In 1979, with a bitterly cold winter raging outside, Kate Bush sat down at a piano to deliver a rendition of her song ‘December Will Be Magic Again’ as part of her own Christmas TV special.
Full of the vocal dexterity and refined piano arrangments that made her breakout single ‘Wuthering Heights’ such a hit the year before, this track -later released as a single in the December of 1980 – may not have endured as well as some of the other festive offerings of the era, but the TV special as a whole certainly takes the biscuit.
Featuring just one recognisably Christmassy song, it is a mind-bending theatrical odyssey that sees Bush perform a range of tracks from her first three albums, with a rendition of Erik Satie’s ‘Gymnopodie No. 3’ thrown in for good measure.
By the time Kate Bush sat down to write ‘December Will Be Magic Again,’ she was in the middle of recording her third album Never For Ever, a record which would land Bush such hit singles as ‘Babooshka’, ‘Breathing’, and ‘Army Dreamers’. Despite the tepid reception of her sophomore album Lionheart, she’d managed to win back her fans with her spectacular Tour Of Life concert tour, which was praised for its originality and spectacular visual appeal. Having been forced to turn down a slot supporting Fleetwood Mac on their Tusk tour, it was clear that Bush was in the midst of one of the busiest and most creatively rewarding periods of her life, and she wanted more.
So, when she was invited to host her own TV Christmas special in 1979, she jumped at the chance. Directed by Roy Norton, the 45-minute performance saw Bush bring the theatricality of her stage show to the small screen, offering her suburban-bound teenage fans the chance to see her in action. From the moment she jumps into the frame, dressed like some chiffon-clad bat, it’s clear Bush has no intention of offering us any of the wholesomeness of the Morecambe and Wise Christmas specials – rather her intention is to thrill us into submission.
Surreal and heartwarming in equal measure, Kate: Kate Bush Christmas Special 1979 is a wonder to behold. As well as containing some hilariously overblown choreography, (including the moment in ‘Them Heavy People’ when one of Bush’s dancers breaks a glass bottle over her head) it also features a couple of amazing cameos, including one by Peter Gabriel.
So, if you’re looking for something unusual to watch this Christmas, look no further.