An unusual title, with songs selected and arranged by the author, and compelling introduction by novelist David Mitchell, How To Be Invisible presents the lyrics of Kate Bush published together for the first time. A book that is akin to a poetry collection, except David is correct, you cannot help yourself but sing along to the lyrics that you know, recollecting those beloved songs from this cherished singer/songwriter.
Included in the introduction, which the book is worth reading for alone, is this, For millions around the world, Kate is way more than another singer-songwriter: she is a creator of musical companions that travel with you through life. One paradox about Kate is that while her lyrics are proudly idiosyncratic, those same lyrics evoke emotions and sensations that feel universal. Literature works in similar mysterious ways. Kate’s the opposite of a confessional singer-songwriter … You don’t learn much about Kate from her songs. She’s fond of masks and costumes – lyrically and literally – and of yarns, fabulations and atypical narrative viewpoints. Yet, these fiercely singular songs, which nobody else could have authored, are also maps of the heart, the psyche, the imagination. In other words, art.‘ David Mitchell, with this will intrigue potential new fans of Bush as he puts a coherent argument as to why anyone should respect and treasure her talent, although I do expect that most purchasing of this book will be from her many fans.
And it’s such a charming collection of Kate’s songs, she has a remarkable way with words, lyrical, poetic, which renders this such a marvellous book, as this experience of reading lyrics written out in poetry form wouldn’t work for everyone. Her imagery and metaphor makes for a fantastic read. Given the reminder and impulse, I had the notion to pick up her albums, The Director’s Cut and Aerial again to re-listen and inhale the beauty that lies there, after reading the lyrics from the track, Aerial or indeed, How To Be Invisible, which are rather fantastical.
And like poetry it is something you can dip in and out of should you choose, rather than read it intensively. Two of my particularly favourites not put to music, is aptly, Eat The Music and Leave It Open, with the repetition and imagery, we indulge in something richly delicious. So it doesn’t just appeal to the fans, it can open up their knowledge to the lyrics of songs that they are not quite so familiar with, adding an extra level of appreciation. It’s certainly a feat, this book, and would not work for everyone, but for Kate, it’s ideal, it highlights her surreal imagery and lyrical capability, which has only strengthened with age.
Images courtesy of Faber & Faber, who have published How To Be Invisible by Kate Bush.
How To Be Invisible is available now, published by Faber & Faber.