Kate Bush is gifted with a voice that will shake you to your core at all times. A celestial talent who can convey a range of emotions with her vocals that remains unmatched, ‘This Woman’s Work’ is a masterclass in vocal delivery, a true tearjerker that is the definition of timeless. It has become one of Bush’s most widely-recognised songs and arguably her only step into the mainstream.
In reality, Kate Bush is about as far away from being commercial as you can get. Given her legacy, there is an uncompromising greatness to her creativity, one that has seduced millions of fans and led to her achieve a level of success that even she didn’t dream of. The 1989 track ‘This Woman’s Work‘ remains one of the most outstanding examples of how Bush’s songwriting has the ability to tell a heart-wrenching story, one which few could ever pull-off. What sets the singer apart from her contemporaries is her immaculate voice, and there are few more captivating songs than this one show. When you hear it without the instrumentation, Bush’s vocals soar to staggering new heights.
‘This Woman’s Work’ was originally written for the Kevin Bacon starring comedy film She’s Having a Baby in 1988 and was later featured on Bush’s 1989 album The Sensual World. Astonishingly, the track only peaked at number 25 in the UK singles chart despite being one of Bush’s most intense and ethereal compositions and most of that relies on Bush’s vocal performance.
On the surface, the track doesn’t appear as though it works for a film of such a light-hearted nature, but somehow Bush’s magnificence manages to hook the listener into feeling emotionally invested in the story. The lyrics of ‘This Woman’s Work’ is about being forced to confront a sudden and frightening crisis during childbirth.
On reflection, Bush later told NME about the scene in which it featured in the film: “His wife is pregnant and it’s alright until they get to the hospital and the baby’s in the breach position. That’s the sequence I have to write the songs about and it’s really very moving, him in the waiting room, having flashbacks of his wife and him going for walks, decoration.” Not often expected to write to task, Bush’s lyricism shines in this position. “It’s exploring his sadness and guilt, suddenly it’s the point where he has to grow up. He’d been such a wally up to this point,” she added.
‘This Woman’s Work’ is a stand-out moment from her near faultless sixth-studio album The Sensual World and has become one of her most-loved tracks. Natasha Khan from Bat For Lashes once described the mercurial nature of the song better than anyone else, “I really thank Kate, because these touchstones like ‘This Woman’s Work’, that kind of song, it’s celebrating everything that’s so wonderful about being a woman, and being nurturing, and intuitive and emotional, and gentle and sensual, and just like really intimate.
“People don’t put their hearts on the line in that vulnerable way very much, and me, as an artist myself, it’s helped me to not be frightened, to show all, as much of my vulnerability as a woman as possible, and in that be powerful,” she added.
The vulnerability that you can hear in Bush’s voice when it has been isolated is spellbinding, and even by her lofty standards, it is breathtakingly beautiful. Take a few minutes out and inject some much needed Kate Bush into your life, below.