This song forms sort of a pair with “Top of the City.” “Constellation of the Heart” is a sort of extended metaphor using navigation to describe a desired love affair. One song has to be my least favorite song from any given artist and this is my least favorite song by Kate Bush. I find the music to be painfully dated and sort of surprisingly dull even for the time.
I still like it better than like half the rest of my library, so there’s that.
“Top of the City” has some really nice moments (I especially like the “its no good for you baby” sections). There’s heaven and hell references, building on the many direct references to religion on The Red Shoes.
The narrator is actually wanting to be on high so she can spy on her lover (former lover?) and his new paramour.
Again, the drums kind of get to me here. A little too hollow.
Official video featuring the wonderful Miranda Richardson:
The title track from The Red Shoes isn’t exactly like the movie or the story. While the titular shoes do, in fact, force the wearer to dance, in this version it reads as if the heroine is more innocent than the spoiled main character in the Hans Christen Anderson story.
I enjoy that this song does actually seem like a dance song – a traditional dance song more than a club song. Another album highlight.
The Red Shoes contains a whole lot of religious imagery. Indeed, the Hans Christen Anderson story from which the album derives its title is a bit of a morality tale itself. “The Song of Solomon” refers to The Song of Songs, a “celebration of sexual love”.
This is one of the songs Bush reworked on Director’s Cut:
That music video is sort of problematic. I didn’t see it when it was released and probably wouldn’t have noticed it at the time, but in 2016, wow, yeah, hmm.
I played “Eat The Music” all the time during my waning days as a college radio DJ on KTUH. Somehow, I totally forgot the song existed. Indeed, when I recently downloaded The Red Shoes and read the title I thought “what a great name for a song!” As soon as I heard it – I mean within the first second of listening to it – I went “holy shit, I used to love this song.”
The human mind is sometimes not a useful device for storage of memories.
Bush’s songs are, as I think we’ve established, very open about discussing sensuality and sexuality. I don’t find her songs to be exploiting sex so much as celebrating it – Bush is empowered and has agency in her songs. “Eat The Music” is about getting inside another person (with some distinct vagina imagery) and discovering how they really feel (in both the tactile and emotional meanings of that word). Its a great flirty, sexy song with just a little bit of an edge to it. One of her best.
Eric Clapton is featured on guitar and Gary Brooker of Procol Harum is featured on Hammond Organ on this track. You will immediately recognize their work if you’re familiar with those musicians.
“And So Is Love” is a low key second song on The Kick Inside – so low key that it didn’t stand out to be until a dozen or so listens and now its one of my favorite tracks on the record. Bush had gone through a break-up of a long term relationship before she recorded The Kick Inside, so its not a surprise that she wrote such a moving break up song. Clapton’s guitar in particular sounds like its crying for her – there’s a reason he remains one of our most respected guitarists.
The Red Shoes was released in November of 1993, which must have been my last year doing college radio. I didn’t recall having much exposure to it but, as it happens, there’s at least one song from the album that was a regular on my program (and I totally forgot I’d ever played it) and I recall this track. It was her last album of original music until Aerial. Bush was not satisfied with the digital recording process on this album and rerecorded a number of songs later on an album titled Director’s Cut. I’ve not listened to that album as of this writing.
Bush had a small army of musicians – including Prince, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker – perform on this album. The title of the album was, of course, from the Hans Christen Anderson story, but she was a little more inspired apparently by the 1948 film. While The Red Shoes sounds sort of dated now (it is definitely a product of 1993 – I remember thinking that this track sounded like a late 80′ Peter Gabriel song), there are some great songs on it. Prince’s contribution in particular (which we’ll get to) is fantastic early 90’s Prince.
The first single from The Red Shoes was Rubberband Girl, which is essentially a metaphor song about being flexible. It was a decent sized hit at the time but since this was perhaps at the start of my musical dark ages, I don’t recall hearing it on the radio at all.
Bush rerecorded this song in 2011 for her Director’s Cut album:
You’ll hear that it has a much more raw feeling – almost like late 70’s Bowie or Exile era Rolling Stones. It sounds a whole lot less dated. Her voice is further back in the mix, which makes it sound a little more jazzy to me.
The title track of The Kick Inside is a sung suicide note sung from a sister to her brother. She’s pregnant with his child and she’s killing herself to spare him the shame of incest. Its based on a folk song called Lucy Wan:
In “The Kick Inside,” Bush’s narrator refers to the folk song but is essentially making her own choice (in the folk song, the brother strikes her dead with his sword). Bush’s early version of this song was titled “The Ballad of Lizie Wan”. This song more explicitly references the folk song, though the story is still Bush’s version.
Bush influenced hundreds of artists that have become popular since – notably Joanna Newsom and The Decemberists, both of whom are well represented in my iTunes library. Lyrically, musically and vocally this song in specific (and The Kick Inside in general) seem to be especially influential.