KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

The Fog

Featuring kate's dad, the good doctor bush, plus nigel kennedy and some wicked seagull imitations. It seems to be more about ponds and swimming pools than pea-soupers.

It's about trying to grow up. Growing up for most people is just trying to stop escaping, looking at things inside yourself rather than outside. But I'm not sure if people ever grow up properly. It's a continual process, growing in a positive sense. (1989, NME)


This song, ``the fog'' on here, featuring your father as himself...

[Laughs] ...my first feature film. [Laughs]

A family affair, this album. Tell me about that song. I haven't quite go the hang of it, it's something to do with childhood, it's something to do with childhood memories and growing up and having to stand on your own two feet. I think so anyway, but can you tell me what you were thinking?

Yes, well that's jolly good.

Totally wrong, but...

No, it's not. Again, it's quite a complex song, where it's very watery. It's meant to be the idea of a big expanse of water, and being in a relationship now and flashing back to being a child being taught how to swim, and using these two situations as the idea of learning to let go. When I was a child, my father used to take me out into the water, and he'd hold me by my hands and then let go and say ``OK, now come on, you swim to me.'' As he'd say this, he'd be walking backwards so the gap would be getting bigger and bigger, and then I'd go [Splutters]. I thought that was such an interesting situation where you're scared because you think you're going to drown, but you know you won't because your father won't let you drown, and the same for him, he's kind of letting go, he's letting the child be alone in this situation. Everyone's learning and hopefully growing and the idea that the relationship is to be in this again, back there swimming and being taught to swim, but not by your father but by your partner, and the idea that it's OK because you are grown up now so you don't have to be frightened, because all you have to do is put your feet down and the bottom's there, the water isn't so deep that you'll drown. You put your feet down, you can stand up and it's only waist height. Look! What's the problem, what are you worried about? (1989, Roger Scott)


Again, I think it's such a human condition, where we actually, a lot of the time, have such fear of things actually there's no need to be frightened of at all. It's all in our heads, this big kind of trap - you know, that actually it's not always as terrifying as we think. Again, you know, it's meant to be saying ``OK, so it can be rough but there must be a way out - it's all right!'' [Laughs] (1989, Roger Scott)


"The fog" (lyrics of trust?)

Trust? That's nice. It's paralleling being in a relationship with learning to swim. You're too scared to put your feet down but if you did you'd find the water is only waist high and you needn't have been frightened at all. (1989, Tracks)


"The fog'' is a brave song. It co-stars kate's dad on spoken vocals intoning with fatherly/doctorly reassurance, ``just put your feet down child/'cos you're all grown-up now''

I started with the idea of a relationship in deep water and thought I could parallel that with learning to swim, the moment of letting go,'' she says. ``When my dad was teaching me to swim he'd hold both my hands, then say, ``Now, let go.'' So I would. Then he'd take two paces back and say, ``Right, swim to me,'' and I'd be, ``Oo-er, blub, blub, blerb...'' But I thought it was such a beautiful image of the father and child, all wrapped up in the idea of really loving someone, but letting them go, because that's a part of real love, don't you think, the letting go?

So it's personal about kate and her father then. It sounds as though it might be personal about her and del too.

Yes, it does, doesn't it? SHE LAUGHS, REALLY AMUSED BY HER PROFESSIONALLY EVASIVE REPLY. Have you ever watched Woody Allen being interviewed? Obviously his films are very personal, and when the interviewer asks him the ``Has this happened to you, then?'' question, he's all... SHE COWERS BACK INTO HER CHAIR, CROSSES AND UNCROSSES HER LEG THRASHES, ABOUT LIKE A SPEARED FISH. Then he'll say, ``Oh, well, no, I'm just acting out a role.'' It's ironic, but it's much easier to speak about very personal things to lots of people through a song, a poem or a film than it is to confront the world with them through someone asking questions. Maybe you worry because it's going to be indirectly reported. (1989, Q)


Another song from the sensual world, ``the fog", appears to be on the surface the story of a father teaching his child to swim. Yet there's much more to it than that.

