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Date: Fri, 27 Sep 85 04:12:31 edt
From: harvard!jerpc.PE!topaz!jer (Eric Roskos @ Home)
Subject: Sat in Your Lap
Finally, unrelated to the above, but something interesting... I noticed tonight while listening to "Sat in Your Lap" that Kate Bush uses a musical device which Steve Howe also uses a lot, which I am very fond of. This involves having the music accompanying the voice part anticipate new themes that appear in the voice; specifically, just before "Give me the Karma Mama". She doesn't do this as beautifully as Howe (for a really amazing example, listen to "The Revealing Science of God" on Tales From Topographic Oceans, e.g., preceeding "Talk to the sunlight, caller; soft summer-mover, distance, mine."). I wonder if there is a name for this? Usually in songs the voice part makes the first statement of new themes that appear in the middle of the song, I think. (Though I could be wrong).
Date: Sat, 04 Oct 86 14:01 PDT
Subject: something sat in your lap
Welcome Carlo Samson, whose questions are all challenging and interesting:
> 4.) Why is knowledge "something sat in your lap"?
It's not, but "They say" that it is. The song is more or less about the character's impatience with the difficulty of absorbing knowledge. The expression "to be sat in (one's lap)" is part of English ideom, meaning "to be sitting in". The distinction is a subtle one created by the shift from the active to the passive mode.
Date: Wed, 14 Jan 87 22:58:51 EST
From: drukman%UMass.BITNET@WISCVM.WISC.EDU (Jonathan S. Drukman)
Subject: Sat In Your Lap
IED recently said something to the effect that "sat in your lap has more than you can comfortably absorb in three minutes" in opposition to a statement that ran something like "it was too short for three minutes..."
I would agree with the original poster - "Sat In Your Lap" could run for 15 minutes, with 10 of those merely the drum track and it still wouldn't be enough! Maybe IED can live with three minutes as the perfect length for covering the profound statement Kate is making, and I would agree that "Sat In Your Lap" as it is is a striking piece of music, but one of these days I'll get access to her master tapes and make a recording of ten minutes of those striking drums, which convey as much of a message in themselves as the rest of the tracks put together!
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 87 11:44 PST
Subject: rhythm section of "Sat In Your Lap"
To Jonathan Drukman:
It's very interesting that you suggest making a track of just the rhythm section of "Sat In Your Lap".
First of all, let IED just say that he didn't mean to imply that "Sat In Your Lap" -- or any other Kate Bush track, for that matter --wouldn't be magnificent in an extended form. In fact, IED has for several years been making extended home mixes of her records, and two of them are of "Sat In Your Lap". One was a forty-five minute loop, alternating between the LP and seven-inch mixes. The other, interestingly enough, incorporated the solo rhythm section of the record (about which you fantasize) taken off the "Looking Good, Feeling Fit" TV appearance by Kate (UK TV), in which she was shown dancing in a studio to the drum track (without the other music). Of course, the sound is absolutely terrible, but it still sounds amazing.
IED's only objection earlier was to the idea that Kate's original was FLAWED by being compressed into three minutes and some odd seconds' length. It may be more satisfying to some listeners to hear a longer version, but that's their affair, and has nothing to do with the success of the original.
Date: Tue, 12 Jul 88 23:05:17 EDT
From: jsd%UMASS.BITNET@MITVMA.MIT.EDU (Jonathan S. Drukman)
Subject: Sat in your Lap
All right, it's true, in between Colourbox fixes, I slapped on... (oh god, can I come out and say this in Public???) THE DREAMING!!! (Awk! Gag! It's the plumber - I've come to fix the sink....) Yes, I admit it. I was just curious to know, like, is it really the Greatest LP of All Time and I'm afraid the answer is a resounding YES!!! I think it was "get out of my house" in a darkened room played at mega volume that did it. Those guitars! Those donkey brays! The drum-talk! Kate's screaming her goddamm lungs out! And, hey, when I heard the title track, I didn't even THINK of "Hammerheads" by Danielle Dax! (Which all Love-Hounds must know uses the rhythm track from "The Dreaming" sped up).
