The Ninth Wave – Kate Bush

August 27th, 2014

The Ninth Wave – Kate Bush

After 35 years keeping a low profile, Kate Bush, is performing a series of live shows in London this week. This is only the second time in her glorious career that she has toured and I thought this momentous occasion should be celebrated on my blog.

You will recall in past blogs, that I’ve railed against aging rock stars well past their glory days – embarking on a comeback tour and singing the oldies and not anything new. Well if anyone gets a free pass from me – it’s Kate Bush. I mean look what she got from old Liz! (short for lizard some might joke!) CBE Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire


Not that she needs a free pass as she continues to create new music and is rumored to be releasing a new album this winter.

In my mind the greatest thing about Kate Bush is her demure defiance and courage to create the way she wants and not pander to the whims of record company execs or the current music consumption trends of the public. Case in point is “ The Hounds of Love “ album with two distinct sides, side A featured radio friendly hits and side B was in essence a concept album or in this case half album with one track blending into the next and all based on a central theme.

Side B or “ The Ninth Wave “ is a series of songs as follows:

  1. And Dream of Sheep
  2. Under Ice
  3. Waking the Witch
  4. Watching You Without Me
  5. Jig of Life
  6. Hello Earth
  7.  The Morning Fog

Recorded in 1985 and featured the use of the Fairlight CMI synth, one of the first digital samplers, which was used to great effect in terms of sfx and musically.

“ The Ninth Wave “ – what the heck is it all about?

If you do a Google search – you won’t find much in terms of hard evidence but you will find lots of fan speculation and really – you deserve better than that. So here are some ideas that may shed some light on the meaning.

The Clues!

#1 The Mythology


“ In Irish mythology, the Ninth Wave is the barrier that separates the Earthly world from the Hy Breasil, or ‘otherworld’. The legends told of a mystical place that lay beyond the West Coast of Ireland, far out across the sea. This island was invisible to the naked human eye and only accessible if you managed to survive the mighty onslaught of the ninth wave.

The ‘ninth wave’ may simply be an old seafarer’s term for the phenomenon of the ‘giant wave’ – a rare occurrence, described as a huge wall of water that seemed to come out of nowhere on the back of a series of smaller waves [Fortean Times]. This wave would have had deadly consequences for a flimsy fishing vessel; hence the fear that such a wave could carry its victim off of the mortal plane. (The bodies of those lost at sea were very rarely recovered, so it’s possible that the idea that they had been swept away to some mysterious island would have provided comfort for families left behind.) “

#2 The Painting

from Wikipedia…

The Ninth Wave (Russian: Девятый вал) is the best known painting by RussianArmenianmarine painterIvan Aivazovsky; it was painted in 1850.[1][2]

It depicts a sea after a night storm and people facing death attempting to save themselves by clinging to debris from a wrecked ship. “


And the winner is…. well as a matter of fact they’re both correct. It took a bit of sleuthing but I finally found some excerpts from a 1992 BBC radio interview, Hounds of Love “ Classic Albums “ interview with Kate Bush. Although she never reveals how it happened, “ The Ninth Wave “ is in fact the story of a woman washed over board and lost at sea. This is by far my favorite piece of Kate Bush’s music and I find it not only cohesively interesting but so very cinematic. Unfortunately, I could not find all the songs in one video for you to enjoy. They exist but not for North Americans. What I want to do is go through all the tracks with brief explanations from Kate’s BBC interview which I will paraphrase. And I’ll just present partial lyrics to move things along.

And Dream of Sheep

Little light shining,
Little light will guide them to me.
My face is all lit up,
My face is all lit up.
If they find me racing white horses,
They’ll not take me for a buoy.

The little light refers to the beacon light on a life jacket. The victim is trying not to fall asleep, as she believes that if she does she’ll roll over and drown.

But try as she might, she does fall asleep and begins to dream…

Under Ice

There’s something moving
Under, under the ice,
Moving under ice,
Through water,
Trying to get out of the cold water.
“It’s me.”
Something, someone–help them.
“It’s me.”

What started out as an exciting adventure of skating on a frozen lake all alone has turned into a nightmare as she sees herself trapped beneath the ice. Adding fuel to the fire are voices from her family including the real voices of Kate’s father, brothers and a cameo from Robbie Coltrane. The helicopter in the song is the same one used on Pink Floyd’s “ The Wall “.

Waking the Witch

“What is it, child?”
“Bless me, father, bless me, father, for I have sinned.”
“Red, red roses!”
“Help me, listen to me!”
“Red, red rose!”
“I question your innocence!”
“Help this blackbird!”
“She’s a witch!”
“There’s a stone around my leg.”
“Uh! Damn you, woman!”
“Help this blackbird!
There’s a stone around my leg.”
“What say you, good people?”
“Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!”
“Help this blackbird!”
“I am responsible for your actions.”
“Not guilty!”
“Help this blackbird!”
“Wake (of) the witch!”
“Get out of the waves! Get out of the water!”

Still dreaming or hallucinating, she imagines being persecuted as a witch and put on trial. Will she sink or will she float?

