KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

Head'S We'Re Dancing

I found it really funny, bit strange in a way...

That's a very dark song, not funny at all!

"It was'39,before the music started." did you write it to tie in with the war anniversary?

No, purely coincidental. I wrote the song two years ago, and in lots of ways I wouldn't write a song like it now. I'd really hate it if people were offended by this...But it was all started by a family friend, years ago, who'd been to dinner and sat next to this guy who was really fascinating, so charming. They sat all night chatting and joking. And next day he found out it was Oppenheimer. And this friend was horrified because he really despised what the guy stood for.

I understood the reaction, but I felt a bit sorry for Oppenheimer. He tried to live with what he'd done, and actually, I think, committed suicide.

But I was so intrigued by this idea of my friend being so taken by this person until they knew who they were, and then it completely changing their attitude.

So I was thinking, what if you met the Devil? The Ultimate One: charming, elegant, well spoken.

Then it turned into this whole idea of a girl being at a dance and this guy coming up, cocky and charming, and she dances with him. Then a couple of days later she sees in the paper that it was Hitler. Complete horror: she was that close, perhaps could've changed history.

Hitler was very attractive to women because he was such a powerful figure, yet such an evil guy. I'd hate to feel I was glorifying the situation, but I do know that whereas in a piece of film it would be quite acceptable, in a song it's a little bit sensitive. (1989, NME)


I must ask you this - you must know what this one's about. It's called ``headswe'redancing'' and... I read the lyrics here - well, no, I'm not going to read them out but you just tell me what gave you the idea for this song.

This is the darkest song on the album and I think, in some ways, it's not a song I would write now. But I had a friend who went to this dinner, years ago. He was sitting next to this guy all evening and they were chatting - they had some of the most incredible conversations: he was so impressed with this guy. He was so intellectual and charming; so well-read, you know. He just thought this guy was perfect - the chemistry between them... wonderful! They talked all night. And the next day, he went up to his friend who had arranged the evening and he said, ``Who was that guy I was sitting next to last night? He was fascinating!'' And the guy said to him, ``Oh, didn't you know? That was Oppenheimer!'' And my friend's reaction was absolute horror, because he had no idea. And if he had known, he said he would never have behaved like that. He's not even sure he would have spoken to the guy because he had such strong feelings of hatred for everything that man represented. I thought that was really a bizarre and interesting situation, that he should really have liked this guy. He was sitting there with this person and he really liked him. But as soon as he knew the guy's name, he almost wanted to throw up in absolute disgust, he was so turned off by what this guy represented. And I thought, in some ways it must have been a wonderful relief for Oppenheimer that night. I think he himself perhaps paid the price - you know what I mean? He did not have an easy conscience, that man. And I was thinking this was very interesting: the idea of someone you found so charming, and later you find out they're the most horrific thing you can imagine. And I thought, well, this is kind of like the devil, isn't it? Where the devil is meant to be very sweet-spoken, very charming, very good looking! Everything that's kind of attractive in order to tempt - temptation is an attractive thing. And I thought, what about the idea of someone who dances with the devil? And then I thought, you can't, you know - it has to be a human. Who is the nearest thing to the embodiment of the devil? It's Hitler: he is the personification of evil, as far as you can think of a single being out of history. It's a very dark idea, but it's the idea of this girl who goes to a big ball; very expensive, romantic, exciting, and it's 1939, before the war starts. And this guy, very charming, very sweet-spoken, comes up and asks her to dance but he does it by throwing a coin and he says, ``If the coin lands with heads facing up, then we dance!'' Even that's a very attractive ``come on", isn't it? And the idea is that she enjoys his company and dances with him and, days later, she sees in the paper who it is, and she is hit with this absolute horror - absolute horror. What could be worse? To have been so close to the man... she could have tried to kill him... she could have tried to change history, had she known at that point what was actually happening. And I think Hitler is a person who fooled so many people. He fooled nations of people. And I don't think you can blame those people for being fooled, and maybe it's these very charming people... maybe evil is not always in the guise you expect it to be. (1989, Roger Scott)


Years ago this friend of mine went to a dinner and spent the whole evening chatting to this fascinating guy, incredibly charming, witty, well-read, but never found out his name. The next day he asked someone else who'd been there who it was. ``Oh, didn't you know? That's Oppenheimer, the man who invented the atomic bomb.'' My friend was horrified because he thought he should have given the guy hell, attacked him, he didn't know what.

But the point was one moment this person is charming, then when you find out who he is, he's completely different. So I thought, Who's the worst person you could possibly meet in those circumstances? Hitler! And the story developed. A woman at a dance before the war and this guy comes up to her tossing a coin with this cocky chat-up line, Heads we're dancing. She doesn't recognise him until she sees his face in the paper later on and then she's devastated. She thinks that if she'd known she might have been able to *get* him and change the course of history. But he was a person who fooled a tremendous number of people and I don't think they can be blamed. It worries me a bit that this song could be received wrongly, though. (1989, Q)


What was the inspiration behind that? This, well, once again it's unusual - in sort of a pop context.

