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Grandmother’s test

Kate Bush – Babooshka

And how she was before the years flew by
And how she was when she was beautiful
She signed the letter
All yours
Babooshka, babooshka, babooshka ja, ja
#KateBush #Babooshka

We all agree: there are timeless artists and songs. And personally, I am also convinced that some of them really came from the future. Songs that were written to be rediscovered years and years later, perhaps, and this also was a talent of the artists of the 80s.

Today we go back to the end of June 1980, no less. To give you an idea, the Moscow Olympics were about to begin, there was no MTV, Prince Charles and Lady Diana were engaged, Jimmy Carter was President of the United States. But in England there is already a singer who shoots a video destined to make history, with a very profound song that naturally remained in the memories of the 80s.

Today, we all agree that Kate Bush is one of the most refined and fascinating artists of that period. She has always had that aura of mystery and that genius touch that made her truly unreachable, a woman truly from another planet. After all, she had made her debut only two years earlier with an incredible song, Wuthering Heights, directly inspired by Emily Brontë’s masterpiece. Perhaps only Sade, in a very different way, was able in the 80s to create such a unique and unreachable character.

Kate tells us of a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the story of a woman no longer young who decides to test her husband’s fidelity. In particular, she begins to send him scented letters, to which her husband replies. She goes further, and arranges a meeting which she introduces herself in disguise. The husband sees in this new woman the wife of the past years, with the passion and resourcefulness he had loved in his wife, and in a sense he falls in love with her again, and gives in to temptation precisely because this woman is his wife in the past.

In essence, the woman jeopardizes her marriage out of insecurity, reaching the paradox that her husband could also betray her, but with herself. A phenomenal narrative, enhanced by a masterful video. Kate Bush appears in two versions: the first of her shows us a woman in a black bodysuit and covered with a veil, which probably represent the desire to hide the signs of aging on her body. The woman is near a double bass, which could represent the figure of her husband, now rigid in a relationship that perhaps feels the weight of the years.

But then comes the second woman, Babooshka, dressed as a kind of post-atomic warrior (we are five years before the Mad Max saga of We don’t need another hero), armed with a sword and overwhelming in her femininity. Lyrics tell us the woman wrote the letters to her husband, and signed them with this name, Babooshka. Interesting, because in Russian bàbooshka (with the accent on “a”, not on “oo”) means “grandmother”, and therefore one might think that Babooshka is the older woman, rather than the young one.

Actually Kate explained that she did not know what that word meant in Russian, but due to a strange twist of fate she met that name several times in a few days: she heard a song with that title, then she knew about an opera with that title, and she even discovered that one of his friends had a cat with that very name! Kate Bush was a determined fatalist, enough to have titled a song “Strange phenomena”, and therefore she interpreted this coincidence as a clear sign: that was the name to use in the song. She probably deliberately shifted the accent to sort of incorporate her surname into the girl’s name (Ba-Bùsh-ka).

Is there a deliberate reference to the Russian world? Reading the text it would not seem so, but certainly Kate was able, many years in advance, to interpret that fascinating sense of mystery and anguish that the Soviet Union generated in Westerners in those years. The same sentiment that we will find years later in Sting’s Russians, for example, or in Elton John’s Nikita. The name Babooshka made the woman exotic, mysterious and perhaps even a little dangerous.

In short, Kate Bush’s genius and creativity were already truly out of time. She is certainly a more demanding artist than others, but with a truly unreachable talent!

Kate Bush on Wikipedia

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