Watching You Without Me

This one is quite simple as she visits her loved ones in spirit form.

Jig of Life

Sorry I could not find a video for this.

“And to your little boy and to your little girl,
And the one hand clapping:
Where on your palm is my little line,
When you’re written in mine
As an old memory?
Ooh, na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-
“Never, never say goodbye
To my part of your life.
Oh no, no, no, no, no!
Never, never, never!
Never, never let me go!”
She said,
“C’mon and let me live, girl!’
(“C’mon and let me live!”)
She said,
“C’mon and let me live, girl!”
(“C’mon and let me live!”)

Still floating all alone on the vast sea, the victim is visited by her future self and given a glimpse of what her future holds in store. She now has a choice; give in to the sea and die or fight to live. The tempo and intensity of the music leaves little doubt as to her intension.

Hello Earth

Hello, earth.
Hello, earth.
With just one hand held up high
I can blot you out,
Out of sight.

A lullaby for the earth. The victim afloat on the endless ocean gazes up at the night stars and reverses the perspective. Now instead of being in awe of the vastness of the universe, she is awed by the beauty and specialness of the earth. Interestingly piece of trivia here in that the choral sections are from the film Nosferatu.

Morning Fog

Couldn’t find this one either

The light
Begin to bleed,
Begin to breathe,
Begin to speak.
D’you know what?
I love you better now.
I am falling
Like a stone,
Like a storm,
Being born again
Into the sweet morning fog.
D’you know what?
I love you better now.
I’m falling,
And I’d love to hold you know.
I’ll kiss the ground.
I’ll tell my mother,
I’ll tell my father,
I’ll tell my loved one,
I’ll tell my brothers
How much I love them.

The rescue and everything is light, positive and bright she is so grateful for all she has.

If you’re not deeply moved or impressed with the immense creativity of Kate Bush after listening to “ The Ninth Wave “ perhaps you should check your pulse. Her music is such a wonderful gift and what a rush to be there in the audience this week. But alas, I will make do with her recordings and the vivid imagery she has conjured in my minds eye.

And as an added bonus today, here is a link (thanks Colin) to the excellent BBC doc released this year

Inter-dimensional Music

August 20th, 2014

Inter-dimensional Music
Today’s odd audio blog is not musically or sound odd but it’s the subject matter that is out of the ordinary, Inter-Dimensional Music.

Just recently, my friend, mentor and sometime collaborator Dr. Jonni Gray

invited me to create a video trailer for the book she had written and was about to release. Having never created a book trailer before and not knowing anything abbot them – I naturally said yes!

The book, Conduit: A Love Story Before, During, & After Life, is about Jonni’s relationship with her son Connor. I have met Connor many times. Sometimes casually and sometimes in a group meditation setting and I thought we got along swimmingly (sounds better mocking a British accent). As he grew older, he dove into music making and it was fun to talk shop every now and then. And if you haven’t already figured it out from the book title – Connor is dead. He was killed while on an epic motorcycle trip by a driver that wasn’t  paying attention. Jonni and Connor’s relationship did not end when his physical body died but is as strong and vibrant as ever. Buy the book if I’ve tweaked your interest – you can learn more on Jonni’s website.

So back to the trailer. What a fantastic opportunity to flex all my creative muscles! Some sound editing, some original music, video editing, shooting and motion graphics and all in one 2-minute trailer. And what a treat working with Jonni! It’s so rare to find a director that can actually give direction, knows exactly what they want and can articulate those desires. So although I may have been the one behind the controls, ‘ Conduit “ is very much a collaboration.

I won’t go into the visuals or motion graphics as you can see them for yourself and as this is the odd audio blog – so I will talk about the music.

What does a composer create for a book about love that transcends time and dimension? Well nothing ordinary that’s for sure! When I am about to begin any project, I always ask myself, “ what does this project want me to do or what does it need from me? “ I feel it’s a mistake to go into a project and have a fixed idea of what you want to do as a creative person – no matter what your creative passion is. To be brutally honest, if you stay creatively rigid, you’re contribution to the project will be shite! (sounds best mocking an Irish accent)

Be like water “ has never been more true when it comes to creativity. You must go with the flow and let the flow flow through you.

So with “ Conduit “, I looked at all the visuals Jonni had provided, thought about Connor, thought about Jonni and thought about the concept behind the book.

Was there a commonality staring me in the face and smiling back at me? You bet! And once I recognized it, everything fell into place and I knew which way to go.

Connor was a free spirit on a motorcycle tour which had a loose itinerary but he was free to go where the wind blew. Jonni in her book describes how Connor helped her sleep the night of his crossing over – you’ll have to read the book for this one!

And the idea that a soul can cross dimension without the physical limitations of this dimension – like gravity.

So the commonality was “ floating “. And that’s what I was aiming for with the music. The sense of floating as a free spirit or a soul and the bells to remind us of this dimension. Remember I said things fell into place? Shortly after I started composing the floating music, Jonni sent me the clip of the soap bubbles! And after Jonni heard the music for the first time she mentioned that Connor loved the sound of bells.

And what better way to end today than with the “ Conduit “ trailer….


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