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Date: 9 Oct 85 17:52:47 CDT (Wed)
Subject: Backward vocals
> On "The Dreaming" there is a two-way message that is sung at the end of "Leave It Open". When you play it forwards it sings "We let the weirdness in". And when you play it backwards it sings "And they said they would not let me in"!
I've tried this several times, and I can't hear the word "not". All I can hear is "They said they would let me in". As to how they did it, I'm not an expert in the field, but I have what I think is a pretty good guess. It's drowned out by the music in the part where the music is still going, but in the part at the very end, I can hear something in the background, and although the voice is intelligible, it still sounds weird. This makes me think that they've recorded the two messages separately in normal, forward voices, then reversed one of them, then combined the two signals together. I'm not familiar with the Fairlight, but I wouldn't be surprised if such things were not too difficult to do on it. They probably tried different relative speeds and offsets until they got something that produced the desired effect. When we play the record in one direction or the other, we're actually hearing both messages at the same time, one forward and the other backwards. Because we tend to notice intelligible speech more than unintelligible speech, we hear mostly the forward message. One of the scientists I work with has done some research in the field of speech intelligibility, so if I get a chance I'll talk to him about it and I'll forward his comments to this mailing list.
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 87 17:39 PST
Subject: Backwards vocals
Yes, it has been discussed in L-Hs before, but since no-one has come up with the solution to the latest problem yet, an excessively boring and long-winded re-capitulation doesn't seem out of order, especially since most people just scroll past IED's longer entries anyway!
There have only been two so-called "backwards tracks" in Kate's music to date, as far as anyone knows so far.
The first appears in The Dreaming, specifically in the last minute of "Leave It Open". The Kate Bush Club made a competition out of the passage, offering a prize to the first member to come up with the correct message that Kate sings in the fade-out of the song. Nobody came up with the correct solution for several issues, which is to say for more than a year.
The first problem was that the vocal track SOUNDED exactly like a backwards-masked track, but WASN'T one, strictly speaking. The second problem was that there was also an instrumental sound underneath Kate's fade-out chorus which WAS being played backwards.
In fact, the mystery message was more complicated than a simple backwards-masked track, such as the mystery tracks on the Beatles' "Revolution #9", for example. In most (if not all) earlier cases of backwards-masking, the artist simply recorded a message (or played some music) normally, then added that recording to the mix by playing the tape backwards. The Beatles did a lot of backwards-masked music on Revolver, and the difficulty was in coming up with a piece of guitar-playing (for example) that actually fit in with the chord-structure of the song when it was played back backwards in synch with the forwards tracks.
George Harrison apparently played many slightly different solos on the Revolver tracks, until one of them happened to sound good when played backwards with the songs. The task wasn't really very difficult for the Beatles, since part of their intention was to add a lot of surreality and confusion to the recording, and a little imprecision of chords and notes was seen as a plus for the music, not a mistake.
For Kate, however, nothing that haphazard has ever been acceptable -- especially on an album track. Therefore, for the fade-out of "Leave It Open", she first composed the exact musical (melodic) line that she wanted people to hear when they simply played the record straight. Then she set that phrase to the words, "We let the weirdness in." Next, she recorded that melodic line, and listened to the weird phonetic sounds that came out when the passage was played backwards. She then proceeded to imitate those sounds as precisely as possible, following not only the phonetics that the backwards playback produced, but also the new, inverted melody that resulted. Once she had learned this new passage perfectly, she then performed it as though it were a normal chorus; synched that version up with the master tape; and let it play BACKWARDS with the fade-out.
The result was a message that was note for note the same as the musical passage she had originally intended, but with sounds altered just enough so that it SOUNDED like backwards gibberish, but wasn't. During the year before someone (a Dutch fan) finally solved the puzzle, a large number of suggestions came in with answers more or less similar to the line, "They said they were buried here;" that line obtained by people playing (BACKWARDS) Kate's weirdly distorted FORWARDS vocal of "We let the weirdness in." At the 1985 Kate Bush Convention in England, Paddy Bush gave a little demonstration of just how Kate went about making the track. But he didn't actually say that she had used the same method on Hounds of Love...
