It goes without saying that one of the hazards of being a writer is having to open yourself up to feedback, either positive or negative, and in fact, usually more of the latter. There are

those who may take issue with my opinions, and that too is only natural. 

Admittedly, I was a bit thin-skinned when I was ripped for my alleged

harassment of the Rolling Stones during an unexpected encounter in the

Virgin Islands, and I was

pummeled when I expressed bemusement at Tori Amos' apparent emotional

breakdown at a Miami Beach concert several years back. It's always good

when someone reminds you of your insensitivity. Not. The fact is, I welcome reader comments for

better or for worse, simply because it tells me people are reading.


must say, though, that last week I received perhaps the greatest

recognition ever accorded for one of my ramblings. The blog site

belonging to NPR (National Public Radio) contained a commentary written

by Marc Hirsh, a music writer for the Boston Globe who opted to refute several points in my birthday blog about Kate Bush.

My intent was to show that Ms. Bush has never attained the recognition she deserved in this country and I listed five reasons why I came to that conclusion: She's too British, she's too weird, she's too literary, the aforementioned Ms. Amos has usurped her style and she's way too reclusive. Mr. Hirsh effectively challenges each of my arguments, but with close examination it's clear he's not debunking my theories entirely. As he puts it, it's in "that spirit of the kind of kindred fandom that can only be shared by two people who both love the same thing from the very core of their being and can (and will) furiously gabble on about it to one another all night long unless someone else shuts them up, I am going to rip his arguments to shreds." Yes, Marc, I feel the love. 

He seizes on certain nuances but fails to look at the argument as a whole. It was the combined result of these various circumstances that drove me to reach my conclusion -- not any one of them alone. Ultimately he agrees with my conclusion -- that Ms. Bush has been all but ignored in America, though he seeks to offer other reasons why. "So now that I've lovingly (!) shut down all of Zimmerman's arguments, how to explain Bush's relative lack of success in this country?" he queries. "Well, she certainly didn't fit any of the molds of what women were doing in pop music in the 1980s; only Madonna (who, for whatever it's worth, is a mere 17 days younger than Bush) was as chameleonic, but she was both more overtly sexual and more cannily club-oriented in a particularly dance-crazy decade. And Peter Gabriel notwithstanding, art rock wasn't exactly a ticket to mass success." 

I gotta admit, the guy makes good points, and he does so without any personal putdowns, which is always appreciated. But still, there's one point he misses... my article was mostly tongue in cheek! A stab at sarcasm. And they were theoretical arguments anyway, which are open to varied interpretations. Ultimately, I think Mark and I are kind of saying the same thing, albeit with parallel points of view. 

In any case, I love it that I'm on the NPR website and I think it's great that you saw enough reasoning in my remarks to pick up on the debate. Affirmation comes in many different forms and as the old axiom goes, there's no such thing as bad press as long as they spell your name right. And indeed, you spelled it correctly. I owe you a tall one. 

And by the way, if anyone feels like they have to take issue with the opinions expressed in this column, that's cool too. Just tone down your temper.

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