Happy birthday to one of Kate Bush’s best albums. The Sensual World is now 25 years old.
In October 1989, I was a senior in high school and just starting to get to know Kate Bush’s music. I remember very well when her album, The Sensual World was released. As a budding admirer of her work, I wanted to have it. For Christmas that year, my then boyfriend, Paul, bought me the album on cassette. I listened to it all the time and bought more of Kate Bush’s music, until I had all of her albums and most of the EPs and imports. The Sensual World remains a favorite. I have since replaced the cassette with something more permanent so I can keep listening to this album for another 25 years.
The title track of The Sensual World, immortalized in an official video. This song’s raw sensuality immediately captured my attention. For many years, it was my favorite on this album.
I loved every song on that album, especially the ones that featured backing vocals by the amazing Trio Bulgarka, three Bulgarian women whose harmonies sound almost primal. They offered an amazing texture to Kate Bush’s sophisticated lyrics and fascinating melodies. You can hear their wild voices on several songs on The Sensual World. In 1996, I visited Bulgaria and ended up buying a cassette by Trio Bulgarka, which exposed me to more of their incredible sound. I have Kate Bush to thank for expanding my musical world.
“Deeper Understanding” is an incredible song, especially as Bush sings about treating her computer like a friend. I didn’t own a computer in 1989, but in 2014, my computer is my best friend. Trio Bulgarka sings on the chorus.
Another popular song from The Sensual World is “Love and Anger”. It was not one of my favorites when I first heard it, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to really appreciate the lyrics and the song’s amazing energy.
Love and Anger is a genius song featuring David Gilmour of Pink Floyd on guitar.
I was more partial to the very moving song, “Never Be Mine”, which no doubt appealed to my moody teenage sensibilities. This is another song that makes great use of Trio Bulgarka’s amazing sound as the song intensifies with emotion. This is a song made for drama kings and queens… and anyone who just wants to explore the landscape of their feelings.
Fan created video of “Never Be Mine”.
But perhaps the best known and most loved song from The Sensual World is Kate Bush’s masterpiece, “This Woman’s Work”. There is something unspeakably gorgeous and holy about this song. Sadly, it was used in a scene on 7th Heaven when a character gave birth. The scene was supposed to be reverent and holy, showing the miracle of childbirth. But if you listen to this song and focus on the lyrics, it’s not a happy song. It’s a song about grief.
This song is often used in scenes about childbirth, but to me it’s a very sad song about loss and trying to be strong when strength eludes you.
As I sit here on a rainy Friday morning and listen to The Sensual World 25 years after it was released, I am amazed by how timeless it is. I have loved most of Kate Bush’s work following The Sensual World, particularly Aerial, which she released to much fanfare in 2005. This album still ranks among her best in my view. There’s not a weak song on it. Listening to The Sensual World makes me think and gives me hope and faith. It also makes me miss the days when popular music was more authentic.