Then I whipped out my sampler cartridge, took a snapshot of the beginning of "Sat In Your Lap", set some loop points and let the drums POUND POUND POUND until I just couldn't take it no more. The most intense five seconds in pop music history infinitely repeating IN MY BEDROOM! And by the way, after re-reading |>oug's interview with Kate concerning donkeys and feet representing sexual organs and all that, I must conclude that the big Mr. Moderator is totally correct about everything.
Date: Tue, 02 Aug 88 14:37 PDT
Subject: drums at the beginning
> Subject: drums
> Jon and I are having a bet: Are the drums at the beginning of sat in your lap sequenced or programmed or drum-machined (non-human) OR are they done by a real drummer?
It'll be hard to divvy up on the bet. In a way, you're both right. Since Kate said that the "demos" were more or less retained in all ten of the tracks on The Dreaming (though not so completely as on HoL ), it's safe to assume that at least a tiny bit of the original Roland sound still exists in the final mix (especially perhaps the single mix, which has an earlier date than the LP mix). But she says that she eventually "replaced" the rhythm-box with a real drum sound. Also, of course, we have to remember that Kate never explains the real details of her technical methods. IED doesn't think he's ever read or heard a complete and satisfying explanation by Kate of the recording process of any of her music to date. In the interests of accuracy, here is Kate's own commentary:
Sat In Your Lap
I already had the piano patterns, but they didn't turn into a song until the night after I'd been to see a Stevie Wonder gig. Inspired by the feeling of his music, I set a rhythm on the Roland and worked in the piano riff to the high-hat and snare. I now had a verse and a tune to go over it but only a few lyrics like
"I see the people working,"
"I want to be a lawyer," and
"I want to be a scholar,"
so the rest of the lyrics became "na-na-na" or words that happened to come into my head. I had some chords for the chorus with the idea of a vocal being ad-libbed later. The rhythm box and piano were put down, and then we recorded the backing vocals "Some say that knowledge is..." Next we put down the lead vocal in the verses and spent a few minutes getting some lines worked out before recording the chorus voice. I saw this vocal being sung from high on a hill on a windy day. The fool on the hill, the king of the castle... "I must admit, just when I think I'm king."
The idea of the demos was to try and put everything down as quickly as possible. Next came the brass. The CS80 is still my favourite synthesizer next to the Fairlight, and as it was all that was available at the time, I started to find a brass sound. In minutes I found a brass section starting to happen, and I worked out an arrangement. We put the brass down and we were ready to mix the demo.
I was never to get that CS80 brass to sound the same again--it's always the way. At The Townhouse the same approach was taken to record the master of the track. We put down a track of the rhythm box to be replaced by drums, recording the piano at the same time.
As I was producing, I would ask the engineer to put the piano sound on tape so I could refer to that for required changes.
This was the quickest of all the tracks to be completed, and was also one of the few songs to remain contained on one twenty-four track tape instead of two!
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 88 12:18:07 EDT
From: jsd%UMASS.BITNET@MITVMA.MIT.EDU (Jonathan S. Drukman)
Subject: SIYL drums
Regarding the SIYL drum track, the basic debate that Damian and I are having is: are the huge pounding drum sounds we hear produced by a real person really hitting huge drums with real sticks, or are they sampled sounds being played via the Fairlight? I'm fairly sure its the former. There may be vestigial traces of the Roland tinkle-bonk in there somewhere, but those are not the focus of our interest. Thanks for your comments, however. Jon Drukman
Date: Sun, 14 Jan 90 12:28:04 -0500
From: jsd@GAFFA.MIT.EDU (one two stupid three four dumb)
Subject: Re: Sat In Your Lap - revisited
This is one of my all time favorite KT songs, but I still don't profess to have any absolute definition for the lyrics. I think it's about bogus spirituality and the futility of attempting to achieve anything worthwhile without great personal effort/sacrifice. "I want to be a scholar, but I really can't be bothered." You see? The speaker desires something (knowledge) but won't work for it. Thus, "some say that knowledge is something sat in your lap." She hopes it will just come to her without any effort.
