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"If both sides of the album were as good as the B side, I wouldn't be writing this article now, though, because I would have suffered from immediate massive coronary failure...."
Kate: [re The Morning Fog] "... in my mind this was the song where they were rescued, where they get pulled out of the water."
(Radio 1 Classic Albums interview HoL, 26/1/92) [she revealed this 1992!]
[ordered by date]
Date: Mon, 2 Dec 85 17:53:33 EST
From: hsut@purdue-ecn.ARPA (Tsun-Yuk Hsu)
Really-from: Bill Hsu
Someone (Sue?) brought up a reviewer's comment about Kate Bush "playing Ophelia to her own Hamlet". The remark is not completely inappropriate, but it seems a typical line from people who feel that Kate's music is too "artsy" or pretentious (of course the same complaint can be made about the reviewer who made the original remark :-) ).
In Hamlet, Ophelia drowned herself after being ignored by Hamlet and getting the news that Hamlet had killed Ophelia's father (by mistake). I guess you could make the connection to Kate's songs about unrequited love (All the Love, etc) and emotionally abused women (The Kick Inside, Get Out of My House). And of course the Ninth Wave was about drowning. The reviewer probably has the stereotyped view of Kate Bush being an over-romantic songstress trying to write art music rather than the multi-faceted and complex talent she is.
Of course I don't mind Kate's occasional pretensions. Heck, it's fun being pretentious...! :-)
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 87 15:57:17 EST
Subject: a Ninth Wave and Ulysses
Stop me if someone has said this before, but in James Joyce's Ulysses, in Chapter 3 (Proteus), the following sentences appear (we are in the mind of Stephen Dedalus, who is watching a dog on the beach south of Dublin):
`At the lacefringe of the tide he halted with stiff forehoofs, seawardpointed ears. His snout lifted barked at the wavenoise, herds of seamorse. They serpented towards his feet, curling, unfurling many crests, every ninth, breakingaa, plashing, from far, from farther out, waves and waves.'
Don Gifford, in his excellent Notes for Joyce, provides the following gloss:
` every ninth -- i.e., wave, after the belief that every ninth wave is larger than the other waves of a sequence.'
Kate had obviously heard this piece of (Irish?) folklore, but might she also have had this particular passage in mind? Does anyone know of any other Joycean references in Kate's work?
[There is a definite Joycean reference in the lyrics to Kate's song "My Lagan Love". It is based on a story by James Joyce. Kate didn't write the lyrics to the song, however. Her brother John did. Kate says that she got the title to *The Ninth Wave* by looking through a quote dictionary for something appropriate and found the quoted passage by Tennyson. I don't know whether she knew of the Joyce's passage. -- |>oug ]
Date: Tue, 12 Jan 88 01:05 PST
Though many of you may already have taken notice of the following on your own, IED has been so taken with these ideas that he felt he just had to mention them anyway.
The whole conceit of the heroine drifting in water refers to far more than just the explicit, immediate context of The Ninth Wave. In fact, the implicit references are so deliberate that they may arguably be more important than the explicit subject-matter. Actually, at least three earlier such subjects loom in the collective English consciousness. All of them have important positions in British cultural history.
Of these the best known outside England is the story of Ophelia in Hamlet. The allusion to Ophelia's insane self-immersion is plain to see in the photo for The Ninth Wave: the flowers. These were explained away almost flippantly by (if IED remembers correctly -- Doug, will you confirm or deny, since you were there too?) John Carder Bush as being intended to show the chaos and damage on board the ship during its sinking (or whatever ultimately forced the heroine into the ocean). The idea was supposed to be that commercially cultivated flowers, perhaps in the hands of the heroine at the time of the disaster, perhaps thrown by happenstance into the water from a dining table flower arrangement during the commotion and sinking, have happened to end up floating in the very same waves in which the heroine finds herself engulfed.
This explanation has always struck IED as suspiciously superficial -- not to mention implausible. The image of a beautiful young Englishwoman floating on her back in a cold, deathly state, dressed in a white lace nightie and set adrift amid exotic and colourful flowers has, since the seventeenth-century premiere of Hamlet, been inextricably connected with the fate of Ophelia.
In fact, the image of Ophelia in the water is a relatively modern variant on the Arthurian images of both Elaine and the Lady of Shalott. These two earlier legends feature their heroines floating downstream in open boats (in which they eventually are found dead). This image, in fact, was reproduced precisely by Kate herself in what was virtually her debut on video, the so-called Eftelink films, specifically the last of the six, a setting of "The Kick Inside". The reader will begin to see the extent of the convolutions involved; see, in fact, a multitude of wheels within wheels, and all of impeccably, classically English origin.
But the images are not only associated with the word, but with English paintings, as well, and these are predominantly Victorian. The most famous of all of these pictures, and possibly the single greatest image of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, is "Ophelia", by John Everett Millais (1852). Kate is definitely very familiar with the painting; her brother confirmed as much in conversation with IED at East Wickham Farm in 1985. At the time this point made littel impression on IED, but since then it has come to take on increasing importance in his fevered brain...
During that conversation IED and JCB discussed the connection of the "Lakeside" images (photographs taken by Jay of his sister sitting and stretching by the banks of the river or lake which appears in the Eftelink videos) with Pre-Raphaelite imagery. We also talked about the famous post-Pre-Raphaelite painting (in the Tate Gallery) of the Lady of Shalott, by John William Waterhouse. There are at least four other very familiar paintings of about the same date which depict episodes from the legend of the Lady of Shalott, and which were inspired by a poetic setting of the legend in...Tennyson's Idylls of the King. (More wheels ...) IED has been purposelessly musing on all of this, mulling over also Kate's own comments about the influence of Pre-Raphaelitism on her own artistic vocabulary (see quote No. 1) as well as the large painting, called "The Hogsmill Ophelia", which hangs in her studio (see quote No. 2). And the more familiar he becomes with the images and the references, the more sense it all makes. What do you think?
Quote Number 1:
NM: I'm reminded by a painting in the corner here, which is a sort of satire of a Pre-Raphaelite painting, that I always have thought that those Victorian painters, the Pre-Raphaelites, were an influence to the texture of your song writing.
