I have a history of ignoring a particularly important or notable artist for years, then hearing them one day and getting obsessed and buying all of their albums. That's basically what happened after with me when it came to Tom Waits and Gram Parsons. At least in the streaming age it doesn't set me back as much, like it has this week.
I am currently reading the novel Beatlebone by Irish author Kevin Barry, which is set in 1978. The main character (who happens to be John Lennon taking a trip to a remote Irish island he bought years before) keeps talking about hearing the song "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush on the radio. Evidently it was a big hit across the pond, but like a lot of great British music, wasn't big in America. I wanted to listen to it so I could better understand its meaning in the book.
I put it on, through the modern magic of Spotify, and was immediately blown away. Kate Bush has a singular voice in pop music, one that is most definitely weird in an off putting way. I used to think the same of Tom Waits, but in both cases once I got over that I realized that these were voices much more compelling than most others. For the past five days now I've been warbling "out on the wiley, windy moors"to myself, even though I am living through the dog days of a New Jersey summer, and not in some foggy bog in the isles. With Bush it just took that hook of the opening lines to keep me coming back to the song until something just clicked and all I could think to myself was that I had been wasting so many years of my life not listening to Kate Bush.
At forty years of age I thought that these moments of intense enthusiasm were over for me, but dang if they still don't happen. I hope they still do in my future, greying years, because having this enthusiasm has reminded me of what it was like when I was 21 and Bowie finally clicked, or when I was 26 and The Band became the only thing I listened to for two months. It just makes me happy to have a love of music as one of my lifetime companions.