"Classics Rock! is the best of both worlds--music and books."
-- CNBC.com "Bullish on Books" blog

Thursday, June 16, 2011

For Bloomsday: Flower of the Mountain/Kate Bush

All of the events in James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses take place on June 16th. That date has come to be known as Bloomsday, after the novel's protagonist, Leopold Bloom.

Kate Bush's song The Sensual World, from her 1989 album of the same name, is drawn from the 18th and final episode, or chapter, of the novel. Often referred to as Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, it recounts the largely unpunctuated stream-of-consciousness thoughts running through the mind of Leopold's wife, Molly, as she lies in bed at the end of the day. The song employs the conceit of Molly leaving the fictional setting of the novel behind and entering reality (Stepping out of the page into the sensual world).

"Originally when I wrote the song 'The Sensual World' I had used text from the end of Ulysses," Bush told The Guardian in London. "When I asked [the Joyce estate] for permission to use the text I was refused, which was disappointing. I then wrote my own lyrics for the song, although I felt that the original idea had been more interesting. Well, I'm not James Joyce am I?"

Earlier this year Bush was preparing her latest album, Director's Cut, which features reworked versions of songs from The Sensual World and from another album, The Red Shoes (1993). "The Sensual World" was one of the songs marked for revision. "When I came to work on this project I thought I would ask for permission again and this time they said yes," Bush said. For the new version of the song, she scrapped the original lyrics and replaced them with text drawn directly from Ulysses. She also changed the title to Flower Of The Mountain. "I am delighted that I have had the chance to fulfill the original concept," Bush said.

For other music inspired by Ulysses and the works of James Joyce--including another musical adaptation of Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, this one by Amber--see our previous Bloomsday post.

Ulysses (Kindle Edition)