KB: Yes, yes. I think that particularly in my very early teens I was very enchanted by the whole romance of it, yes. They find their way into songs, the imagery. I think that's what happens: something attracts you because of its imagery and you digest it and it comes up in a song. I think that's how artists work; they are like magpies, picking up little bits of gold and storing them away.
Quote No. 2:
At one end of the studio is a huge painting of a drowned, cracked doll floating face up past a sewer. For some reason this painting, which might be described as macabre-kitsch, seems to say a lot about its owner. Kate returns and sees me examining it.
"That's called 'The Hogsmill Ophelia'. A lot of people find it disturbing but I don't. I lived with it for ages. Looked at it every day. That picture cost me all the money I had once. Paintings are a great inspiration. One of my favourites is by Millais, 'The Huguenot'. It's of a man going off to the wars being hugged to the breast of his lover. She's holding him to her by a scarf around his arm. It's very beautiful."
Date: 14 Sep 88 18:48:43 GMT
From: blblbl!henrik@GAFFA.MIT.EDU (Larry DeLuca)
Subject: survival of the protagonist?
> From: |>oug:
> ... then we hear the submarine coming to rescue Kate ...
I'm sorry - I just can't buy that interpretation. I think she's doomed to die from the start. As far as my reasons go, let me start with the transition from Hello Earth to Morning Fog, and then go over the rest of the piece to substantiate my viewpoint further.
We do in fact hear the sonar at the end of Hello, Earth, but we hear it in And Dream of Sheep as well. Each time it's used, the lyrics indicate that we are moving deeper into the death state (or unconsciousness) and away from the life state. In the case of Hello, Earth:
"Deeper, deeper, somewhere in the depths, there is a light."
During the course of the song, things grow gradually softer. We are lulled into a final sleep, like a leaf drifting downward, or some object slowly sinking into water. The last thing we hear is a bit of a muffled seagull, and the line:
"Go to sleep Little Earth"
and then we fade. Suddenly, the very sharp attack (along with a greatly increased volume level) of Morning Fog starts. The words to Morning Fog also imply that a metamporphosis has taken place, and a fairly specific one at that:
I am falling
like a stone
like a storm
being born again
into the sweet morning fog
In this passage the life of the "storm" is over, it has changed into something else, and is going to continue on with its existance. It would seem a rescue would imply a more gradual recovering of consciousness, and certainly a return to the previous state. The storm chaning to fog, however, also implies the fight against the environment being given up and succumbing to becoming part of it. It's a wonderful image.
Second, we mention the light again - implying that the light is an important figure in the transition. Certainly, in "the depths" (be they the depths of the ocean or the depths of unconsciousness - but I'll get to that in a minute) there isn't much light at all - so perhaps the light is the doorway to another place.
Begin to bleed,
Begin to breathe,
Begin to speak
Images of birth -- while rescue is a possibility, it would make it a much weaker statement. The "light" that was identified as the speaker lost consciousness for the last time in Hello Earth clearly led somewhere (into The Morning Fog ). I would place the exact moment of "death" at the juncture between the two pieces.
Further, the line "I'm falling / And I'd love to hold you now" is in the subjunctive -- implying that for some reason she *can't* hold the person she's talking to.
Now, as far as an overview of the entire piece (mind you, from my own perspective). It's a time-compression - a mixture of hallucinations and reality as the speaker drifts in and out of consciuosness (the reader is referred to "Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce for another example of this method of telling a story).
Starting at the present, with And Dream of Sheep. We encounter the leading character treading water, hoping for rescue. It's late, it's cold, she's tired. Starting to drift in and out a bit:
"Let me be weak, let me sleep, and dream of sheep"
The recurring images of shifting alertness like "I'll wake up to any sound of engines / every gull a seeking craft" - reassurance that she won't, in fact, drift too deep into sleep and drown. The gull here is one of the first effects we hear, again implying that attention is more easily shifted - (anyone who's driven too many hours on a rainy night can appreciate this one, I think).
"They take me deeper and deeper"
As she drifts off into the first hallucination, in the strings we hear the first rescue boats in the water. However, the leading character's mind is remembering the incident that caused her to end up there in the first place. (Her seeing herself precludes this actually happening in the present).
At this point, most likely the rescuer voices are real, coming in from far away as they do - those little bits of consciousness that creep in even when you're asleep or drifting.
Next, we have the "Wake up" section. while it is possible that the leading character is actually dragged up onto the beach at this point (I still consider it a possibility), the theory I currently prefer is that the lines are the conscious mind attempting to push through the haze again). The series of "Wake up", and "Wake up love" lines could plausibly have been spoken and filtered through the unconscious, but the other lines, like "Pay Attention", "See that little light over there", "Over here", and "Look who's here to see you" that clearly are not taking place in the present and are most likely drawn from experiences, knowledge, and lore that are the province of the leading character (certainly the "See the light ..." dialogue is the temptation to give in and die). In any event, the broken-up voice that starts Waking the Witch reminds me very strongly of the near-drowning experience I had as a small child -- bobbing up and down in the water desperately struggling for breath and trying to scream for help sounded a lot like that, and is part of what makes Waking the Witch so chilling for me.
As everyone I am sure will recall, there were a series of "tests" to determine if one was, in fact, a witch. It was believed that every witch had a spot on their body which proved they were a witch because if it was stabbed with a needle no blood would come forth ("You won't bleed"). Another common test was to submerge the would-be witch in a well. If the water "accepted" her (she sank) she was not a witch. If the water "rejected" her (she floated) clearly she was a witch since wood floated -> wood was lighter than water -> witches floated -> witches were made of wood (how do you argue with logic like that).
Note that our "witch-hunter" is the same voice that encouraged the leading character toward the "light" in the earlier passage of the song (the last "Over here"). Now encouraging her further into the "depths" - "Wings in the water - Go down".
Again, the metaphor of the depths doesn't necessarily imply that she's literally sinking, but losing the battle.
The helicopter and the "Get out of the waves", "get out of the water" imply our rescue party giving up -- "the waves" further suggests stormy seas - perhaps there is a large storm coming and they have to cut their losses.
Watching You Without Me - the lyrics are pretty straightforward -nice use of the muffler at the beginning to imply that it's more like voices on the wind - the suggestion of presence instead of the actuality of it. The only sounds we hear are nautical ones - the morse-code SOS after the second verse of the song, the rolling waves, the seagulls. We haven't really left the beach at all, as our auditory cues tell us, it's just the mind drifting again.
