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I Can Fly Above The Weather; When Kate Bush Met Howard Hughes

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

Through night-time and the morning grey/ Sunshine or a rainy day

I know I can fly above the weather/ Hey, hey, hey hey!

As I write this, it is the morning of my birthday on Sunday, April 18th, 2021. I don’t have a party planned; should I cry, if I want to? No, I don’t think I shall; I’d rather fly, above the weather.

In all of my 47 years, I can probably count the times I have flown, nearly on one hand. A tad shameful, one might say, as my father began his career as a very good flight engineer, with much promise. I’m always astonished by the way the sun shines invariably brilliantly, and the air is clear and calm, above the turbulence, and cloud cover in the lower atmosphere: which have originally kidded us into thinking it’s just another grey day, when of course it’s not at all.

My father had it pointed out to him by my notoriously risk-averse mother, that his time would be more safely spent on some sort of earth-bound job, than in the air. Though he had been an excellent student who was well-travelled, and could have gone on to be one of the top players in his field, he was, from the time of his marriage, effectively grounded.

So, though flying was always something of a mystery to me - as it is with many fields which I admit I know very little, or nothing about; such as any science involving mechanics, algebra or physics (I ended up being a whiz at Chemistry - don’t ask me why) - I’ve always loved to write songs about crazy inventors, or mad artists. And I can tell you exactly where that comes from; it goes all the way back to the equally mysterious Kate Bush.

When I was a kid, and a teenager in the 1980s, Kate Bush dominated the music scene, as now, with sometimes brilliant, and inevitably experimental work, interspersed with long periods of unexplained elusiveness. I can’t call myself a die-hard Kate Bush fan, as I most definitely don’t like all of her work. However, the moments of true genius continue to hold incredible fascination for me, due to the fact that they’re simply completely original; there is nothing like them anywhere in the world - or nothing quite like them, anyway. Nothing. There are, or have been, some soundalikes around - notably, Tori Amos (who eventually went on to spawn her own set of soundalikes) - and of course, my good self!

One thing I liked about Kate Bush, apart from the music, was her subject-matter. She’d write about novels; or fairy stories; or big ideas; or great men. Or, if she had to write about the ubiquitous subject of “luuurve”, she’d take it on - albeit, couched in unusual terms. And, unlike most popular musicians, she had the talent to be granted leave, to get away with it. So, it is that we have Delius, we have Babooshka, we have Heathcliff, we have the man who’s captivated with the number Pi, we have Cloudbusting; we have her take on Ulysses - all, somehow, integrated with a little slice of England, that makes those from across the globe want to come and visit, even if only in their minds.

The consummate armchair traveller myself, I was a young girl when I listened to her music, and held some of these thoughts, these ideas, for a very long time; let’s say, decades. I wasn’t ready to write music of any sort of calibre, yet. I was a late-flowering genius; unless you are a very precocious child, you won’t be believable in your creativity, until you’ve honed your skills that much more, and you’ve seen something of life, love and loss. Songwriting, like artforms, can be learned; but your tools have to be something you can work with to produce something startlingly new. Or, at least, with the intention of doing something startlingly new. If the intention is there in the first place, there is every bit of a chance you will attain exactly this end. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

So it was that I ended up mimicking the Kate Bush approach, and writing songs about the movie Eyes Wide Shut; about Van Gogh, Bluebeard, Frida Kahlo, and yes, the eponymous Queen Christina. It’s possible I may have missed a few, but I’m proud to say that all the songs I’ve mentioned were good songs, with musical as well as stylistic integrity.

However, one of the songs of which I’m most proud, is my Howard Hughes song “Aviator” (2008). This song was from a 3-song EP called “Modern Dreams”, and part of my repertoire that was produced through the very successful teamwork of myself, and Uptown Studios' Anthony Galatis. Anthony went on to write chart singles; I went on to X Factor. But, this song did actually have the X Factor, in that it’s completely original - and, curiously, sounds pretty much like it could have been written by Kate Bush. Except, it’s not by Kate Bush.

I first saw the film “Aviator” in 2004. Leonardo DiCaprio was pretty much everywhere at the time, and was one of my reasons for seeing the film, but I was also fascinated by the subject-matter, in particular Hughes’ idiosyncrasies, and the ongoing duel with PanAm's Juan Trippe (played by Alec Baldwin, a perfect nemesis), featured in the film. Like my father, Hughes was, technically speaking, a flight engineer, and by all accounts had a large degree of natural expertise in the area, even if his experiments didn’t always go to plan.

Like myself, he was an only child, with, I’m sure, a degree of loneliness; remoteness from others; a healthy level of self-interest; and the potential for being sharply focussed, which comes with the territory. And like myself, he was clearly nuts. Unlike him, however, I wasn’t a billionaire by birth. Hughes got lucky, due to his father’s very fortuitous invention of a drill-bit for oil wells; however, in view of the loss of both his parents in his late teens, this must have been scant compensation.

Now, what am I going to do with my day? Well, for starters, it looks bright and sunny, so I think I shall firstly, take one of my famously brisk walks through a beautiful nature reserve. Then, if I’ve time, I shall photograph some of the brilliant artworks decorating the buildings nearby, and possibly amble home and do some design work, before readying myself for the new week.

Much has happened in my life recently that I would rather forget; however, we must remind ourselves that it’s always important to enjoy the good times, when they do come around. I have found, through experience, that my birthday month only really kicks off around my birthday; it’s the beginning of my new year. So, I say to myself, that each time I see a challenge coming up, I know I can face it, and hold this thought:

Oh whoah/ I’m going round and round and round and round the bend, oh

Oh whoah/ I’m grounded on the top floor

Turn the lights off/ Switch a movie on/ I’ve seen it before

I gave my all to the modern age/ Remember when I fell from the sky

My body was burned, I was in disgrace/ But I kept myself alive

Through night-time and the morning grey/ Sunshine or a rainy day

I know I can fly above the weather/ Hey, hey, hey hey!

“Aviator” © Christina Brodie/ Crimari, 2008, 2020/ 2021

Hear the song, here, at:

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