Yeah, it's very much using the parallel of the father teaching the child to swim, with a relationship where - well, when I was taught to swim, my father would take me out into the water and then he'd say, you know, ``Swim to me,'' and you had to sort of let go of his hands and he'd keep stepping away so it was always like you kept going. And the whole process of kind of letting go that I think we have to do throughout life. I think, really, the older I get the more I feel this is what so much of life is about. It's just letting go of all these things that you get caught up in. The idea in the song that things that you're frightened of, quite often, it's the thought of it that's more frightening than the action. It's the idea of the water seeming so deep that you're going to drown if you put your feet down, but actually, if you do put your feet down, the bottom's really close and you can stand up and it will probably only come up to your waist. Everything's all right, you know.

That song also features dialogue by your father, dr. Bush.

That's right.

That was just sort of a natural thing, or did you hear that when you were first composing the song?

I love using bits of dialogue in music as well. We haven't done too much of that on this album, but I have used my parents and my family and friends before to speak various passages. Obviously in this song, because it was within the context of a father teaching a child to swim, I thought it was - who else could have done it? Who else?


It had to be him. (1989, KFNX)


I wonder if ``the fog'' off the sensual world - was that originally written for the ninth wave? Because I feel there is a similarity between that and the ninth wave.

Yes, I think you're very right. It does sound like a song that's come from that side. It wasn't written as part of The Ninth Wave, but it was probably one of the first songs that I wrote for The Sensual World album. And it's when you hit moments like that that you think, ``Well, I haven't quite found where this next album is meant to be.'' Because I - I worry if it's sounding like the last album. In a way there's a natural sense for you to want to just carry on writing in the same style of writing that you did before. And uh, I really feel each album should be somehow a new expression of something. But yes, I thought that, too.

I don't think it sounds anything like the ninth wave, it's just theme of the girl trying to swim...

It is, it's a lot of water imagery again. Uh, I felt that, when I was writing it, that it was...And I think in some ways I haven't really let go of The Ninth Wave. Maybe this is it. The song is about letting go, so...

Maybe that will continue on through your career and eventually there will be songs that will...it will become a bigger concept, maybe?

Oh, that's a nice idea, isn't it? (1990 Kate Bush Con)

I've been a big fan of Alan's music for quite a while and I thought how nice it would be to get him to come in and play some harp and about two days later this letter turned up out of the blue ... and I'd never met the guy or spoken to him or anything, and it was a letter from Alan saying that he'd really like to work with me and he didn't know if I'd heard his music but ... and it's like, you know, within a space of two days we'd suddenly come into the air ... and so that is how we met and worked together. (1989, Rapido)


That started at the Fairlight. We got these big chords of strings, and put this line over the top, and then I got this idea of these words - slipping into the fog. I thought wouldn't it be interesting to sort of really visualize that in a piece of music, with all these strings coming in that would actually be the fog. So I wrote a bit of music that went on the front of what I'd done, and extended it backwards with this bit on the front that was very simple and straightforward, but then went into the big orchestral bit, to get the sense of fog coming in.

Then we put a drummer on, and Nigel Kennedy, the violinist, came in and replaced the Fairlight violin, which changed the nature of it. He's great to work with - such a great musician. The times we work together we sort of write together. I'll say something like, ``what about doing something a bit like Vaughan Williams?", and he'll know the whole repertoire, and he'll pick something, and maybe I'll change something. By doing that we came up with this different musical section that hadn't been on the Fairlight.

So when I got all this down it seemed to make sense story-wise. This new section became like a flashback area. And then I got the lyrics together about slipping into the fog, and relationships, trying to let go of people.

It sounded great with the Fairlight holding it together, but it just didn't have the sense of dimension I wanted. So we got hold of Michael Kamen, who orchestrated some of the last album, and we said we wanted this bit here with waves and flashbacks. He's really into this because he's always writing music for films, and he loves the idea of visual imagery. So we put his orchestra in on top of the Fairlight.

Again a very complicated process, and he was actually the last thing to go on. I don't know how anything comes out as one song, because sometimes it's such a bizarre process. It does seem to work together somehow. (1989, International Musician)



Cloudbusting / Music / The Fog