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Babooshka

Babooshka - UK 7" single sleeve
Still from the music video of 'Babooshka'
Kate Bush performing 'Babooshka' during the Dr. Hook television special

Song written by Kate Bush. Originally released as a single on 27 June 1980 and subsequently included on the album Never For Ever. According to Kate, the song chronicles a wife's desire to test her husband's loyalty. To do so, she takes on the pseudonym of Babooshka and sends notes to her husband in the guise of a younger woman - something which she fears is the opposite of how her husband currently sees her. In her bitterness and paranoia, Babooshka arranges to meet her husband, who is attracted to the character who reminds him of his wife in earlier times. The relationship is ruined only because of her own paranoia.

Formats

'Babooshka' was released as a 7" single in various territories. The B-side was Ran Tan Waltz.

Versions

There are two versions of 'Babooshka': the single version which fades out and the album version which segues into the next track, Delius (Song Of Summer). Two demo versions from 1977 have also surfaced and were released on various bootleg cd's.

Music video

The music video depicts Bush beside a double bass (contrabass) which symbolises the husband, wearing a black bodysuit and a veil in her role as the embittered wife. This changes into an extravagant, mythlike and rather sparse "Russian" costume as her alter-ego, Babooshka. An illustration by Chris Achilleos was the basis for the costume.

Performances

Kate performed 'Babooshka' in various European programmes, including Collaro (France), Countdown (Netherlands) and Rock Pop (Germany). Her performance of the song in a Dr. Hook television special remains the first, and is memorable for the costume she is wearing: on her the right side she resembles a staid Victorian lady in mourning dress; on the left side a glittering, liberated young woman in a silvery jumpsuit, with bright lightning-streaks painted down the left side of her face. Her figure is lit so that only the "repressed" side of her costume is visible during the verses of the song, and mainly the "free" side during the choruses.

Cover versions

‘Babooshka’ has been covered by Miss Platnum, Oldelaf and the Plunging Necklines.

Kate about 'Babooshka'

Apparently it is grandmother, it's also a headdress that people wear. But when I wrote the song it was just a name that literally came into my mind, I've presumed I've got it from a fairy story I'd read when I was a child. And after having written the song a series of incredible coincidences happened where I'd turned on the television and there was Donald Swan singing about Babooshka. So I thought, "Well, there's got to be someone who's actually called Babooshka." So I was looking through Radio Times and there, another coincidence, there was an opera called Babooshka. Apparently she was the lady that the three kings went to see because the star stopped over her house and they thought "Jesus is in there".' So they went in and he wasn't. And they wouldn't let her come with them to find the baby and she spent the rest of her life looking for him and she never found him. And also a friend of mine had a cat called Babooshka. So these really extraordinary things that kept coming up when in fact it was just a name that came into my head at the time purely because it fitted. (Peter Powell interview, Radio 1 (UK), 11 October 1980)

I love the melody line of the bass guitar on this song. We got through a lot of boxes of broken crockery to get the right sound at the end - the canteen ladies were not impressed.

Highest chart positions

Australia: 2
France: 5
Germany: 14
Ireland: 5
israel: 5
Italy: 5
Netherlands: 15
New Zealand: 8
Norway: 4
UK: 5

Credits

Drums: Stuart Elliott
Electric bass: John Giblin
Fender Rhodes: Max Middleton
Balalaika, Backing vocals: Paddy Bush
Electric guitars: Brian Bath, Alan Murphy
Backing vocals: Gary Hurst

References: 

Uncanny how she reminds him of his little lady
Capacity to give him all he needs