The mind shifts again, and the leading character's mind makes one last bid for survival - herself as an old woman confronting her present self. "I put this moment here. I put this moment here. I put this moment *over here*" - the last *over here* is a voice from earlier on in Waking the Witch - the voice that attempted to lull her away before, and is having more success now. The lines of the poem following imply further temptation to give in and follow.
"A kiss on the wind and we'll make the land "
The kiss of death...
"Waiting for them when the life-spray cools"
Hello Earth - as our leading character drifts further away from life, she becomes more passive. The descision point was at the end of Jig of Life. Now we drift downward, accepting fate. The cue that there isn't a whole lot of time passing between this and Waking the Witch are the second set of rescuer's commands to "Get out of the waves, get out of the water". People are called home, the search over. The leading character also doesn't ask for help any more "All you fishermen / head for home / Go to sleep little earth".
The rest of the analytical trail picks up at the beginning of the article.
One alternative interpretation I've considered is that during the "Wake up" section and preceding it, the leading character is dragged out of the water and the more sensible "wake up"'s come from the rescuers. However, there is less founding for this in the rest of the music.
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 88 23:57 PDT
Subject: A visit with two Irish musicians (Donal Lunny and Liam O'Flynn)
IED just returned from the debut West Coast concert by Donal Lunny and Liam O'Flynn. The concert was only about seventy-five minutes of actual music, but the quality was breathtaking, and above all the musical authenticity was absolute. They emphasized reels, jigs and hornpipes, and played only three slow airs all night, which to this novice of Irish music was something of a disappointment. But overall, 'twas a truly grand evenin'.
After attending the concert, and after waiting without result for some time afterward outside the musicians' practice room while the audience for the second show filed in and began getting impatient, IED decided it was time to be obnoxious and just barge in...so he knocked timidly. Donal (who plays bouzouki and guitar) said yes, come in, though "we are a bit preoccupied." Which didn't exactly put your Love-Hounds KorrespondenT at ease; but he pressed on.
When they heard the name "Kate Bush" spout from IED's lips, however, they relaxed visibly and became quite friendly -- expansive, even.
[Question about Night of the Swallow, see TD. --WIE]
Did the process change at all for the work on "The Ninth Wave"? Not really, they said, though as they described the sessions it became clear that considerably more work had gone into the actual playing for "Jig of Life", "Hello Earth" and "And Dream of Sheep". For "Jig of Life", especially, they had played for a very long time, many many hours. Donal said that she asked them to "do what we do". Since these two musicians are almost exclusive one-instrument specialists (pipes and bouzouki), and since their styles are by now very fully formed and identifiable, it was immediately clear what Donal meant by this.
The interesting thing, though, he said, was that Kate knew precisely what notes she wanted to hear: again, she didn't give them the specific musical ideas, but it was clear that she had the ideas of the melodic and harmonic lines in her head. She let them play and play, but afterward, she tailored their work with an exactitude they had never encountered anywhere before. IED is not exaggerating this at all. Donal especially was extremely impressed with Kate's perfectionism.
He said that he remembered one part of their sessions on "The Ninth Wave" particularly well. It was for the tiny bit of whistle heard at the end of "And Dream of Sheep". Love-Hounds will know that this passage, which is devastatingly beautiful in the final version, consists of only one or two notes by the whistle. Donal said he remembered how Kate had that tiny bit of piping music played for her over and over again:
"I mean it went on and on. She worked all day at it -- for just one note! It was great. She'd say 'That's terrific... but now see if you can't just make that note bend just a little more...' We ended up working on one note for more than three hours!"
Liam, who seems by nature to be a little less open and talkative than Donal, was nevertheless equally respectful of Kate. They both commented on her total command of the studio and her perfect understanding of the musical problems of each part. Finally, I asked Liam if he had worked on anything with Kate since "Hounds of Love". The answer was no. This was a bit of a surprise to IED until he remembered that Kate has been working with Davy Spillane this time --perhaps she wanted to experiment with a newer style of piping for the new record.
Alas! IED must end this report on a disheartening note. The last thing IED asked Liam was whether he had had any talks with Kate about possible concerts. He said, "No, not at all. You know, I don't think Kate has gone on tour in several years now!" IED was quick to let him know just how bloody many years it had been (though not in those terms). Now this doesn't mean that Kate hasn't been planning a tour, since Liam didn't seem to know about Kate's work with Davy Spillane, either, as far as IED could tell. But it certainly doesn't sound very encouraging.
Anyway, thus ends the tale of an L.A. Love-Hound's all-too-brief chat with two brilliant and kindly musicians from Ireland. IED signs off for now, but his fingers remain crossed, and he can still hear that note floating.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Tue, 03 Jan 89 11:54 PST
Subject: The Ninth Wave, by Eugene Burdick
While rummaging around in the 4-for-a-dollar baskets at a Hollywood used bookstore, IED ran across an arresting title: The Ninth Wave, by Eugene Burdick. Burdick was co-author of Fail-Safe, for those who want to know. The Ninth Wave was published by Dell Books in 1956, and sold over a million copies. It's a pot-boiler about government ambition: as the Chicago Trib put it, "A powerful novel...violent actions, startling sexual episodes...bold, brash!"
The symbolic relevance of the title is explained in the first chapter, The Ninth Ninth Wave, which concerns a group of California surfers. Here is an excerpt:
"...He sat stubbornly, endlessly waiting for the ninth ninth wave. Some of the other boys would get excited, mistake a big hump for the ninth ninth, but never Hank. He always knew when it would come; he never took a smaller wave; he always waited for the big one. They all believed that every ninth wave was bigger than the preceding eight, and every subsequent ninth wave was bigger than the one before it, until the biggest wave of all was the ninth ninth.
Mike wasn't sure if the system was accurate, but he did know that there was always one wave a day that was bigger than the rest. The other waves might be big and sometimes they were really huge and you might get excited and think that one of them was the ninth ninth. But not Hank. He always knew when to wait. He always got the biggest wave of the day." (Pp. 9-10).
IED has sent off a copy to Kate for her amusement.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Fri, 24 Mar 89 18:28 PST
Subject: Survival of the heroine
>> And I still say she dies at the end of "The Ninth Wave".
