Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Molly Bloom sings

As I confessed in a post a while ago, I've never made it entirely through James Joyce's Ulysses. After a few futile attempts to get past the first section, I gave up—but that didn't stop me from reading Molly Bloom's famous soliloquy at the end, a passage that has become a cultural reference (Molly Bloom is the name of at least one bar and one band, and the speech has been widely quoted/recited, including in a Rodney Dangerfield movie).

An NPR segment last week on Kate Bush has me delving back into Ulysses-world, or really, Molly/Kate-world. Bush recorded a song in the late eighties, "The Sensual World" that paraphrased the famous passage (the Joyce estate wouldn't give her permission to do the text verbatim). She has now re-recorded it on her new album, Director's Cut as "Flower of the Mountain" with the original text intact.

I found Bush's video for the original version online and keep listening to/watching it over and over (see below). I can't say why I find it so appealing—it's not got a beat that I can dance to and, even after repeated listening, I still can't sing along with it. Maybe what's gratifying is seeing her attempt at making a literary passage come to life; it's also nice to see a female singer who isn't groveling for approval, but making a video that is a kind of performance art.

To hear the new version, see the NPR segment's track list. (It's not available for purchase until May 31st).

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