Kate Bush’s vocal range is that of legend. Her instinctual ability to reach and then manoeuvre notes from thin air into the hearts and minds of her audience is what has endeared her to an entire nation and beyond. There’s no song that Bush does this better on than her powerful ‘This Woman’s Work’. We look back at one special performance of the track on Wogan back in 1989.
The song was originally written for American film She’s Having a Baby in 1988 and was later released 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.
The lyric of ‘This Woman’s Work’ is about being forced to confront a sudden and frightening crisis during childbirth. Written for the movie She’s Having a Baby, director John Hughes expertly used the song during the film’s dramatic climax, when Jake (Kevin Bacon) learns that the lives of his wife, Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern), and their unborn child are in danger. The song plays to a seizing montage of happier times, flashbacks and dramatic moments and was written by Bush specifically for the scene from Jake’s viewpoint, even matching the words to the visuals which had already been filmed by the time Bush composed it.
The song for many people is a symphony of powerful emotions and intense notions all punctuated by Bush’s impeccable vocals. Her first notes, in particular, are arresting in their beauty. One performance, though recorded, where this powerful concoction of moving sonics and beautifully rendered emotions is at its best is Kate Bush’s performance on Wogan in 1989.
Wogan is a British television talk show which was broadcast on BBC1 from 1982 until 1992, presented by the loveable and charming host, the late, Terry Wogan. The show represented Wogan at the height of his powers, able to deliver the kind of genial talk show host frivolity that would leave many sedated and sated in equal measure.
A host of notable artists and personalities took to the show to chat with Terry, many of which became famous moments on British TV. Whether it was Rock Hudson, George Best, Fanny Craddock or David Bowie, most celebrities of the day found themselves on the couch with Wogan. But none of them could sing like Kate Bush.
Watch Kate Bush’s incredible performance of ‘This Woman’s Work’ on Wogan back in 1989