Working with another artist can often be a seamless process as two creative energies combine magnetically. Still, it doesn’t always work that way, especially when the musicians involved are as extraordinary as Kate Bush, as Elton John discovered.
John and Bush are close friends and have the utmost respect for one another in an artistic sense. However, admiration doesn’t necessarily mean that working together will be easy. Bush is an ethereal talent, one who has etched out a career in a distinctive manner, making her impossible to compare to anyone else – as has Elton John.
If you put together the lengths of their careers, it adds up to the best part of a century, and when you’ve been engaged creatively for such an extensive period, you get used to working in a certain way. For Elton, he initially struggled to get on board with Bush’s madcap methods. However, the final result made the frustrations worthwhile.
“I did a duet with Kate Bush on this track for her last album,” he explained to The Guardian about her 2011 track ‘Snowed in at Wheeler Street’. “That session with her was hard, because she doesn’t write easy songs. She’s a complex songwriter and this is a weird song, but I love it so much. I’m so proud to be on a Kate Bush record; she’s always marched to the beat of her own drum. She was groundbreaking – a bit like a female equivalent of Freddie Mercury.“
Adding: “She does come out socially sometimes and she came to my civil partnership occasion with her husband. There were so many stars in the room, but all the musicians there were only interested in saying, ‘You’ve got to introduce me to Kate Bush.’ I remember Boy George saying, ‘Oh my God, is that Kate Bush?’ I said, ‘Yeah!'”
In his esteemed eyes, Kate Bush can do no wrong, and he’s even opened up in the past about how ‘Don’t Give Up’, her 1986 duet with Peter Gabriel, saved his life by helping him to quit his deadly vices. “This was one record that saved my life,” he revealed in 2014. “That record helped me get sober. So she [Bush] played a big part in my rebirth. That record helped me so much. I never told her that but it did.”
He added, “Rest your head. You worry too much. It’s going to be all right. When times get rough you can fall back on us. Don’t give up.”
Collaboration is never straightforward, and it’s clear that Elton has nothing but love for Bush, who has had more of a positive impact on his life than he could ever do justice with words. Besides, you don’t become a talent like either artist by settling for anything other than the art that you believe in. Otherwise, it’s simply not worth endeavouring with. It’s an ethos that has got her where she is today and made her an iconoclast.