> She does not, you cretinous phlegm-eating slug scabbie!
Ugh! IED would never go that far, but again he must agree with Doug (on the substantive issue of this dispute). Kate's own comments on the subject of The Ninth Wave, as well as dozens of details in the lyrics themselves, leave little doubt that the heroine survives the night. The most obvious of these, however, is the basic metaphor of the final section. The woman returns to the Earth like the fog--an image which Kate has explained has a completely positive and life-affirming connotation for her. Also, of course, the character's final determination to express openly her love for her family and lover makes sense only if she has survived. For Kate has said that The Ninth Wave ends "positively" and "with hope". There is therefore no real possibility that the heroine dies, since her death would make her final decision to communicate with her loved ones nothing but an ironic and cynical commentary on the futility of life--an attitude which Kate would never assume.
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 89 12:26 PST
Subject: Survival of the heroine
> Let's face it. I love Kate as much as we all do, but at the end of *The Ninth Wave*, Kate's character is dead. She has turned the toes up to the daisies, given an obolus to Charon, shuffled off this mortal coil, dead dead dead dead.
This is absurd. What evidence --and IED means evidence that doesn't just as easily or more easily support a quite different inter-pretation--is there in The Ninth Wave that the heroine actually dies? On the contrary, everything that happens in the recording, as well as everything that Kate has ever said about it, indicate that there is a good chance that the heroine survives her night in the water. IED has already given several concrete examples that show this (though for some reason he never received the Digest that included that posting).
IED has said this time and again in the past, but Pete Berger's remarks above require another reminder: It doesn't do any good merely to say "Dead dead dead dead dead". You have to present some reasons for your position. IED concedes Julian's and Bob's point that it's almost possible to make some kind of case for the heroine's death in Hello Earth and subsequent "reincarnation" in The Morning Fog. But there are many details in the song--as well as a host of explanatory comments by Kate--which greatly strain the plausibility of such an interpretation. And although it may be true that Kate hasn't actually explicitly stated: "The character in The Ninth Wave doesn't die," that in itself is definitely not an argument for her being dead --certainly not at any time during the explicit narrative. She never said The Big Sky wasn't about the history of the state of Montana. Does that make Montana the secret "true" meaning of The Big Sky ?
> Mind you, she *IS* happy about it. But in this cruel world that's not too uncommon. In fact, one can almost look at her death as her *REWARD* for going through life. This is, at any rate, a very Kate-like idea, I think.
Why? How is such a notion "Kate-like"? Where did you get the idea that Kate's message is somehow an invitation to death? Again, this is absurd.
The question you should be asking yourselves is whether the theory that the heroine dies is the single most likely explanation of all the facts, or whether, after all, there isn't another far more straightforward explanation that doesn't require any awkward twists of logic and convolutions of storyline in order to answer all the questions. The Ninth Wave is very complicated, IED is the first to admit that. But that's why Kate repeatedly took the trouble to explain what was happening in each song, and what the general theme of the suite was. And nowhere in any of her comments did she ever imply that the heroine actually dies.
Here is one of several descriptions of the story that Kate has given (IED has deleted one paragraph that has to do with technical aspects of the recording). It is typical of her comments about The Ninth Wave. You will see how logical and linear Kate makes the story's narrative out to be, and how she explains those events in terms of the living, suffering, hallucinating character. She also does--admittedly--remain unspecific about the final fate of the heroine. But you will see that what she leaves open at the end concerns the heroine's fate following her survival of the night, not at any point during the narrative. Kate leaves us in no doubt at all that her protagonist, whatever the outcome of her dilemma, has not died before the clock (literally) ticks away the last second of the recording:
"The song after that is Hello Earth, and this is the point where she's so weak that she relives the experience of the storm that took her in the water, almost from a view: looking down on the earth up in the heavens, watching the storm start to form--the storm that eventually took her and that has put her in this situation.
"This takes us into The Morning Fog. 'Morning fog' is the symbol of light and hope. It's the end of the side, and if you ever have any control over endings they should always, I feel, have some kind of light in there."
Date: Wed, 03 May 89 13:58 PDT
Subject: On The Ninth Wave death issue
As if IED had not already provided enough proof that the heroine of The Ninth Wave does not die, here is an excerpt from one of the MTV interviews Kate gave in 1985, which IED had forgotten about until recently:
J.J. Jackson: Now there are those who will say that the songs are about someone drowning, but Kate says that is not the case.
Kate Bush: "I think even though a lot of people say that the side is about someone drowning, it's much more about someone who's not drowning, and how they're there for the night in the water, being visited by their past, present and future to keep them awake, to keep them going through until the morning, until there, uh, there's hope."
Date: 14 Jul 89 14:15 -0700
From: Mark Anderson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: The Ninth Wave - Yet more KonTroversy
Yes, I know this has been discussed and discussed and discussed, but it's my first contribution...
Stephen Kurtzman writes re The Ninth Wave:
> Yeah, its pretty clear that the person does not survive. Otherwise you have to make all sorts of out-of-body experience hypotheses to account for her being a ghost watching her loved one in "Watching you Without Me" and her ability to play peek-a-boo with the earth in "Hello Earth".
No! No! No! She does NOT die (IMHO)! Before I bought HoL, I had already read a bunch of arguments discussing the subject here in Love-Hounds. So when I finally bought the album, I thought I would have a lot of trouble deciding whether or not she dies at the end of The Ninth Wave.
But to my surprise, I found that after only a couple of listenings, I definitely had the feeling she survives. Not, perhaps, because of what the lyrics say (as we have already seen, the lyrics are ambiguous) but because of the feelings and emotions the music evoked. In particular, The Morning Fog seems to be about, well, the morning fog. That is, making it through the night.
Regarding the argument that you have to believe Kate is talking about out-of-body experiences unless she means that the heroine dies: personally, I think WYwoM describes a hallucinatory experience the heroine is having, in perhaps an almost dreamlike state in the water. Ditto Hello Earth. And I'm pretty sure Kate herself has given this explanantion before.
Date: Fri, 14 Jul 89 17:52:24 PDT
From: email@example.com (Kevin Gurney)
Subject: Heroine death at end of TNW
Mark Anderson writes:
> No! No! No! She does NOT die (IMHO)!
