KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

The Big Sky

The next song is called ``The Big Sky.'' Someone sitting looking at the sky, watching the clouds change. I used to do this a lot as a child, just watching the clouds go into different shapes. I think we forget these pleasures as adults. We don't get as much time to enjoy those kinds of things, or think about them; we feel silly about what we used to do naturally. The song is also suggesting the coming of the next flood - how perhaps the ``fools on the hills'' will be the wise ones. (1985, KBC 18)


"Big Sky'' was a song that changed a lot between the first version of it on the demo and the end product on the master tapes. As I mentioned in the earlier magazine, the demos are the masters, in that we now work straight in the 24-track studio when I'm writing the songs; but the structure of this song changed quite a lot. I wanted to steam along, and with the help of musicians such as Alan Murphy on guitar and Youth on bass, we accomplished quite a rock-and-roll feel for the track. Although this song did undergo two different drafts and the aforementioned players changed their arrangements dramatically, this is unusual in the case of most of the songs. (1985, KBC 18)


*"Big sky'' was very difficult to write. I knew what I wanted to finish up with, but I didn't seem to be able to get there! We had three different versions and eventually it just kind of turned into what it did, thank goodness. (1991, Classic Albums)


*That was really about... you know the thing of when - I used to do it a lot when I was a kid, we'd go out somewhere and sit up and look at the sky. And if you watch the clouds long enough, they take on different shapes, you can see dinosaurs in them, or castles. And at the time I was writing this album, we were living in the country and my keyboards and stuff were in this room overlooking a valley and I'd sit and watch the clouds rolling up the hill towards me. And there is a lot of weather on this album. The countryside was a big inspiration at this time, and it's always changing, it's a very different perspective from living in the city, sometimes you hardly see the sky above the buildings at all. (1991, Classic Albums)


Here again with the new album there are some songs that are fairly simple. [Silence.] do you know what I mean?


In their construction.


And there are other songs that are very complex, as well. Can you for example just tell me about ``the big sky'' - that particular song... Can you explain that for me?

Yes! ``The Big Sky'' gave me terrible trouble, really, just as a song. I mean, you definitely do have relationships with some songs, and we had a lot of trouble getting on together and it was just one of those songs that kept changing - at one point every week - and, um...It was just a matter of trying to pin it down. Because it's not often that I've written a song like that: when you come up with something that can literally take you to so many different tangents, so many different forms of the same song, that you just end up not knowing where you are with it. And, um...I just had to pin it down eventually, and that was a very strange beast.

A strange beast...and you were happy with the final outcome?

Yes, and it was very different from the original song that was written.

In what way?

In nearly every way possible.

A complete change of song?

Yes, and that's very rare as well, but it was just one of those songs. Maybe it's all to do with what the song is about, the fact that it's changing all the time - the sky, always...changing! (1985, Homeground)


Del: It was like that, too, with ``the big sky'' on the new album. That song changed about three times. Originally it was radically different from the way it's found on the album, the melody-line, the interpretation, everything. But kate scrapped it and then rewrote it, retaining only a few elements of the original song.

Did you get in the guy youth on that track because he's highly thought of as a rock roll bassist?

Yeah, absolutely, the energy was right for the track, he used to play with Killing Joke.

Del: Also he'd played on the original version and we thought it'd be good, karmically, to have him play on the later one too. And he plays that particular style that's just perfect for that kind of track. That was very much a case of getting the right person for the right thing on the right track. Horses for courses... (1985, Musician)


So what was the most difficult song on the album to get done, you think?

I think...[Long pause]... ``The Big Sky.'' That's the only one from a songwriting point of view actually caused the problems. With all of the others it was just a matter of patience and finding the right things; they were all keyed quite instantly. (1985, Homeground)


It [Making a video] is very like making early albums: I feel a bit disappointed with the results, not having enough rehearsal, a big enough budget, etc., etc., but the shoots were so much fun. It's such a good feeling to work with a big group of people. I seem to like working with such a crowds. On both ``Hounds of Love'' and ``The Big Sky'' shoots there was a relaxed air - both shoots involved crowd scenes, and was especially satisfying. Besides a large number of performers to fill a stage and give the effect of a live concert, we needed an avenue of people, from the Wright brothers to two astronauts, to simulate aviation history. The Wright brothers looked remarkably like Dave Cross and Peter FitzGerald-Morris, and one of the astronauts looked so like Jay...We also needed a large, enthusiastic crowd, so we asked Dave Cross to organise some members of the Club, and two hundred beautifully behaved people arrived on the day of the shoot. It was very moving, they filled us all up with energy - It made it feel like a real concert.

All the film crew remarked on how incredible everyone was. They had been terrified with past experiences of invited audiences, but I told them they hadn't met the right ones. Everyone left just as beautifully - nearly everyone with a burnt thumb from being a star in the sky holding up lighters and waving. I'd never been in the same room with so many stars before.

Did it take long to edit those clips?

No, I worked with John Mister as film editor. On both those shoots we worked to very detailed storyboards, and in both cases could give John a photostat of the script beforehand so he'd know the gist of what we were working on. Then he'd do a rough cut by himself, following the storyboard. Then we'd work together until we were happy. He was great to work with, and both edits were very quick: just taking them into the video suite for bits and pieces. But it would have to be transferred to video for T.V. showings, anyway, so all ads [Sic - does she mean 'adds' here, as in 'additions'?], etc., end up on video.

"The Big Sky'' was a little more complicated. The beginning part on the rooftops involves chromakey, where all the live action goes on in front of a blue screen and then the various weather effects were put in at the edit. The pieces of film with the weather were chosen beforehand and transferred to video; they then replaced the blue screen. (1986, KBC 20)


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