Yes, it's a very dark song, and it's certainly a song I don't think I'd write now. But I guess it was inspired a) by the idea of, I mean one of the fairy tale images for a little girl, is to go to a fantastic ball, like Cinderella does, and she meets this handsome, supposedly, prince. It was the reversal of the idea. He was like the worst person you could possibly meet. But that really sprung from a story that a friend of mine told me who had been at a dinner years ago, and had spent the evening sitting next to this incredibly charming man. Very intelligent, very witty, he just loved his company so much. The next day he asked the host ``Who was that man I was sitting next to. He was fascinating.'' They said, ``Didn't you realize, that was Oppenheimer.'' Now, my friend's reaction to that was absolute horror, because for him Oppenheimer represented such evil, because of his work with the bomb.


But in some ways I felt a little sorry for Oppenheimer, because i think he really paid for himself. He was - he committed suicide, he couldn't handle what he'd done. But the whole idea of the story was so fascinating for me, that he'd been so taken by this man until he knew who he was, and then it was like a complete reversal. I guess that hung around in my head and I was thinking, really, who's the closest embodiment to the devil, who is the most evil person ever, and I think -

Especially in modern times.

Yes, who else is there, really? But I would really hate anyone to be offended by the song. It's not meant to be a glorification of that whole event. It's just meant to be an exploration of the idea that evil quite often appears in a charming guise, and we should all be careful. He fooled so many people, and I don't think you can blame them for being fooled. But it's terrifying, isn't it?

It is rather frightening. (1989, KFNX)


It's the darkest track on the album and not the sort of song I'd write now. The devil's task is to tempt, and temptation has to be attractive. Hitler is the closest personification of evil, and I mention him not to glorify but to point out he was a man who fooled a tremendous number of intelligent people and there's no way you could blame anyone for being fooled by that man. (1989, Tracks)


I was thinking of the devil incarnate, the ultimate evil. It was inspired by a friend of mine who had been to this dinner and sat next to this guy and found him absolutely fascinating, intelligent and well-educated.

He asked the next day, ``Who was that?'' and was told it was (AT BOMB DEVELOPER) J. Robert Oppenheimer. My friend went back in horror. He said he would have behaved completely differently if he had realized who it was. (1989, AP)


Like Mick Karn's bass on ``HeadsWe'reDancing'' puts such a different feel to the song. I was really impressed with Mick - his energy. He's very distinctive - so many people admire him because he stays in that unorthodox area, he doesn't come into the commercial world - he just does his thing. (1989, International Musician)


Among the guest musicians featured on the sensual world was mick karn, former bassist from the group japan. Kate explains how she came to choose mick for ``headswe'redancing":

I met Mick years ago at a charity gig that we did in London [The prince's trust gala concert of 1981, during which kate performed ``the wedding list,'' with karn on bass], and I've always liked his style of playing.

It's very distinctive.

*Very* distinctive. He has such a strong personality, and I know he's very respected for his work by other musicians, which is always a good sign. But I felt, for some reason, that this track was just right for him. So he came along with a part that he'd worked out - I'd sent him a cassette. It was fabulous. He understood the whole story line. I hadn't sent any lyrics or anything, and he just kind of played this part. It was so right for the song. I was really knocked out. He's a very nice person as well as a great musician.

Would you consider working with him again?

I'd love to, but I find more and more with musicians, that there are certain tracks that call out for certain people. It's a bit like casting actors for a film, so this is how we approach things now.

Not necessarily would a film director cast the same people for every film, naturally.


It's similar, in the analogy. (1989, KFNX)


"HeadsWe'reDancing", it was all based around the Fairlight pattern that Del did, which is the basis of the whole song. The only thing I think we replaced was the snare. (1989, International Musician)


There's another song with kind of a wry twist to it and I've heard story about this one and that is ``headswe'redancing''

Oh yes.

What's the story ?

Well its a very dark story and I really think its not a song I would write now, but it was inspired by a friend of mine who had been with someone he found absolutely fascinating. And the next day he said to the host who was that person I was sitting next to last night and they said that it was Oppenheimer, the guy who'd been involved in creating the bomb. And my friend's react horror because he just really hated what this guy stood for. His feelings completely changed about the guy soon as he knew who he was. And I found that really interesting, that you could be with somebody fun and so charming but then find out at one point who they are, you know, its like a completely different story. So I was thinking of, you know, the fairy tale of little girls where they go to a ball and then they meet the charming mysterious stranger who turns out to be a prince. And I was thinking, really who is the worst person you can meet as a stranger, who is the embodiment of evil, you know the closest thing to the Devil. And of course really the only person that stands out there in modern history is Hitler and so its really saying that evil people can be so charming and its so easy to be fooled by people and it's saying that how often evil comes in a charming guise. So its really just exploring that and I would be very worried if people were offended by the song. I really had no intentions to offend anyone.

But then we might want to be careful about some of the very charming, smiling gladhands.

I think so. Yeah, watch out for the charmers, I reckon.

I think there are a lot of people watching out for you.

[Laughs] well they should!

Is there something lurking in kate bush's heart that we have to watch out for?

Oh, I think there is something lurking in everybody's heart. And there's good as well as bad, you know. Let's try and get the good out, aye? (1990, KDGE)


Gaffaweb / Cloudbusting / Music / Head'S We'Re Dancing