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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #29 - Waving

"I see it very visually. I would eventually love to see this as a piece of film..."

Prior to the release of Kate Bush's fifth album, Hounds Of Love, a lot of the publicity had been focussed on the fact that half the album would be a "concept piece". I wasn't entirely sure what that meant, being slightly too young to have experienced the heyday of prog rock, which had brought the concept of "concept" into being. I knew it meant that the tracks on side two were part of a whole piece, telling a single story. Apparently it was the tale of a woman lost at sea after some unknown disaster. At the start of The Ninth Wave we find her alone, floating in the cold water, on the edge of consciousness.


Let me be weak, let me sleep...

How casually we half-listen to those safety announcements on planes. There's a light and a whistle for attracting attention. We smile to ourselves; as if that tiny light could be seen, or that whistle be loud enough to be heard. But that's all we have. That tiny light on our face. We're so tired and so cold. Our imagination is playing tricks, but we won't join in. We'll just close our eyes...

Under the ice... moving... under ice... through water...

A child skates on a frozen pond, the sharp steel carving through the ice. What's that? Something's moving under the ice! It's a person... quick, someone help them. I can see their face... it's... it's... it can't be...

Bless me father, bless me father, for I have sinned...

We're snapped awake. We stand accused. Weren't we warned this would happen? Why didn't we listen? We're being pulled down, deeper. If we're innocent we'll drown, but if we're guilty...


Can't let you know what's been happenin', there's a ghost in our home...

I'm here. Watching. You must see me. Waiting. You have to talk to me. You have to help me. I need you. You have to...

Now is the place where the crossroads meet, will you look into the future...

Who is that old woman? Her face is so familiar. Why is she so angry with me? I'm killing her, she says. I'm killing my children yet to be. She's forcing me to fight. To swim. To breathe. To live...


Can't do anything, just watch them swing with the wind out to sea...

I'm still here. It's just me and the elements. Not sure I can do this much longer. There's something in the sky, so bright. Is it getting closer? I'll just close my eyes. It's still there. I'm so cold. I'll just close my eyes. There's a storm coming. I'll just rest my eyes. Why did I go?

Do you know what? I love you better now...

What would I do if given a second chance at life? Is this what is happening... is this the end? Or a new beginning...


It only took that first listen to understand. Kate had created a whole life in less than half-an-hour of music. It was a fully-realised tale, like a motion picture for the ears. You could taste the ambition and the painstaking craft in every track, but nothing felt forced, it flowed like water. Wave after wave, each mightier than the last.


Back in 1985 Kate wanted to make a film of The Ninth Wave, she saw the piece very visually. How far those ideas progressed to reality, we'll never know. But now, perhaps, we will finally get to see Kate's visualisation of The Ninth Wave. The only officially confirmed information about the forthcoming live shows, is that part of it is centred around this piece. We've heard the rumours about filming in a water tank. The very title of the show, Before The Dawn, is suggestive of peril and rescue: it's always darkest...

29 years later, The Ninth Wave is about to come crashing down on our heads once more.



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