Fiona: “Being a Kate Bush fan in North America can be a lonely experience, and that’s why ‘Lily’ has grown into one of my favourite Kate songs – not only because it’s a fabulous song, but also because of the events it represents to me.
‘Lily’ is one of the tracks on The Red Shoes, an uneven album that shows off Kate’s great range of creativity but also chronicles the turmoil that was then going on in her personal life. When The Red Shoes was released, I was living in Eastern Canada, in a small(ish) city with one record store that never stocked much other than the latest Top 40 radio hits. So I had to make a roundtrip of several hours, including a ferry ride, to another part of the region before I could get my hands on The Red Shoes. I still have the CD and the 12” picture disk I bought that day.
‘Lily’ caught my ear immediately because of its powerful spiritual invocations and its strength. I was intrigued to learn that the song was based on Kate’s experiences in working with Lily Cornford, a spiritual healer in London whose practice centered around colour therapy. Lily is the voice at the start of the song, reciting the prayer that starts the sessions at her school (http://www.maitreyaschoolandhealingcentre.org.uk/more_about_us.htm_ ) As I looked at the photographs of Lily and read about her work, her sensible attitude and her openness reminded me of the older women in my mother’s family as I was growing up. They too were women of great strength and practicality that I learned so much from.
And then Kate chose ‘Lily’ to be the first song in her Before The Dawn live shows in 2014. I travelled to London to see three of these shows, which was crazy in some ways but something I decided I had to do. I clearly remember standing in the WHSmith shop at Waterloo station, staring at a newspaper display table covered with stories about the show’s opening night, and wondering if I had somehow fallen into some strange alternate reality where Kate Bush was front-page news. I will never forget the feeling of sitting anxiously in the darkened and hot balcony of the Hammersmith Apollo, as Lily’s recorded voice wafted over the speakers, invoking blessings on us for the journey we were all about to embark on – and then the stage exploding with light and sound as Kate and her band danced out in a line, with her at the end, and launching into the song. That alone makes ‘Lily’ unforgettable for me..”