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Music

The classic song Kate Bush wrote about the Vietnam war

@josephtaysom

Inspiration for songs can arrive from anywhere, and some artists can transform a trivial moment into a work of art. However, Kate Bush has never dealt with those kinds of matters. The exalted talent wasn’t afraid of letting the most difficult topics become her muse. In one case, she even used the Vietnam war to help her forge a classic track.

Bush is a superstar like no other. Bursting onto the music scene during the 1970s as a prodigal genius with a voice sculpted from above, she immediately emerged as a timeless master, despite only being in her teens. From the moment she made her dramatic arrival, it was clear as day that Bush made principled decisions and was never scared to push herself creatively; she has largely operated in a sphere outside of the mainstream.

Although Bush may have arrived as a pop star for the ages, she soon gravitated towards being wholly inimitable as her modus operandi. Her instincts have always been incomparable to anybody else. Every facet of her creativity, such as her imperial songwriting to her broad span of influences, made Kate Bush separated from your average pop star.

Her 1982 track ‘Pull Out The Pin’ is a glowing example of Bush’s divine artistry and how she could use even the most difficult topic to fuel her songwriting. Bush was powerfully struck by a documentary she watched that depicted the Vietnam conflict from the unfamiliar perspective of the Viet Cong.

“There was this fantastic TV documentary about a cameraman who was on the front lines,” she told Keyboard in 1985. “He was a brilliant cameraman, and he was so well-trained a technician that he kept filming things no matter how he was feeling about it at the time.

“Some of the stuff he was shooting was really disturbing. Some of these Vietnamese guys would just come in, and they were sort of dying in mid-air. And he’d just keep on filming.”

After seeing the documentary, she re-watched it in the studio and allowed the images to light up her imagination which ended up giving ‘Pull Out The Pin’ an atmospherical sense of dread. “We sat in front of the speakers trying to focus on the picture – a green forest, humid and pulsating with life,” she recalled. “We are looking at the Americans from the Vietnamese point of view, and almost like a camera, we start in wide shot.”

Bush continued: “Right in the distance, you can see the trees moving, smoke and sounds drifting our way… sounds like a radio. Closer in with the camera, and you can catch glimpses of their pink skin. We can smell them for miles with their sickly cologne, American tobacco and their stale sweat.”

The emotion which fills Bush’s voice is harrowing, and the whole track has a daunting sense to it that is deliberately unnerving. Additionally, the humanising topic of the song proves that Bush’s empathy kicked in, and the film touched her on a deeply profound level. She managed to fluently translate the visceral reaction she felt from viewing the doc on the formidable and unsettling ‘Pull Out The Pin’.