The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary (1985)
Billy Duffy’s warrior riff rips through the trashing waves, mounts the rocky shores of Newfoundlands and we fall to our knees, submitting willingly to its pagan purity, storm clouds cloak the earth and stone of the ancestors,an ecstatic mating call to bring forth Valkyrian maidens from all corners of this Valhalla.
Rising from the primal muck wastelands (or suburbs) of West Yorkshire to inhabit the cock rock, jack daniels industry gutter of Sunset Strip, The Cult are aptly named within their homeland,the band often finding more commercial acceptance within the contrived LA rock and roll sleaze factory, the wide open spaces of North America more accepting of seekers, chancers and myth makers than in the English provinces.
But enough of the grand, pompous cultural pronouncements and revel in the evergreen glory of their breakthrough 1985 single, a grab you by the balls attention seeker that barrels through caution and restraint with awesome control and like all great rock and roll music, transforms and transports any and all who cop an earful of its ad friendly majesty to a universe of their choosing.
All this fretting about what to write when one can just let it flow like….yes, the sea. See what I did there? But seriously folks, I;m not going to pretend I know what Mike Scott‘s lyrics, both elusive and plain; poetic even are about.
But right now it’s the sound of throwing off the shackles of past behaviour, history, the weight of the mind; self analysis making way for reflection and ultimately surrender. The shedding of the mortal skin and individual, painful desires and passing through to a world of spiritual, elemental and beyond understanding.
The song surges and crashes like a wave constantly in motion and Scott’s voice is righteous passion, wonder and humility; a sage wanderer in awe of life.
Behold the sea.
Today is Father’s day here in Ireland. So, in celebration I’ve chosen this song and video by the magnificent Kate Bush. It brings back vivid memories of being stuck in front of the television on dreamy Sundays watching the relatively new phenomenon of the music video take place inside the magic box. Even as a child, Bush’s music and videos seemed strange, unsettling and powerful on a primal level. This clip for Cloudbusting, the second single from her 1985 album Hounds of Love is a short narrative in which Miss Bush dresses up as a boy/girl and moons over her dad Donald Sutherland and his weird machine contraption that controls the weather. At least that’s how I processed the video when I was eight or nine years old on the most basic surface level.
Miss Bush was moved to write the song after reading Peter Reich’s memoir ‘ A Book of Dreams‘. Reich was the son of Wilhelm Reich, the reknowned Austrian psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who fled his Nazi occupied homeland in 1939 for America.
Towards the end of his life Reich devised an invention known as a ‘cloudbuster’, a set of hollow metal pipes and cables inserted into water which Reich believed could be used to manipulate weather by altering levels of atmospheric ‘orgone’ ( a primordial cosmic energy present in physical and emotional matter). Reichs theories were viewed with great suspicion by the federal authorities and he was eventually imprisoned for two years for contempt of court after violating an injunction which sought to prevent Reich from promoting and distributing his devices. He died in a Pensylvanian prison at the age of 60.
Cloudbusting focuses on the Reich’s relationship whilst offering a more hopeful outcome than in reality. It communicates the joy and pain of the parental bond, closeness and the separation. The father is a dreamer who instills this sense of wonder and possibility in his son and by the songs end this ability to dream, to believe in an idea, to invent remains unbroken and the clouds finally part in triumph.