#511 ‘Cloudbusting’ by Kate Bush (4 Sep)

Album: Hounds of Love, 1985

Justification: As you’re quite possibly aware, the “I just know that something good is gonna happen” refrain from Utah Saints’ ‘Something Good’ is sampled from this song, which is inspired by one of the more interesting stories in modern science.

Wilhelm Reich was a psychiatrist who studied under Freud, had radical ideas about psychoanalysis and medicine, and was convinced that there was an energy that fuelled life and pretty much everything else, which he called “orgone”. He was massively big on sexual energy, fled Austria to escape the Nazis, was persecuted for his theories in Scandinavia (although that might have been more to do with the free and easy way he conducted his sex life) before heading to the US where he got another dose of it, eventually being jailed for breaching a FDA order to destroy his equipment and dying of a heart attack after a year in the slammer.

Purple: it’s a motif.

Now, it’s worth pointing out that his theories were, y’know, wrong: his orgone accumulation chambers (which he claimed built up sexual energy and cured cancer, among other things) were examined and experimented upon by scientists of the day, including Einstein himself, who established that there was indeed an interesting energy exchange going on, but that it was entirely to do with the internal temperature gradient. Reich angrily rejected their results, which was pretty much his stock response to most criticisms. And that’s problematic enough when working in a university setting, but a really good way to make things escalate badly when dealing with the police and the government: while there’s no argument that the FDA were heavy-handed in their treatment of him, there’s also no doubt that Reich’s imperious attitude did him no favours. Arguing that a judge has no authority to determine his guilt or innocence without reading all of one’s works is a pretty good way to give them the shits.

Reich’s son Peter wrote a book about his father’s work, arrest and trial, entitled A Book of Dreams. This is where Kate Bush got the idea from the song, and she’s playing Peter in the (Julian Doyle-direct, Terry Gilliam-conceived) video, with Donald Sutherland as Wilhelm – because if there’s one thing that the busty, round-hipped Bush looks exactly like when you stick a wig on her, it’s an eight year old boy.

The idea of the lone genius being persecuted by a thuggish government is a powerful one, although it would be even better if Reich had science on his side and if his “cloubusters” actually worked. As best I can ascertain, one was tested once and it supposedly rained, which isn’t exactly an experimental slam-dunk.

Great song, though.

SONG YOU SHOULD HAVE REDISCOVERED THIS TIME IN 2010 and 2011: Nothing for either, so let’s have ‘Don’t You Want Me?’ by the Human League from 3/9/2010 and Ike & Tina Turner’s ‘Nutbush City Limits’ from 2/9/11. Deal?


506: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins: I Put a Spell on You (10 Aug)

507. Iggy & the Stooges: Search & Destroy (13 Aug)

508. The Jazz Butcher: She’s on Drugs (15 Aug)

509. Boards of Canada: ROYGBIV (22 Aug)

510. Juliana Hatfield: Everybody Loves Me But You (27 Aug)

3 thoughts on “#511 ‘Cloudbusting’ by Kate Bush (4 Sep)

  1. Pingback: #512 ‘Each Time You Smile’ by Sounds Like Sunset (5 Sep) | Songs You Should Rediscover Today Because They Are Awesome

  2. Pingback: #514 ‘Sugar Water’ by Cibo Matto (14 Sep) | Andrew P Street is the Internet

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