The song Kate Bush wrote about Elvis Presley and ‘Citizen Kane’
There have been countless songs written about the late, great king of rock ‘n’ roll, Elvis Presley, but none of them are as unique as this one. However, once you know that the song in question has one of Britain’s most singular artists of all time — Kate Bush — behind it, it all becomes a little more expected.
Kate Bush has written some of the stranger pieces of pop gold in memory. The acclaimed singer isn’t just a supreme vocalist capable of voicebox gymnastics, she is also an expert songwriter. Making her debut with ‘Wuthering Heights’, a song inspired by the literary work of the same name by Emily Bronte, Bush scored a number one to become the first female artist to have written and performed a number one song. From that moment on, Bush has never been afraid to let her imagination run wild, and on this song, she not only talks about The King but the acclaimed film Citizen Kane too.
When the Bush announced her first album in 12 years, Aerial, was set to arrive in 2005, the world gasped. Bush had been in hiding for over a decade and only shown herself when she saw fit, choosing to neglect her fame and instead focus on normalising a life that hadn’t even been simple since she was a teenager. Discovered by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour when she was 15, it’s no surprise she had sought some shade away from the spotlight.
It’s also why, when Bush released her first single from the album ‘King of the Mountain’, many thought it was an autobiographical song. However, she soon corrected this notion: “I was very much writing about Elvis,” she explained in a BBC4 radio interview. “I mean that kind of fame that he must’ve been living with, must’ve been unbearable… I can’t imagine what it must be like. I don’t think human beings are really built to withstand that kind of fame.” Naturally, Bush saw a kindred spirit in Elvis’ existence, but she also drew another strange comparison.
Orson Welles’ 1941 film Citizen Kane is largely considered one of the finest films ever made and, with a view on the fame and extra attention it has received over the years, Bush saw fit to draw comparisons between it and Elvis. Within the song, Bush also wonders whether Elvis is still alive and “looking like a happy man” or even possibly playing with Kane’s own “Rosebud” the main protagonist’s childhood snow sledge.
Ever the performer, Bush also sees fit to adopt an Elvis-like drawl to balance her usually potent but high pitched vocals. It showcases a singer who may well have taken some time off but was still very much at the top of her game. It reached number four in the charts and proved once again that Kate Bush was a serious artist.