> But to my surprise, I found that after only a couple of listenings, I definitely had the feeling she survives. Not, perhaps, because of what the lyrics say (as we have already seen, the lyrics are ambiguous) but because of the feelings and emotions the music evoked. In particular, The Morning Fog seems to be about, well, the morning fog. That is, making it through the night.
Gee thanks Mark. If only I had actually listened to the album before posting my opinions. :) (I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn't mean to imply that I hadn't actually listened to it.)
Why do we assume that since TMF is "cheerful" music that she couldn't have died? Why assume that the physical experience of death is a dark, morbid, scary, painful thing? I've never actually talked to anyone who's died, but I've heard about so-called "near death" experience, where people are technically dead and then come back. The majority of these people talk about being bathed in a bright, hazy light. Sort of like when the sun is out of a foggy day (I went to school in California's Central Valley and we had lots of days like this).
Here are the "hints" I see in this song:
1. Is she physically "falling like a stone"? Couldn't have been a very successful rescue if she is. How about emotionally "falling like a stone"? Doesn't really fit with the rest of the song, does it? What if she's "falling" through this world into another? That makes sense to me.
2. Why does she sing "I'd (I would ) love to hold you now."? Why not simply "I'll hold you now."? Unless she can't BECAUSE SHE'S DEAD!
3. The couplet "Being born again/Into the sweet morning fog" just sounds too much like she's passed on to the next world. I can't think of any other plausible interpretation. Oh she could be saying, "Now that I'm out of the water, I feel so young again. My, look how foggy it is this morning. What's that smell? Does someone have candy?", but that's just way to clumsy for me to believe.
If you can get past the cliche that "happy music means happy things are happening", then it's not too hard to see that the heroine could have died.
BTW - I agree with Mark Anderson that WYw/oM is a halucination, and not a "spiritual visit". I don't think that defeats my theory though. I have always claimed that she dies at the end of "Hello Earth", at the spoken line (in German) "Deeper, deeper, somewhere in the deep there is a light". God, it just all fits! Can't you see it! (I feel like a frustated poet who can't find the right words.)
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 89 13:28 PDT
> Yeah, its pretty clear that the person does not survive. Otherwise you have to make all sorts of out-of-body experience hypotheses to account for her being a ghost watching her loved one in "Watching you Without Me" and her ability to play peek-a-boo with the earth in "Hello Earth".
The above statement is ignorant and poorly considered. IED quotes Kate: "Not many people consider that cruel side of the sea, and how...ultimate it is. And also the whole thing of almost...like--sensory deprivation, where you've been in the water a while, you start losing all sense of where you are, who you are, whether you're upside down or whatever. And I just found the whole thing terribly fascinating. Although The Ninth Wave is about a very physical event, it's very much a mental event as well in that you are travelling in your head, even though your body is just floating in water."
Frankly, IED can't believe that this nonsense about the heroine "dying" at the end of The Ninth Wave is being bandied about yet again. Did no-one learn anything from IED's last posting on this subject? It's just not a matter of debate, folks. There are lots of things in Kate's work that are ambiguous and which may never be resolved, but the fact of the heroine's being alive at the end of The Ninth Wave is not one of them. Kate has said so herself!
Besides which, the whole suite would make no sense at all if the character were dead at the end. First of all, Kate has several times explained that Watching You Without Me is based on the idea of sensory deprivation, and the experience of leaving one's body (while alive). The song describes an illusion, a hallucination, that the heroine experiences while drifting in the water overnight. This is not debatable. Kate has said so flatly more than once.
Kate has also said that WYWM is the low-point of the suite. She has said that Jig of Life introduces the first note of "hope" into The Ninth Wave, by telling the story of the heroine's encounter with her own future self. The old woman is the heroine scolding the girl in the water, and admonishing her not to die because she still has to get married and have children, etc. It would have been totally antithetical to Kate's theme and artistic purposes to have made this song the emotional and ideological turning-point of the entire suite (as Kate has more than once said it is), if the heroine had then gone ahead and died before the end of the suite.
Hello Earth continues the sensory deprivation theme, sending the heroine's consciousness into space. When Kate explained the song Blow Away from Never for Ever she often talked about stories she had read about people who had survived near-death experiences. She associated those descriptions with the idea of leaving one's body, and this is a theme which she explores further in The Ninth Wave. It does not indicate that the heroine actually dies, however! In fact, knowing what we know about Kate's associations with this theme, it implies exactly the opposite.
Finally, The Morning Fog. First, no one here has said that because the music sounds "happy" (which it doesn't, in IED's opinion --of all the silly stereotypical ways of describing the rich and complex mood of that music, "happy" has got to be one the silliest), it must mean the heroine survives. But the lyrics certainly don't give any evidence that the heroine does not survive. Let's look again at the comments Kevin Gurney made, with his examples from the text:
>1. Is she physically "falling like a stone"? Couldn't have been a very successful rescue if she is. How about emotionally "falling like a stone"? Doesn't really fit with the rest of the song, does it? What if she's "falling" through this world into another? That makes sense to me.
It makes no more sense than the former idea, that she is falling like a stone back into her life. The image suggests the fall back to earth, to gravity, to reality. It's a very straightforward and appropriate mataphor.
Kevin makes the mistake of assuming that anyone here has been arguing that an actual "rescue" takes place in The Ninth Wave. IED sees no evidence that a rescue has already been effected before the piece ends. His only claim--and it is an indisputable one--is that the heroine has not actually died in the water before the piece ends. Why does the obviously poetic, meta-phorical "stone" image not "fit" with the rest of the song, or with the idea that she is coming to a new understanding of the value of life? Clearly the heroine has gone through a cathartic experience during the night, and now that the dawn has come she appreciates her life and her loved ones more. This is not a matter of debate.
If the character were dead at this point, then her new-found appreciation of her loved ones would be without purpose, which is diametrically opposed to the avowed "hopeful, upbeat" ending Kate has herself described The Morning Fog to be. How anyone could consider that Kate would conclude The Ninth Wave with such a cruel, heavily ironic and bitter joke as that--allowing her heroine to appreciate her loved ones only when she has died--is beyond IED. It is just plain wrong, there's no two ways about it. Obviously the heroine has gone through the night, learned a great deal about the value of her life and her future, and--at least at the time when the piece ends--is still alive. If she had died by this time, her newfound appreciation of her own future as a wife and mother, and of her friends still on Earth, would be nothing but a nasty, downbeat irony--something which is quite impossible in Kate Bush, and which she has herself said is not the final message of The Ninth Wave.