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 87 02:27:47 EST
From: Joe Turner <cutter%umb.umb.edu@RELAY.CS.NET>
Subject: We let the weirdness in
IED, I had occasion to pick up my handy-dandy four-track and try out the "We let the weirdness in" bit. I tried it by saying "We let the weirdness in" on one track, and "And they said they wouldn't let me in" on another track (backwards). It sounded correct. Sickeningly easy to do, too. Kate had a great idea, but let's not go overboard on congratulating her on it!
Off to play "Watching You Without Me" backwards...
Date: Thu, 19 Mar 87 16:13 PST
Subject: Backwards tracks
It's great to hear from someone who's actually listening, for a change!
I think you're right that it sounds like forwards words when played backwards -- certainly the "We see you here" part is straightforward backwards recording. But then, as you say, if it's that simple, then where is the "Don't"??? I've had very long phone discussions with a fan in Missouri about this problem, and he thinks it's got to be mixed up -- spliced in the middle or something.
Anyway, I greatly appreciate your offer to send me a tape of the track. Could you send me your mailing address? I'll get a blank cassette and a SASE off to you right away if you would. Thanks very very much. Maybe it'll really help. Maybe you could put your "W. Heights" cover on it, too.
Could you please explain in more detail what you meant about your having done the backwards track from "Leave It Open" yourself and its having "sounded right"? Of course, I know these messages of hers are not a sign of greatness in themselves. It's just the aesthetic -- the IDEA of the thing -- that gets me: adding mystery, depth and secret, hidden riddles to the music.
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 87 11:17 PST
Thanks to Joe and Jon for their fascinating ideas re interpreting backwards tracks/lyrics to KT. This is what the essence of L-Hs is all about!
> IED, I had occasion to pick up my handy-dandy four-track and try out the "We let the weirdness in" bit.. I tried it by saying "We let the weirdness in" on one track, and "And they said they wouldn't let me in" on another track (backwards). It sounded correct. Sickeningly easy to do, too. Kate had a great idea, but let's not go overboard on congratulating her on it!
This introduces a highly controversial new variable into what had formerly been considered a settled issue. The Kate Bush Club long ago dropped the "Leave It Open" message competition, after a fan figured out that it was simply "We let the weirdness in", sung forwards, but with a weird cadence and pronunciation that made it SEEM as though it might be a backwards message. Since then (at least two years now) nobody has done much to explain how it is that the message also seems to say something when it actually IS played backwards.
Joe has said that it must be a palindrome, but of course not in the usual sense of the word (i.e. where the letters spell out the same word whether read from left to right or from right to left). Instead, this would have to be a phrase which actually makes phonetic, grammatical AND thematic sense, whether heard backwards OR forwards. Since the chances of one coming up with such a phrase intentionally or even unintentionally must be astronomical, IED has always assumed that the similarity of the message (in its backwards form) to phrases like "They said they were buried here" (or, as Joe has it, "And they said they wouldn't let me in") was only approximate, and was entirely fortuitous.
But, since Joe is pretty certain that his interpretation is correct, what we need here are some third opinions. |>oug, you must have an idea about whether there's a true backwards message or not in "Leave it Open", especially since it is God and the Universe and everything to you. Can you help? Anyone else out there care to give it a try?
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Tue, 07 Apr 87 16:17 PDT
After further consideration and discussion, IED has to reject Phil's (?) theory that there is something deliberately being said in the "Leave It Open" mystery track when played backwards. It just isn't so. The sounds are a lot like: "Nthey send they wuht vewy heee-uhw.." but they are not precise English words. All you have to do is imitate the phonetics yourself, record your voice, and play it backwards, and you'll hear "We let the weirdness in." That's all it is. The new mystery track, however, is definitely something much cleverer.
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 87 00:51 PDT
Subject: security system
About your interpretation of the lines from "All the Love" and "Leave it Open": Where did you read Kate's comments about having a security system installed in her home? IED has never seen that interview, and would like to catch up. You're probably right about that particular connection, but in general IED's feeling is that it's a mistake to look at Kate's songs as directly autobiographical. Unless your interpretation and examples were written for the WSI?