"I've been doing it for years, my goal is moving near
It says 'look i'm over here' then it up and disappears."
She keeps thinking she's close to the end of her quest, but she'll never get to the end because she can't make the effort. The deception is her fault.
"In my dome of ivory; a home of activity
I want the answers quickly, but I don't have no energy."
This should be pretty clear, if you subscribe to the rest of my theory. She won't exert herself, and thus will never get anywhere. Kate said that she wanted the song to sound like someone on top of a windy hill - the fool on the hill, shouting into the wind, feeling self-pity without good reason.
It's actually a kind of negative song, probably why I like it so much. Also, I can relate to the narrator - I want the answers quickly, but I don't have no energy!! (note the incorrect grammar - this is a brilliant stroke on Kate's part, showing the false learning which the narrator is stuck with... i'm in awe...)
From: Doug Alan <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 90 18:20:28 EST
Subject: Re: Sat In Your Lap - revisited
I think that Jon's comments on "Sat in Your Lap" are all good. I think that there is also a more metaphysical component to them.
Some say knowledge is something sat in your lap
Some say that knowledge is something that you never have
This refers, of course, to the millenia-old philosophical debate on just what knowledge is. Some philosophers think that you can't really know anything at all. Some philosophers think that every human is a well-spring of knowledge.
Just when I think I'm king, I must admit (I just begin)
Kate wants knowledge, and she works for it. She works to climb to the top of an intellectual mountain, but when she gets there, she finds that there's an even taller mountain behind it.
I've been doing it for years, my goal is moving near
It says "Look I'm over here" then it up and disappears
Kate works hard to achieve something and finally when she's learned enough to do it, she finally knows enough to see that this goal is not the one she really wanted. But to achieve what she really wants, she will have to start from the beginning again.
I hold a cup of wisdom, but there is nothing within.
When Kate was younger and more naive, she looked up to people with more knowledge than her -- thinking of them as wiser. Now that she's learned what they know, but she feels no wiser than before. All this knowledge has done her no good.
I think that it is this pattern of becoming disillusioned through gaining knowledge - of climbing mountains only to find even taller mountains - that has made the character in the song lazy:
I see the people working and see it working for them,
And so I want to join in, but then I find it hurts me.
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 90 10:46 PST
Subject: Sat In Your Lap
> What the heck is "Sat In Your Lap" about?
The song is about "the search for knowledge". Kate has also said it's about "really the lack of knowledge". And she has also said that it deals with laziness, the wish that one could acquire knowledge without going through the effort of learning. You're right, though, that she has never written about the song's meaning in any of her own published articles; all we know about the song comes from her comments in interviews. With one exception: she did say this about the line,
"Just when I think I'm King":
"I saw this vocal being sung from high on a hill on a windy day. The fool on the hill, the king of the castle...'I must admit, just when I think I'm king.'"
As to whether there is a specific, narrative context for Sat In Your Lap, IED doesn't believe there is. Kate has remarked on the difficulty she had coming up with suitable video imagery for the song, because SIYL didn't have an actual storyline. As a result, it didn't lend itself to the kind of linear, cinematic approach Kate obviously favours for videos. Instead, she just "threw together lots of images of knowledge, or the lack of knowledge," and decided to make the video "silly" and "just fun, really."
-- Andrew Marvick
"Ooh, the thrill and the hurting..."
From: Ulrich Grepel <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 95 22:03:38 +0100
Subject: what "sat in your lap" means
>> As an aside: could someone please explain what "sat in your lap" means? I suppose it's some kind of English saying.
> Don't know much about English sayings, but form teh context of the song, "Some say that knowledge is something that's sat in your lap / Some say that knowledge is something that you never have," I'd say that "Sat in Your Lap" is akin to the saying "Handed to you on a silver platter." In other words, something "Sat in Your Lap" is given to you without you having to expend any effort on it.
There's a German saying "in den Schoss gelegt" which is basically an exact word-by-word translation of "sat in your lap", and indeed it means you got it by heritage, instinct or any other method that doesn't need any efforts.
On to "There Goes A Tenner"
written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Sept 1995 June 1996