A Red Shoes Collection

LH's comments on songs

2.2k. - "You Want Alchemy"

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Date: Sat, 16 Apr 1994 13:38:42 -0700 (PDT)
From: "Karen L. Newcombe" <kln@crl.com>
Subject: "You Want Alchemy"

While listening to "You Want Alchemy" for about the 70th time the other night the phone rang and who should it be but IED. He kindly pointed out to me that the secondary reason this song lingers in my mind (first reason being obvious) is that some lovely Debussy has been incorporated into it.


From: aj796@freenet.carleton.ca (Tippi Chai)
Date: Tue, 26 Apr 1994 15:07:42 GMT
Subject: You want Alchemy

Has anyone mentioned yet that the classical compostion which "You want Alchemy" reminds you of is Claude Debussy's piano work "Clair de lune" (Moonlight) ?


From: pptjc@vaxk.bton.ac.uk (It's in the trees... It's coming...)
Date: Tue, 3 May 1994 14:57:20 GMT
Subject: You want alchemy, lyrics etc.

'You Want Alchemy'.

[see Lyrics Section]

I have to say that my favourite lines are the last but one and the one that goes "Is he some kind of nut - or what?". That such a sarcastic remark should be sung so sweetly is really very funny.

I listen to it quite a lot (unlike 'Show A Little Devotion') but even though I really like the song, there are some serious defects that detract from my enjoyment. The drum sound is truely appalling; very agressive due to a combination of harsh EQ and all the cymbals being far too high in the mix. There's also an unforgivably crud edit at 3:08.5 on the word "You". The track as a whole displays some mild digital clipping and the cello sustain at the end has an annoying dropout on it. This could mean that the strings were recorded at another studio on analogue machines (like the orchestra for MoP) or were recorded at Kate's place a couple of years ago before the switch to digital. Y'know, it's at times like this that I feel like writing to Kate and giving her and especially Del a damn good telling off!!! I mean... would *you* spend 100 grand on digital multi-track and mastering recorders just to show off your latest failures at engineering?

The argument that 'oh well, it's just a B-side...' doesn't work (not least because the album has got some duff engineering on it too). If you're going to do something, do it properly! This has always been true but is more so now that digital technology makes your mistakes *that* much more obvious.


Date: Thu, 19 May 94 12:58:11 EDT
From: Andrew B Marvick <abm4@columbia.EDU>
Subject: You want Alchemy

One other minor point (demonstrating that IED can still spin Kate Bushological castles on air with the best of you): Someone suggested that You Want Alchemy should have been on the album. This would (in IED's view) have been impossible, as You Want Alchemy postdates the album. Kate referred in interviews to the making of The Red Shoes film as a kind of Kate Bush "Magical Mystery Tour". The reference to "our own mystery tour" (and "a cloudbusting kind of day") on the track suggest that the song recounts an experience Kate had during the filming of the movie.

-- Andrew Marvick (IED)

"Off the page..."


Date: Thu, 9 Jun 94 07:57:14 CDT
From: Mike.Gallaher@msfc.nasa.gov (Mike Gallaher)
Subject: You Want Alchemy

Maybe I'm projecting a lot into this song's lyrics that was never intended by Kate, but on first listen, my interpretation sunk in and I found myself deeply moved. I'm not sure I can do justice to the depths I find in it, but I'll try to hit the high points, as I see them.

Kate sings about meeting a beekeeper, who launches into his awe, his reverence, his love for bees, which she first responds to with "Is he some kind of nut, or what?" She doesn't get it, this fascination with bees. But it's not just bees. Everyone has something they feel passionate about. Most people keep it private, or throw themselves into something mundane like sports or pop music. Nobody treats sports enthusiasts as nuts (at least, not typically), but if you go on and on about bees, or Egyptian hieroglyphs, or comic books, or anything unconventional, an eyebrow will be raised, at the least.

These people often tend to be misfits, loners, often hurt at the way that people respond (or do not respond) to their passions. But in this song, Kate seems to take a tender step into this man's private world, to open herself and feel and respect this lonely man's joys. She approaches with sympathy, and for a brief moment, she can share his vision, and see the alchemy.

Wouldn't it be great if we could all do that: try to see the world and its pleasures as do the beekeepers and everyone else in the vastness of humanity? Discover how to take joy in all the things you've never bothered to think about or develop interest it? Or at least to try to help the lonely, the misunderstood, and to give them the rare opportunity to share their passions with someone else?


Date: Tue, 19 Jul 94 12:29:04 PDT
From: steve.b@TQS.COM (Steve Berlin)
Subject: Alchemy 101

Tree of Schnopia sez:

> "You Want Alchemy"? I have it on the Red Shoes single. It's crap.

If we define "crap" as being "A piece of music so increadibly wonderful that you can never listen to any other piece of music ever again since the other music would pale by comparison", then I agree, it is crap.

- Stev0 the Tree of Shoes

"I was GOING to tour last year, but geez, I just forgot to!" - Kate excuse #47


From: IED0DXM@aol.com
Date: Tue, 19 Jul 94 17:04:14 EDT
Subject: Re: You Want Alchemy

Whoever this "Drewcifer" character is, he's no critic. "You Want Alchemy" is many things, but one thing it definitely isn't is crap. Flip, mindless judgements like "Drewcifer"'s are, precisely, crap. "You Want Alchemy" is a non-album track that appeared as a b-side of one of the two CD-singles of "The Red Shoes". It is extremely interesting, both from a musical and a Kate Bushological perspective, and it is well worth hearing -- MANY TIMES, LOUD.


From: mas@csa.bu.edu (Mark A. Semich)
Date: 25 May 1994 04:32:45 GMT
Subject: Kate Is GOD!

I must confess: After seeing Kate's movie, "The Line, The Cross & The Curve," the prattle of a handful of stentorian naysayers began to worm its way into my brain and I began to doubt.

But now that I have experienced "You Want Alchemy," I realize the error of my ways and recant: Yes, KATE IS GOD!

This song is pure genius. At first, I was tempted to mention a few of the allusions and musical forms and other such aspects of this piece that I enjoy, but I then realized that such scientific analysis of Kate Misses The Point and performs a Great Injustice to Her work. Therefore, I will let it speak for itself:

Lyrical content follows [see Lyrics Section]


From: ied0dxm@aol.com (IED0DXM)
Date: 5 Aug 1994 20:18:02 -0400
Subject: re: YWA

From: (Tree of Schnopia)

> Why do I dislike "You Want Alchemy"? The chord progression is dreadfully monotonous, the Kate-screech is wasted on the wimpy chorus, and a charming motif is ruined by a lack of interesting treatment. Go to town! -- Drew

Never! IED appreciates your explanation. Naturally, he doesn't share your judgement that the chord progression is monotonous (though it is repetitious), that the Kate-screech is wasted on the "wimpy" chorus (though the disharmony between what he prefers to think of as Kate's impassioned vocal and the [rather "languid" than "wimpy"] chorus is striking), or that the "perfectly charming motif" (which all will long since have identified as a quotation of a phrase from Debussy's Clair de lune) is "ruined by a lack of interesting treatment" (though he concedes that the recording is more or less the same from beginning to end). Nevertheless, your points are instructive and do a lot to explain your opinion to this hopelessly devout follower of Kate.

On to Moments 2.2l. - "Home for Christmas"

Written by Love-Hounds
compiled and edited
Wieland Willker
August 1995