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
- 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
- And I really love distortions.
(1980, Never For Ever
- 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
- 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
- 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,
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--
- 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)
Cloudbusting / Music /
The Infant Kiss