SPRING 1980. Kate Bush is playing with an expensive new toy. She has managed to get her hands on a Fairlight CMI synthesiser (those last three letters stand for Computer Music Instrument). It’s a machine that lets Bush record, sample and loop sounds. And on this particular day the sound she has in mind is breaking glass.

“The first glass hit the famous tea-coloured parquet floor of Abbey Road’s Studio Two,” Tom Doyle writes in his new book Running Up That Hill. “Another quickly followed. Then another and another. Before long, the place was a mess, jagged shards strewn everywhere.”

The result? Apart from a few disgruntled EMI canteen staff, a sample that she then laid over the climax of her new song Babooshka.

Released as a single in June of that year, Babooshka would give Bush a top five hit, teenage boys a vision of the pop star in a chain mail bikini in the accompanying video and listeners a preview of the sonic adventurousness that was to be central to her third album Never for Ever, released the following September.

This idea of Bush as a sonic explorer is very much at the heart of Doyle’s book. It argues the case that Bush should be seen as an auteur.

Is that even in doubt? After a singular career stretching back nearly 50 years and 10 studio albums (and then there’s the live album Before the Dawn recorded during her 2014 shows), Bush’s artistic agency should be taken as read, you might think.

But then it’s not so very long ago that Bjork, another singular female musical talent, felt the need to speak up for herself in the face of journalists keen to give much of the credit to her male collaborators.

Drawing on an extensive interview he conducted with Bush in her Berkshire home for Mojo magazine in 2005 ahead of the release of the double album Aerial, Doyle’s book (subtitled 50 Visions of Kate Bush) is a comprehensive rejection of the caricatures that still cling stubbornly to its subject’s name; the supposed eccentricity, the arms-whirling, screeching-voiced cartoon of her talent latched onto by impersonators in her early days, the idea that in her later years she became a recluse. (The reality? As Doyle says, “rather than retreating from the normal world,” in the wake of becoming a mother, “Kate Bush had retreated to the normal world”).

And as for any notions of fragility or girlishness, well, Bush had some thoughts on that when Doyle met her. “I find it really infuriating when I read … ‘she had a nervous breakdown’ or ‘she’s not very mentally stable, just a weak frail little creature’.” Bush explained in that 2005 interview. “It’s like … F*** off!”

Such sweary conviction shouldn’t really come as a surprise though if you have been paying attention. To listen to Bush’s music over the years - its individuality, its unwillingness to conform, its readiness to embrace its creator’s wildest ideas - is to hear the work of an artist whose default setting is steeliness and self-belief.

This year has seen a remarkable Bush revival thanks to the use of her 1985 single Running Up the Hill in the Netflix series Stranger Things. Doyle’s book is well-timed for this moment of rediscovery (or, in the case of younger listeners, discovery).

Some of us, of course, are old enough to recall her making her first astonishing mark on the culture in the late 1970s. Her first single Wuthering Heights was (still is) sui generis. Written when Bush was 18 and released in January 1978 - at Bush’s insistence; her record company EMI wanted to go with the more traditionally rockist James and the Cold Gun - it announced her arrival and marked her out, conspicuous in her difference.

An outlier from the post-punk moment it emerged into, and powered by a voice that made no effort to conform to conventionality, in many ways it sounds like a classic one-hit wonder. But a few months later Bush was back in the top 10 with her follow-up single Man With The Child In His Eyes, a frighteningly precocious thing written when she was just 13 and recorded when she was 16. Both singles and her debut album The Kick Inside marked out her territory. Bush wrote about female passion and desire with both an intensity and at times a shocking magination.

Still, it was just about possible, particularly in those early years, I suppose, to frame Bush as a soft-spoken doctor’s daughter who sang about things she read in books and saw in movies; the teatime Sunday classic serial transposed to pop in the shape of a teenage girl.

But to do so meant you had to overlook the singularity and intensity of her performances and ignore what she was singing about.

The title track of The Kick Inside was about an incestuous pregancy after all. On Never for Ever, The Infant Kiss, if anything a more unsettling song now than it was when it was released, is about a governess who is both aroused and disturbed by the goodnight kiss of her infant charge. It was inspired by The Innocents, the film adaptation of Henry James’s novella The Turn of the Screw.

Bush brought a Gothic sensibility to her work that displaced any sense of her middle-class, comfortable background.

After the release of The Kick Inside she was rushed into recording her second album Lionheart, much to her annoyance. By the time she recorded Never for Ever Bush was seizing the means of production, becoming her own producer. Her fourth album The Dreaming (Bjork’s favourite Kate Bush album), proved an exhaustive, exhausting experience for its creator. But it is also a dizzyingly immersive album that sees Bush move away from the pop mainstream and take huge risks. The result is dense, sometimes difficult but also enthralling. If Never for Ever is the sound of a musician chasing the sound in her head, The Dreaming is what happens when she catches it.

Of course you could say that about any of Bush’s subsequent albums. The follow-up Hounds of Love (1985) is for many her masterpiece. It is as notable for its song suite The Ninth Wave, about a woman lost at sea, that took up its entire second side (back in the vinyl years) as for the singles that made up the first side.

And even those singles are Bushian in their ambition and strangeness. Running Up That Hill is subtitled (A Deal With God) after all.

But Hounds of Love did mark a move away from some of the eldritch energies of her early albums. This had pluses and minuses. The frankly misogynistic depiction of her as an eccentric that dogged her in the early days (never a charge laid at Dylan or Bowie), began to retreat but her sound began to be a little less wild and wilful (though still often more beautiful than anyone else’s).

Taking control of her work also saw her taking control of her time. Time between albums began to stretch. You could paint her as the Stanley Kubrick of music, a perfectionist sticking persistently to her vision no matter how long it took.

Art, like life, changes as we grow older. Bush didn’t stop dressing up but as she moved into middle age her songwriting became increasingly marked by lived experience. Perhaps in the end she didn’t turn out to be the Gothic heroine of her and our dreams (even though she’s always had the hair for it).

Instead, she embraced the everyday heroism of real life. As she sang on Moments of Pleasure, one of those songs that seems to be constantly on the verge of tears (Bush’s mother died shortly after it was recorded), “just being alive/ It can really hurt …”

Here come the hills of time indeed.

It strikes me that is why I still adore her now. If my love for Kate Bush was born in a mix of my own teenage hormones and a sense of complicity with her Gothic bookishness, in the years since there is the sense that she has been reporting back to me from a few years further down the road on what lies ahead; the catalogue of loss and grief that we begin to accrue as the days mount up.

And yet the everyday joy of being alive is in there too. (“Just your shirt/Hanging on the washing line/Waving its arm as the wind blows by…”)

As Doyle’s book reminds us, Bush’s artistry is full of complexity, both sonically and thematically. She is a deeply English artist, yet her Irish heritage is written all over her songbook. She is both the middle-class, maybe rather coddled daughter of a doctor and at the same time a radical figure; a fearless singer-songwriter who stood up to her record company, to male producers and insisted that things be done her way. She willed herself into existence and stood up to anyone who tried to get in the way. And yet her work is full of light and love.

What does this all mean? It means that Kate Bush herself is sui generis.

Now, any chance of releasing the video of those 2014 shows, Kate?

Running Up That Hill by Tom Doyle is published by Nine Eight Books, £20