About the lyrics

by Andrew Marvick

(originally written for The Garden)

The lyrics of Kate Bush's songs pose many problems for the transcriber. Almost all of Kate's texts are extremely complex, and are inextricably wound up with the music to which they are set. To make matters worse, the various official editions are not always consistent either with the recorded music itself or with each other. Also, they are generally rather sketchy and unclear in terms of their layout on the page and their narrative meaning (as indicated by punctuation--or more accurately, the lack of punctuation).

To be fair, the lyrics' transcription onto the printed page will always be a difficult and frustrating task, and each editor must decide at the outset whether to favour the poetic, the musical or the narrative aspects of Kate's words.

In this edition I have chosen to emphasise the narrative meaning of Kate's lyrics as much as possible. This means that I have have made many changes from earlier, official editions. I want to make it very clear at the outset, however, that the actual words of the songs have not been changed at all. The only changes made here consist of occasional redivisions of the lyrics' original line structures, and the addition of narrative punctuation.

My aim throughout has been to improve the clarity of the textual meaning of the songs for reading purposes. This marks a shift from the intention of the official transcriptions, which almost invariably appear without punctuation, except for occasional commas which reflect musical rather than narrative divisions.

Naturally, then, this edition is not definitive, but is my interpretive representation of the original material. Furthermore, this edition reflects my own conviction that the song-lyrics of Kate Bush consist, for the most part, of narrative rather than lyrical poetry-- that they tend to "tell a story," in other words, and that they can therefore be better understood in the context of narrative prose.

In deference to tradition, however, and to the poetic language which Kate frequently uses, I have retained the convention of setting the words out in poetic form, beginning each line with a capital letter. In addition, I have retained many of the original divisions between verses and choruses with which the songs were first introduced in the official editions. Here again, however, I have tried to make additional distinctions between the first verses; subsequent (often extended or altered) verses; bridges; and choruses or refrains, separating these by means of blank lines between each section. Also, all repeated choruses and refrains are presented completely, rather than simply being referred to as "Repeat Chorus".

The lyrics for the song Houdini typify the problems which Kate's song-structures pose for the transcriber who tries to present the words apart from their musical context. Contrary to the indications given in the official transcription of the lyrics for Houdini, the song does not return to its original verse structure following the first chorus. The "second verse" is greatly extended and takes an entirely new melodic turn. In the present edition the song's lyrics are presented in conventional stanzas which are based on the music's basic metre, but these should not be taken as representations of the song's melodic design, which sometimes takes a very different form than the verses' and choruses' structure.

A few further notes: First, in an effort to avoid interrupting the narrative flow of the lyrics, I have eliminated explicit references to "Chorus", "Refrain", etc. Instead, I have indicated the shifts between verses, bridges and choruses by means of successive indentations. Second, where lines are clearly understood to be the words of a distinct character other than the narrator, I have sometimes presented those lines in quotations. (In fact, a large number of the songs consist of dialogues between different characters, but I have avoided the punctuation of these dialogues with quotation marks in most cases because the give and take between the various characters is not always clear.)

Third, spoken-word passages (such as the long monologue about nuclear explosions in the middle of Breathing, for example) are represented in indented quotes.

Finally, a word or two on the "new" songs. I am referring to some twenty-two "demo" recordings which Kate made prior to her signing with EMI in 1976. At this point at least two bootleggers are busy peddling illegal copies of a tape which Kate apparently made on her own, sometime between 1972 and 1977, but probably in 1976 or 1977. Since it is inevitable that many fans of Kate's music now have or soon will have copies of these recordings, I have decided to include the lyrics of those songs in this edition, even though I know that they have never been officially published. Indeed, Kate herself has so far not even acknowledged the existence of these twenty-two songs. The emergence of these songs has presented me with a very difficult moral dilemma, and I have no confidence that in sharing the lyrics (insofar as I have been able to decipher them) with other fans here, I am doing the "right" thing. I have had to weigh Kate's right to privacy against several other factors: first, the sheer, ineluctable power of the songs themselves; second, the unfairness of my keeping my knowledge of these songs secret from other fans no less interested than myself; and most of all, the appalling alternative prospect of saying nothing and allowing bootleg merchandisers control the fans' information about (not to mention the market for) the songs. I dearly hope that Kate can forgive me for my decision, and that she will understand that my inclusion of these unpublished lyrics here is motivated above all by a deep love of the songs.

I have based my transcriptions of these twenty-two songs (five of which are early versions of songs which later appeared on the first three of Kate's studio albums) solely on a study of a poor transfer from the original tapes. Consequently there are a number of words which I have been unable to make out properly, and those words are simply omitted (replaced by dashes). Perhaps some day Kate and EMI will decide to release an official version of these songs, and at that point we may learn not only the missing lyrics but also the official titles of the songs themselves.

For, of course, I do not really know what the official titles of these songs are. I have therefore decided to accord what seem to me likely titles to the songs, and to include them in this collection under those headings. However, I have also cross-referenced the songs by listing each song under the heading of their first lines. This way, anyone searching for a given song should be able to find my transcription by checking the reference under the first line of that song.

Andrew Marvick

The lyrics were html'ized by Chris Williams, with additional html by Vickie Mapes. The lyrics from The Red Shoes were taken from Wieland Willker's Moments, and the lyrics of the Cathy demos were taken from Wieland's Phoenix/Dreaming (which were originally taken from The Garden, and refined by many Love-Hounds.

*The Sensual World: The Music