[I don't know if I've ever heard of Kate talking about the security system at her ex-flat in London, but I have read an interview that took place there and the interviewer talked about the security system. Also Peter Morris of *Homeground* told me that Kate had the security system installed because of John Lennon's murder. I don't know what his source was.
I have heard a radio interview with Kate that took place at the end of 1980 and she said that she was very glad the year was over because it had been an awful year and that she had been very depressed about John Lennon's murder. Seen in this light, it isn't too hard to see that the the line, "Now when they ring, I get my machine to let them in," definitely refers to Kate's own security system, and that the line, "My door was never locked/ Until one day a trigger come -- cocking," almost certainly is an allusion to the effect that John Lennon's murder had on Kate. -- |>oug]
Date: Wed, 19 Apr 89 12:40 PDT
Subject: backwards speech
> A while ago, when IED re-posted |>oug's interview with Kate, he said that the backwards speech at the end of leave it open is NOT "And they said they wouldn't let me in". Well, what is it!?!? That's what it sounds like to me as well.
This subject is still not completely resolved, but the main point is that the "backwards speech" isn't backwards at all. The message is forwards, and says "We let the weirdness in". Therefore your hearing of the words as they sound when heard backwards ("And they said they wouldn't let me in") is no better or worse than the version that the majority of listeners hear: "They said they were buried here." Both versions are simply our own ascription of meaning to the arbitrary sounds that the phrase "We let the weirdness in" makes when played backwards. (Or are they?? No one really knows this for certain.)
Of course, this phrase is obscured still further, in two ways: first, Kate didn't just say "We let the weirdness in" and then record it backwards. Rather, she devised a melodic line first for the sentence (beginning with the musical inspiration, apparently), sang "We let the weirdness in" to that melody, then listened to that bit backwards, learned the weird sounds and new, backwards melody that she heard when playing her original phrase backwards, and then re -recorded the new, weird "backwards" music. Finally, she turned that version around, arriving back where she had started, only with all the sounds very strangely altered, and placed that version into the forwards mix. Also, she overdubbed the vocal line several times, and added some odd effects.
The other problem is that there are also some very definite sounds--not the main vocal, but other sounds--in the forwards mix which sound backwards. These sounds increase the sense of confusion about which way is backwards and which is forwards.
Is it possible that Kate deliberately, painstakingly devised the sentence "We let the weirdness in" because it seemed to say "They said they were buried here" when heard backwards? IED thinks that's highly unlikely, but who knows. The only "official" explanations have been the confirmation (by Paddy, who briefly and amusingly demonstrated the technique at the 1985 convention) that Kate listened to the back-wards sounds, learned their odd sounds, and then recorded them over again forwards; and Kate's simple admission that the secret message is simply "We let the weirdness in", and not "They said they were buried here" (and its many related forms). This whole business was, as has been said in Love-Hounds before, the focus of a very long-running Club competition, during which many suggestions for the "They said..." phrase were submitted, and clues about "weirdness" sprinkled throughout the articles by Paddy, Del and Kate.
Date: Tue, 1 Jun 93 04:09 CDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (chris williams)
Subject: Re: Kate questions
Bob Kovitz writes: I just listened to the box set from start to finish, and came up with a group of questions:
>12. Any guesses as to what Kate is saying at 1:40 in "Leave it Open"?
Do you mean "Harm in us but power to arm" or the "He-augh's" or "We let the weirdness in"?
From: Jon Drukman <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 1995 14:58:59 -0800 (PST)
Subject: End of "Leave it Open"
the actual explanation has been advanced many times. here it is again...
the intended text is "we let the weirdness in." that's what you hear when the song plays normally. now, it sounds completely tweaked out because kate listened to that line played backwards, and then attempted to sing the backwards sounds she heard. of course it is totally impossible for the human mouth to produce the exact same sounds, so when you take this approximation and run THAT backwards, you get the forwards message "we let the weirdness in", only it sounds really odd.
try it yourself. listen to "we let the weirdness in" backwards and sing what you're hearing into your computer. now play that piece of audio in reverse. you're suddenly saying "we let the weirdness in" only it doesn't sound quite right.
completely awesome technique.
On to "The Dreaming" (song)
written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Sept 1995 June 1996