Kate Bush – The Red Shoes

From 1982-89, Kate Bush released an extraordinary run of albums – The Dreaming, Hounds of Love, and The Sensual World. 1993’s follow up, The Red Shoes, suffers by comparison but pretty much anything would suffer by comparison. It’s still a great album, and one I’ve been revisiting because of Prince’s work on “Why Should I Love You?” I think of this album as a set of companion pieces, and “Why Should I Love You?” and “You’re The One” make for an incredible close to the record, jumping from the haphazard nature of love to a towering breakup song.

“Eat The Music” and “The Red Shoes” are musical twins, both moving swiftly in 6/8 time. While “Eat The Music” starts off as a song about male emotions that turns into an ode to tropical fruit, “The Red Shoes” takes a darker turn, recasting the Hans Christian Andersen tale via the Powell & Pressburger film. Out of any fairy tale, “The Red Shoes” has always been lodged most firmly in my memory, equal measures of mania and morality. It’s easy to imagine the story mapped on Bush’s career to that date, her videos depicting her as an avant-pop star subordinate to the feet of a ballerina.

The thing is, Bush pitches the song seductively enough that dancing yourself to death sounds like a pretty fun option, whispering “yeahhhh…” as her backing vocals propel the song and story forward. She’s always been the voice in the listener’s ear pulling their conscience one way or the other, and I don’t know that she’s ever relished playing the role of the devil more than this.

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