>2. Why does she sing "I'd (I would ) love to hold you now."? Why not simply "I'll hold you now."? Unless she can't BECAUSE SHE'S DEAD!
This is ridiculous. She's in the ocean, for chrissake! She's talking about how she'd like to be able to hold her loved one at that moment if she could. If you're going to make a fuss about the use of the conditional mode in this spot, and claim it as "proof" that the character is dead, then how are you going to explain the very next lines, all of which are in the simple future tense? They read:
"I'll kiss the ground
I'll tell my mother
I'll tell my father
I'll tell my loved one
I'll tell my brothers
How much I love them."
There's just no way of interpreting these lines as anything but a clear and unequivocal statement of the heroine's intention to do just those very things when she gets out of the water. It is quite beyond debate, therefore, that (at least at this point in the story, i.e. the end of the story as far as the public knows), the heroine is alive. Also, if you have a CD of Hounds of Love, you will be able to hear a sound effect in the very last half-second of The Ninth Wave : the momentary sound of a clock ticking. This nearly buried but very real sound (it is not equipment noise, and has even cryptically been affirmed by John Carder Bush) is another clear sign that the girl's life is continuing at the end of the piece.
>3. The couplet "Being born again/Into the sweet morning fog" just sounds too much like she's passed on to the next world. I can't think of any other plausible interpretation. Oh she could be saying, "Now that I'm out of the water, I feel so young again. My, look how foggy it is this morning. What's that smell? Does someone have candy?", but that's just way to clumsy for me to believe.
Of course there is another "plausible" explanation! You trivialize the alternative way of reading this line, but if you think about it, it's actually the only truly plausible reading. The clear and undeniable theme of The Ninth Wave is the cathartic re-awakening of the heroine's attitude toward her life. That's what Jig of Life is all about, that's what Watching You Without Me is the preface to. There's no question about this, Kate has said so herself. Therefore, the heroine's feeling that she's "being born again into the sweet morning fog" is a completely consistent, natural way of describing her catharsis--the epiphanous experience she has undergone through her traumatic night in the water. To say that the simple expression "being born again" must mean that she has actually died is to deny not only a perfectly valid alternative interpretation of those words in their own right, but also to deny everything that has gone before it in The Ninth Wave.
IED started off this posting by saying that Kate has herself said that the heroine does not die. He posted relevant quotations in Love-Hounds only a few short months ago. For this reason he feels compelled to express again the wish that you folks would work on improving your memories, or at least that you'd review the archives once or twice before spouting off ill-informed, weakly supported theories without doing the necessary research. Here are Kate's own words:
"Well, as part of the concept of the second side, The Ninth Wave, the last song had to be very positive, very much the idea of everything bursting into light so it's all suddenly reborn, rather than that every-thing dies." And, again, Kate's own words (and this ought to put an end once and for all to the ridiculous notion of dying): "A lot of people have said that The Ninth Wave is about the girl dying, but it's much more about the girl not dying." (Kate's own italics.)
-- Andrew Marvick
Date: Sat, 15 Jul 89 18:23:39 PDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Kevin Gurney)
Subject: Heroine death (one last time, I promise)
> --of all the silly stereotypical ways of describing the rich and complex mood of that music ["The Morning Fog"], "happy" has got to be one the silliest.
Silliest? Okay, what words would you use to characterize it? Given that it's of a spirited tempo, it's in a major key, it begins 'subito forte', the acoustic guitar is clear and in the foreground of the recording, and that it follows a piece which is in a minor key and fades out, I'd say 'happy' isn't too far from the mark. But since you've obviously given careful and studied thought to the word that best describes the musical nature of The Morning Fog, by all means do share your thoughts with the rest of us.
I'm also curious to see what you find so "rich and complex" about the mood of this piece. Again, please share your thoughts with the rest of us.
> Kevin makes the mistake of assuming that anyone here has been arguing that an actual "rescue" takes place in The Ninth Wave. IED sees no evidence that a rescue has already been effected before the piece ends.
I guess I stand guilty as charged. I assumed that those who see a survival also saw a rescue. Apparently, Andrew doesn't. But without evidence of a rescue how can you claim that she survives? Yes, she may have survived the night, and she's put her life in perspective, but you can't really say she survives the water and goes back to her family and all the other elements that are necessary for a truly happy ending. (Oh there's that word again. So sorry Andrew.)
Maybe, just maybe, the "hopeful, upbeat" (Kate's words) ending of this suite is that if the heroine should die after the record ends, then she is able to accept her death. Maybe not. (I think we already know what Andrew thinks.)
> Why does the obviously poetic, metaphorical "stone" image not "fit" with the rest of the song, or with the idea that she is coming to a new understanding of the value of life?
I can see your point and must admit that it does make sense. Touche'.
> If you're going to make a fuss about the use of the conditional mode in this spot, and claim it as "proof" that the character is dead, then how are you going to explain the very next lines, all of which are in the simple future tense? They read:
[ lines deleted ]
There's just no way of interpreting these lines as anything but a clear and unequivocal statement of the heroine's intention to do just those very things when she gets out of the water.
Or she, being dead, will 'tell' her loved ones how much she loves them in other ways. The more mystical among us can hope/believe that contact with the dead is possible (No, I'm not claiming that Kate believes this, so put the gun down), and those of us raised in a Catholic tradition (as I believe Kate was, having atteded St. Joseph's Convent Grammar School), can remember being told that the dead in heaven pray for us on earth just as we here on earth pray for their souls.
> Also, if you have a CD of Hounds of Love, you will be able to hear a sound effect in the very last half-second of The Ninth Wave : the momentary sound of a clock ticking. This nearly buried but very real sound (it is not equipment noise, and has even cryptically been affirmed by John Carder Bush) is another clear sign that the girl's life is continuing at the end of the piece.
I haven't heard this, but I shall don headphones tonight and hunt for it. How in the world does a clicking clock, assuming that's what it is, mean "the girl's life is continuing"? Please elaborate on this idea.
