Credit: Maia Venezuela

Revisit an early bootleg version of ‘Humming’ pre-fame Kate Bush’s song for David Bowie

We’re dipping into the Far Out vaults to look back at two of favourite artists sharing a tender connection as we look back at Kate Bush’s ode to David Bowie.

Another day and another reason we love Kate Bush, they come thick and fast these days. In this rare recording, which we have just unearthed online, the young Kate Bush, back in 1975, gives a few words on her unreleased rare song ‘Humming’, a track which is widely assumed to be about the legendary Starman, David Bowie.

In the bootleg clip, clearly recorded through somebody’s radio, a reserved and shy Kate Bush talks about the track as if it is the worst song of all time. Written when she was just 15, the song is fairly naive in construction but still holds all the same values as Bush’s later work. The real authenticity comes from the song’s subject matter: Kate Bush’s hero, David Bowie.

Prior to its release in 2018 as a bonus track on a bumper vinyl box set, the song was floating around the airwaves known as ‘Maybe’ or even ‘Davy’. The latter of which is a clear nod to the beginning of Bowie’s career as Davy Jones. The track pays homage to the flame-haired alien from outer space, not through the music (which is actually more akin to Bush’s other hero Elton John) but through her trademark wondrous, cheeky and very intelligent lyrics.

Now, forgive us, as we’re about to do a lot of ‘supposing’, but hey, we’ve all got the time don’t we? The first reference is a tongue-in-cheek to Bowie’s music rival in the glam rock world, the leading man of Roxy Music Bryan Ferry in the line: “Who’ll ferry me”.

The links continue to pop up in the lyrics, which can be found below, with references to discoloured eyes, being a rock singer, talk of groupies, and the continuous references to stars —it all adds up to this being Kate’s version of ‘Song For Bob Dylan’.

The track came at a very exciting period for David Bowie. He had ditched the long-haired hippy vibe of Hunky Dory and was instead intent on establishing his incarnation Ziggy Stardust. The rock world was taken aback by the transformation and his output, it’s no wonder when people like Bush were caught up in his wake. Bush was even standing solemnly when at the Hammersmith Apollo in 1973 Bowie killed off his alter-ego Ziggy.

In fact, we’d even go as far to suggest that the song is about this very moment.

The yearning in Bush’s lyrics, coupled with the song’s love-letter qualities, send a message of missing somebody truly special. Written at the age of 15, just a year after Ziggy was sent back up into outer space, it makes sense that a heartbroken Bush would pen a song for the moonage daydreamer and the hole he left behind in her.

It’s a wonderful song which is given an extra kick of gravitas by the small and sweet intro she gives the song on the radio but with its latest release in 2018, is given a modern face-lift. Kate Bush is very shy about most personal things in her life but she wasn’t shy about Bowie. Below is the message she wrote for David upon hearing of his passing.

“David Bowie had everything. He was intelligent, imaginative, brave, charismatic, cool, sexy and truly inspirational both visually and musically. He created such staggeringly brilliant work, yes, but so much of it and it was so good. There are great people who make great work but who else has left a mark like his? No one like him.

I’m struck by how the whole country has been flung into mourning and shock. Shock, because someone who had already transcended into immortality could actually die. He was ours. Wonderfully eccentric in a way that only an Englishman could be.

Whatever journey his beautiful soul is now on, I hope he can somehow feel how much we all miss him.”

Kate Bush

Below you can find both versions of the song as ‘Humming’ and ‘Davy’ which are both imbued with the adoration of a true fan. Not only is it inspirational to hear Kate Bush rendered to a fangirl but also that she managed to turn it into a career.

You set the scene for any revolutionary
Who’ll ferry me
A crossing to enlivenment
Well not a cloud in his eye, not a blue in the sky
And they were rocking
Because he’s a rock singer too
So maybe you may have many birds
And many songs for your morning
You’re so like a star upon me
You’re so like a star upon me
To be one in your garden
Humming, humming
Well strike a light in my head
Watch me buzz around the floor
But it’s no good
Because you give your own buzz and more
Everything is a stride it’s alright
While you’re playing boy
But when you go there’s nothing
There’s nothing left

Source: Steve Pafford

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content