KT Cloudbusting -- Kate Bush In Her Own Words

The Infant Kiss


"The infant kiss'' is about a governess. She is torn between the love of an adult man and a child, who are within the same body. (1980, KBC 7)


There are other areas where you have specifically taken a taboo as a theme - for example, ``the infant kiss''

Yes, that was fascinating. It was based on the film, The Innocents. I saw it years ago, when I was very young, and it scared me, and when films scare you as a kid, I think they really hang there. It's a beautiful film, quite extraordinary. This governess is supposed to look after these children, a little boy and a girl, and they are actually possessed by the spirits of the people who were in the house before. And they keep appearing to the children. It's really scary - as scary on some levels as the idea of The Exorcist, and that terrified me. The idea of this young girl, speaking and behaving like she did was very disturbing, very distorted. But I quite like that song.

But there are those who would say it was totally perverse.

I suppose they would. And actually, I don't think I could find a younger man attractive, let alone a boy. But the whole idea of looking at a little innocent boy and that distortion - I mean, it's absolutely terrifying, isn't it? I thought it was ingenious, great, so weird and unnatural.

But the thing is, looking at it objectively, that's a song about paedophilia. The strange thing is that, written by a woman, that seems acceptable.

It's very different from a woman's point of view, and I think that's also what's so interesting about it.

But did it occur to you that if that song had been written and sung by a man, there might have been a really huge outcry?

That's something I never thought about, but I suppose you're right. But a man _didn't_ write it. I don't know, it's a bit hard to understand, but it was the fascination of a very soft, gentle woman who wouldn't consider herself perverse at all - in fact, she _wasn't,_ that's the thing. She thought she was being a paediathingy - but in fact she wasn't, she was truly picking up a real man's energy and not a kid's, because the child was possessed. It's very different if it involves a man and a little girl - the man is so powerful to start with.

I was thinking of it on a political level say how would feminists react, if i wrote that song?...

Yes, if you wrote that song, automatically it would have some weird and dangerous connotations. Because you don't normally think - and this is very heavy, this - when there are attractions to children from adults, you normally do think of it as men to girls. It's just more spoken of. And I think you're into very negative, dangerous areas that would make it something very unpleasant... (1985, Hot Press)


*I don't know if anyone's seen a film called The Innocents, it initially inspired it. It's an old British film, a very haunting film about a governess who goes to stay and look after two children, a young boy and a young girl. And unknown to her, they're both possessed by the spirits that lived in the before, the gardener and a maid. And particulary the boy is in a very, very heavy possession state, he has a.. like a thirty two year old man inside him as a spirit. And the governess will go to give him a little goodnight and he suddenly gives her a very big passionate kiss. And the song is about the woman being incredibly torn, she doesn't what's happening because there's this really sweet little boy that she loves maternally and yet through his eyes there's coming this really wicked, lusty man. And so she can't work out what's happening, she thinks she's going mad when in fact there is this terribly evil force in such a young child that could never have this experience through his own age. And so she's just freaking out saying ``my God, what's happening."


And it was a distortion that I myself would find terribly disturbing...

And me..

And I really love distortions. (1980, Never For Ever Debut)


The thing that worries me is the way people have started interpreting that song. They love the long word - paedophilia. It's not about that at all. It's not the woman actually fancying the young kid. It's the woman being attracted by a man inside the child. It just worries me that there were some people catching on to the idea of there being paedophilia, rather than just a distortion of a situation where there's a perfectly normal, innocent boy with the spirit of a man inside, who's extremely experienced and lusty. The woman can't cope with the distortion. She can see that there's some energy in the child that is not normal, but she can't place it. Yet she has a very pure maternal love for the child, and it's only little things like when she goes to give him a kiss at night, that she realizes there is a distortion, and it's really freaking her out. She doesn't fancy little boys, she's got a normal, straight sexual life, yet this thing is happening to her. I really like the distortedness of the situation.

Nice touch having such a gentle, unlusty backing to put this over in...

I like the idea of making the musical and subject matter at odds. Like in ``Army Dreamers'' the obvious thing is to write a slow, heavy song, but if you do that it always becomes too obvious, less easy for people to accept. When it is something so heavy, if you disguise it in a light tune or something happy, it will be accepted, and then when it's actually realised it will probably hit home a lot harder. (1980, Zigzag)


Some people might think it's a song about...what's the word when older women fancy little boys? Paedophilia? Well, it's not actually that, and it would worry me if people mixed it up with that because that's exactly what worries her so much. I find that distortion very fascinating and quite sad. And frightening. The thought of someone old and evil being inside a young and pure shell, it's freaky. (1980, Oct 10, Melody Maker)


Playing at the amateur psychiatrist, I contemplate whether she writes songs from fiction out of fear about exposing too much of herself.

Whenever I base something on a book or a film I don't take a direct copy. I don't steal it. I'll put it through my personal experiences, and in some cases it becomes a very strange mixture of complete fiction and very, very personal fears within me.

""The infant kiss'' had to be done on a very intimate basis, it [Had to???] be a woman singing about her own fear, because it makes her so much more vulnerable. If it had just been an observation, saying ``she's really frightened; She's worried,'' you could never really tell what she was feeling. So I put it as coming through myself.

I'm not actually thinking of myself falling in love with the little boy, I was putting myself in her place. Feeling what I do for children - I love children - and then suddenly seeing something in their eyes you don't want to see.

It's like when a tiny kid turns round and says to you ``You're a bastard'' or ``Fuck off": it's instinctive to feel repulsed by it... that experience into a different situation. Otherwise I'd be writing and singing about situations I've never experienced, and in order to be convincing you have to have a certain amount of knowledge and conviction. It's a strange mixture, I know, but I rarely write purely personal songs from experience. (1980, Oct 10, Melody Maker)


O.k., let's go on now to another song which sounds either traditional or child-oriented, because it's called ``oh willow maley."

Well this track, this is really a novelty thing for me. There was a film called The Innocents, which I based a song on, on the new album--

Which one?

Um, it's called ``The Infant Kiss.'' But it's a remarkable film, very spooky. It's a Fifties English film, black-and-white, and it's about the possession of two children who this governess goes to stay with. And the whole film is very strange. She keeps seeing things, hearing things. And she can't really work out if she's going mad or whether there is something very strange happening. And although this is never actually sung in the film, the theme music is from the film and it's sung by a lady called Ida Cameron. And she's got a beautiful voice, she sounds just like a little girl, and it's very haunting.

Let's hear it then, or at least part of it.

[An excerpt of this recording is played.]

From the film the innocents, ``oh willow waley.'' and as you say, it's the one that inspired you to write ``the infant kiss.'' very good, solid concept there about the possibilities of arousal and fear coming from the kiss from an infant.

Yes. And I do think her voice is extraordinary. (1980, BBC)


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