And now for the summing up....
Many times throughout Andrew's response he used phrases like:
> It's just not a matter of debate, folks.
Well it's not about debate, Andrew. It's about interpretation! As I see it, there are few Absolutes Rights and Wrongs when it comes to artistic intrepretation. An artist may certainly say, "Well, that's not what I was aiming for", but that doesn't mean others can't explore other interpretations of the art. In fact sometimes artists themselves don't even know the intrepretation of the art they create. (This is general comment about art, and is not meant to suggest that I think Kate doesn't know what she's doing).
If you have some personal problem with intrepretations of Kate's songs that in any fashion contradict what Kate herself has said they might mean, that's fine. But it's a far leap from "This is what Kate says" to "This is what is must mean for all people, for all time!"
I would think Kate must see the oppurtunity that re-intrepretation and re-examination provide to keep great works of art alive and breathing. I think you really must examine whether you're doing Kate's music a service by insisting on rigid, dogmatic dedication to the (mostly ambiguous) remarks Kate has made about the deeper meaning of her songs.
If some of us find solace in the belief that the heroine faces death at the end of the suite (or even after the record ends) with a clear mind and a fuller understanding of her love for her family and friends, rather than in a panicked flailing of self-doubt and fear, then who are you to say we are Wrong? Likewise, I now realize that some of my own comments about the above theory, while meaning only to point out what I see as obvious, may have been interpreted as saying "this is the way it must be". This was never my intent; if Andrew or anyone else think (and I do believe the majority holds this view) that the heroine not only survives the night, but is (or has already been) rescued by the end of the record, then that's fine with me and I won't say (and never had said!): "It's not a matter of debate, folks."
As you've often said, Andrew, you have a particular way of writing about Kate and her KrafT for which you feel no need to apologize. I certainly won't ask for an apology, but I would ask that you examine your thoughts on the subject of artistic criticism and interpretation more closly, away from the flamage and blither of the net. If you really, truly, all-hyperbolic-netwriting-aside, believe that this sort of discussion is "not a matter for debate", then I think you should come out and say so.
So now what do I think happens at the of TNW? Well, now I'm more likely to subscribe to the point of view that; she doesn't die at the end of Hello Earth; the Morning Fog is a celebration not just of life, but of her survival; whether she is rescued or not, the heroine has had a truly glorious and soul-enriching experience for which she can be nothing but the better; and that she herself, while unsure of her immediate future with regards to being rescued, isn't fearful of dying.
Your intrepretations may vary. :)
From: email@example.com (Christopher
Date: 17 Jul 89 23:12:09 GMT
Subject: Re: Heroine death at end of TNW
Remember that Kate Bush has been said to find the more magical side of life "fascinating", and has never (as far as I know) rejected the possibility of such talents as empathy, projection, foreknowledge, etc. With this in mind as possible source material for the TNW, the interpretation subject to the least ambiguity -- often the interpretation intended by the poet --supports the survival of the heroine. On the issue of poetry not having a correct interpretion: The correct interpretations will sit well with the *entire* work, illuminating *all* of its components. Such, at least, is what I consider to be high poetry.
g: Kevin Gurney
b: Steve Bloch
g > 1. Is she physically "falling like a stone"? Couldn't have been a very successful rescue if she is. How about emotionally "falling like a stone"? Doesn't really fit with the rest of the song, does it? What if she's "falling" through this world into another? That makes sense to me.
This [falling] expresses well the subjective descriptions of the spirit falling back into the body after an out-of-body experience. Such experiences are thought to happen to those attempting escape from especially harrowing events, perhaps causing death by abandonment. This fits nicely with her elder self's entreaty to her to *remain* in JoL, rather than to simply leave her body to die. This is also supported by her visit to her loved in WYWM, but inability to touch him.
Begin (sic) to bleed,
Begin to breathe,
Begin to speak
sound to me like the rediscovery of what her body feels like, after having been away for so long. I believe the keyword here is "falling", not "stone", *unless* perhaps she returns to her body to find it sinking like a stone, and the verse is describing the swim back up to the surface. It would be a nice double intent, if so.
g > 3. The couplet "Being born again/Into the sweet morning fog" just sounds too much like she's passed on to the next world. I can't think of any other plausible interpretation.
Death is often used as a metaphor for change, especially when associated with trauma. If an object/person is changed, the old *identity* is then obsolete, null, or dead. This metaphor is most clearly seen in the Tarot deck card "Death" (usually a skeleton) the tarot card for change. Hence, this reads for me as a line of rebirth. Someone said:
? > a completely consistent, natural way of describing her catharsis--the epiphanous experience she has undergone through her traumatic night in the water.
b > The ocean has been used as a metaphor for rebirth within this life for thousands of years.
This is a good observation by Bloch. My thoughts on the sea involved a certain inevitable, overpowering quality -- certainly an auspicious place for a person's being remade.
I personally have not yet decided whether or not she is rescued, although I am curious about the helicopter, and the line "Get out of the water!".
I also wonder about the word "Murderer" in Hello Earth. It this an accusation of her as-yet unborn children? Is it this that brings her back? (Does anyone have all this song written down?)
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 90 02:18 PST
From: Dave Armstrong <8548222@wwu.EDU>
Subject: More wild speculation HoL
> [Lindsay Kemp] ... He'd put you into emotional situations, some of them pretty heavy. Like he'd say, `Right, you're all now going to become sailors drowning, and there are waves curling up around you.' And everyone would just start screaming."
March 1978 Interview by Steve Clarke
"But it's interesting how most of these things originated long ago, and maybe four or five years later they're regurigated into an idea," she continues. "Like Cloudbusting [on the Hounds of Love LP] - that was originally from a book I read nine years before I wrote the song! It struck me very deeply, but it took a long time to be able to step back enough to write the song, because it was a very powerful experience for me."
January 1990, Music Express Magazine Interview by Mary Dickie
It's late and I'm tired but this sounds very much like it could have been the genesis of The Ninth Wave.
