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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

50 Words For Kate: #36 - Waltzing

It's fair to say there aren't that many waltzes that make the top twenty. There's something about a 3/4 time signature, it harks back to a simpler time, suggesting romance and longing and love and loss. Kate Bush harnessed these traditions to create a waltz to lament the many young men who have died in service to their country.

Army Dreamers though is not about to be adopted as an anthem by the Royal British Legion. It is not told from the point of view of a grateful nation, drumming up feelings of patriotic pride. It is in the voice of a grieving mother, wondering whether she could have helped her son along another path, and possibly a different fate.

The song is the earliest example of Kate exploring her Irish heritage (her mother was from County Waterford), which would add such richness to some of her later work. She also sings the song in an Irish accent, though as a nod to the influence of traditional Irish music, not because the song is about Ireland.

The third and final single from Never For Ever, Kate made a memorable and moving appearance on German TV to promote the song in a routine that's become affectionately known as "Mrs Mopp".

It is a masterful piece of songwriting, with the lulling waltz sharply undercut by the sound of rifles being cocked and the shouts of a sergeant major. Without preaching or posturing, Kate showed us the very human cost of war.

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