Moreover, if I had to forgo all but one artist, all categories included, commercially assigned or otherwise, I’d have to retain the one who – in spite of the inclusion in her nom due plume of her family name proper – is called simply Kate by many an admirer.
To her I was a late-comer; she’d been around professionally for a good seven years, lucky for many to be sure. My exposure was via the following song, this version of which does no real justice to the original recording, but is unique in that it’s the only live performance of the piece to be seen; she all but completely quit playing out after her first & only tour in the seventies.
It remains her greatest hit to date, which is significant because it represents to me a time spent sleeping & awakening with a quite sudden & unexpected love, amidst an affair that was predestined to end very soon, as I was to be leaving in a matter of days on a journey long & far away.
As is wont of chart toppers, the song played at the same time on subsequent early mornings. In this case, it was via the alarm clock’s “wake to music” feature, descending from on high from my hostess’ bedroom dresser. It sounded so mysterious, even, or especially, to wake to, and transmitted through the bittersweetness of those moments an ethereal complement.
I had no idea who sang it, or that she’d composed, arranged, and produced it herself; that she’d programmed that weird sound on the Fairlight; that she’d originally intended to call it Deal with God, but eventually gave in to those who insisted it wouldn’t get played, an acquiescence made remarkable in that it came from she, who had become notorious for prevailing in such matters, as she had prevailed on its being the single in the first place, for instance, the company preferring Cloudbusting, or how she’d prevailed seven years earlier on Wuthering Heights being her first single ever, which then went on to be a number one hit and proved the nineteen-year-old more capable of predicting what will resonate than record execs.
It resonated those mornings in waves to the nines.
But to me at the time none of that really mattered, credit the coincidence that I’d had the only thing on my mind that could’ve trumped its bearing. Though unique and intense as a soundtrack, it scored something as immeasurably so, so I remained ignorant of the artist’s otherwise existence for some time to come.
About twenty-something months later, I was watching a VHS copy of The Chocolate War and heard the song again for the first time since, over the end-title credits. It took serious squinting to make out her name; I was sure I’d heard it somewhere before, its conjuring a vague recollection of talk about that strange chick who sang.
It wouldn’t take me long to go out and buy her entire catalogue; each favorite never for ever being and becoming favored over each other.
With thanks in celebratory appreciation to one Black Dog Red.