Date: Tue, 08 May 90 16:26 PDT
Subject: The Ninth Wave
The following summation of the narrative in The Ninth Wave is grossly incorrect:
> Here is a quick reply. The story basically is of a person (most likely a man) who is somehow thrown off of the ship he was traveling on. He is now in the water trying to stay alive. The longer he is in the water, the more tired he gets. He soon falls asleep and has a variety of dreams showing his longing for being rescued and safe. He returns home and visits his home "after dying". Later, he leaves his body entirely and floats away, to look at the Earth from orbit. The story ends on a happy note with the song Morning Fog but I think this is his last dream, as he dreams of being safe, he really dies. The lyrics are opaque enough to really derive many interpretations. Mine comes from interviews with Kate as she explains the thing.
-- Richard Fox
The Ninth Wave certainly affords a variety of interpretations, insofar as its larger symbolic and general thematic content is concerned. Its surface narrative, however, does not admit of much variety of interpretation. Kate has herself described the story in very precise terms. For one thing, she has been quite explicit about the fact that the protagonist is a woman, not a man. IED quotes from Kate's own KBC Newsletter article about the meaning of The Ninth Wave (this section begins with her comments about Waking the Witch):
It's the trial of this girl who's in the water; and all she wants to do is survive and keep her head above water.
The next song is about how she wants to go home. That's really the thing she wants most, just to be in the cosy atmosphere of her belongings all around her, and the security of those four walls and the firm ground, and being with the one that she loves. She finds that she's there in spirit, and there's her loved one sitting in a chair by the fire, but she hadn't conceived the idea that she wouldn't actually be there in real terms. She's not real. And although she can see her man, he can't see her--she can't communicate with him in any way. It's more of a nightmare than anything so far, because this is the closest she's been to any kind of comfort, and yet it's the furthest away.
The next song is Jig of Life. This is about the future self who comes to her rescue, basically. She says "Look, I'm the next part of your life and if I am going to survive and enjoy the things that I've enjoyed--having my children, my happy home and my husband--then you've got to keep it together, you've got to stay alive, you musn't drown or I will drown with you." It's the future begging her, pleading with her to let her, the future lady, live.
The song after that is Hello Earth, and this is the point where she's so weak that she relives the experience of the storm that took her in the water, almost from a view: looking down on the earth up in the heavens, watching the storm start to form--the storm that eventually took her and that has put her in this situation.
This takes us into The Morning Fog. "Morning Fog" is the symbol of light and hope. It's the end of the side, and if you ever have any control over endings they should always, I feel, have some kind of light in there.
Love-Hounds will see from these words of Kate's not only that the protagonist of The Ninth Wave is female (the song Jig of Life can permit no other condition anyway, so Kate's confirmation isn't even necessary), but also that the heroine is not "dead"! Kate has said in interviews that her concept for Watching You Without Me came out of her interest in the idea of sensory deprivation tanks, and the experience of feeling separated from one's body. (It's also very similar in concept to the earlier song Blow Away .) But the heroine is not dead in WYWM ; rather, her consciousness has simply traveled away from her body--much as it does in Hello Earth. There is no doubt about this: read Kate's description of Jig of Life above, and you will see that the very premise of that song requires that the heroine still be living at that point in the story. And since it is the struggle to remain alive that is the dominant dramatic issue in The Ninth Wave, it follows that the heroine must still be living as the last song ends--else Kate would not have said that there was still hope at the conclusion of the side.
IED doesn't know where Mr. Fox got his information, but he definitely didn't get it from interviews with Kate Bush herself.
Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1992 12:12:00 -0800
From: "Andy Gough, <@hermes.intel.com:AGOUGH@AZ.intel.com>
Subject: And Dream of Sheep
> Subject: *** Great Hounds of Love interview 2 *****
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Ron Hill)
> completely alone in all this water. AND THEY'VE GOT A LIFE JACKET WITH A LITTLE LIGHT SO THAT IF ANYONE SHOULD BE TRAVELING AT NIGHT THEY'LL SEE THE LIGHT AND KNOW THEY'RE THERE. And they're absolutely terrified, and they're
Hey, I think this is some documentation that contradicts the canonical IED interpretation of what the "little light" is in the song, "And Dream of Sheep." The canonical interpretation, as I remember it, is that the "little light" referred to is a lighthouse.
However, in the above, KaTe clearly refers to it as a little flashlight attached to the life jacket. I assume it's one of those emergency flashlights that turn on automatically when exposed to water. Now that I've heard the explanation of the reference, it makes perfect sense to me.
I think it also changes the feeling one might vibe from the song.
Thinking of a lighthouse, one might imagine the person in the water looking towards the horizon and seeing the lighthouse beam scanning around. The person would be enveloped in darkness, but would see a light in the distance. That light would represent safety and provide hope.
Thinking of a little emergency flashlight attached to the lifejacket, one might imagine that the person is surrounded by darkness. The flashlight provides a little illumination for the person, but everything around her is darkness. So no hopeful light to look towards. The only hope is that someone will see her little light. Also, the little light provides some comfort from the darkness. I imagine the scene as Kate's face illuminated weakly by a small flashlight below her chin, with total blackness around her.
So, the "lighthouse" interpretation is focused on the horizon and it's hope and safety. The "emergency flashlight" interpretation places the focus on the person, and the fear and lonliness they are experiencing.
[re The Morning Fog:]
> K: Well, that's really meant to be the rescue of the whole situation, where now suddenly out of all this darkness and weight comes light. You know, the weightiness is gone and here's the morning, and it's meant to feel very positive and bright and uplifting from the rest of dense, darkness of the previous track. And although it doesn't say so, in my mind this was the song where they were rescued, where they get pulled out of the water. And it's very much a song of seeing perspective, of really, you know, of being so grateful for everything that you have, that you're never grateful of in ordinary life because you just abuse it totally. And it was also meant to be one of those kind of "thank you and goodnight" songs. You know, the little finale where everyone does a little dance and then the bow and then they leave the stage. [laughs]
I believe this is another reference that reveals that the person does live at the end.
Date: Thu, 3 Feb 94 17:44:34 -0600
From: email@example.com (Valerie Nozick)
Subject: TNW: Alex Keskeshian
Someone mentioned to me that Alex Keshkeshian (or however you spell his name -- the guy who did the Madonna movie) wanted to do a movie of TNW, but Kate turned him down. Anyone know about this?
On to Fastnet: Force 10
written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Sept 1995 June 1996