Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Waking the Witch - Kate Bush at Her Most Terrifying

In "Waking the Witch," a frenzy of activity transcends. In the 17th century, women were routinely tried for "witchcraft." During the Salem Witch Trials, 19 women were hung, and one man; Giles Corey, was pressed to death under a door with increasingly more weight added. His dying words: "More weight." The test to determine if a woman was a witch was to throw her into the water. Witches float while the innocent sink and drown. Here, Kate is on trial and sinking. There is pious Latin chanting ("Spiritus sanctus, in nomine domini") and the voice of the Inquisitor: "What is it, child?"/ "Bless me, father, bless me, father, for I have sinned. UHN! Help me, listen to me, listen to me, tell them baby! UHN! Help me baby, talk to them!"/ Inquisitor: "I question your innocence!"

"There's a stone around my leg."
Inquisitor: "What say you, good people?"
"Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!"

"Waking the witch," with its jarring, unnerving stutter, a frightening electronics glitch, is a truly terrifying exploration of sound and theme. Kate is persecuted and condemned to drown; there are no more choices. Fear, exhaustion, hallucination, crisis, revisiting the cause ("Under Ice"), revisiting the past, the human need to find oneself; the survival instinct trying to kick in, trying to surface through dreamwork: "Wake up! Pay Attention! Keep focused. We can make the Night! Attend to the Light! Listen to me!" But shock waves, weakness, disorientation plunge our heroine into Kafkaesque nightmare: her right to survive is on trial: will she sink or float, doomed either way.

Kate Performing "Waking the Witch" in 2014
The Exorcism and Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel fits here: "He, in that sign, the rebel powers/ Did, with their dragon prince, expel;/ And hurled them from the heavens' high towers,/ Down, like a thunderbolt, to hell."

Indeed, Kate at her most terrifying! "I think even though a lot of people say that the side is about someone drowning, it's much more about someone who's not drowning, and how they're there for the night in the water, being visited by their past, present and future to keep them awake, to keep them going through until the morning, until there, uh, there's hope." "Waking the Witch" can be seen as aa battle between Thanatos (death instinct) and Eros (life instinct). The helicopter that comes at the end of this particular hallucination holds a man who simply tells her absurdly to get out of the water. If only she could; is it that easy?* Subconsciously she hears the the helicopter and Eros kicks in, reminding her to focus on getting out alive! 
*An aside: "I couldn't get a helicopter anywhere and in the end I asked permission to use the helicopter from The Wall from The Floyd. It was the best helicopter I'd heard for years [laughs]"