Pull Out The Pin

Song written by Kate Bush. Originally released on her fourth album The Dreaming. The lyric of the song was based on a documentary about the war in Vietnam and describes soldiers of the Vietcong literally sniffing out their American opponents before killing them.

Kate about 'Pull Out The Pin'

We sat in front of the speakers trying to focus on the picture - a green forest, humid and pulsating with life. We are looking at the Americans from the Vietnamese point of view and, almost like a camera, we start in wide shot. 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 stale sweat. Take the camera in even closer, and we find a solitary soldier, perhaps the one I have singled out. Sometimes a Vietnamese would track a soldier for days and follow him, until he eventually took him. This soldier is under a tree, dozing with a faint smile and a radio by his side. It's a small transistor radio out of which cries an electric guitar. I'd swear it was being played by Brian Bath, but how could that be, way out here on our stereo screen. I pop the silver Buddha that I wear around my neck into my mouth, securing my lips around his little metal body. I move towards the sleeping man. A helicopter soars overhead, he wakes up, and as he looks me in the eyes I relate to him as I would to a helpless stranger. Has he a family and a lady waiting for him at home, somewhere beyond the Chinese drums and the double bass that stalks like a wild cat through bamboo? The moving pictures freeze-frame and fade - someone stopped the multi-track, there's more overdubs to do. (Kate Bush Club newsletter, October 1982)

I saw this incredible documentary by this Australian cameraman who went on the front line in Vietnam, filming from the Vietnamese point of view, so it was very biased against the Americans. He said it really changed him, because until you live on their level like that, when it's complete survival, you don't know what it's about. He's never been the same since, because it's so devastating, people dying all the time.
The way he portrayed the Vietnamese was as this really crafted, beautiful race. The Americans were these big, fat, pink, smelly things who the Vietnamese could smell coming for miles because of the tobacco and cologne. It was devastating, because you got the impression that the Americans were so heavy and awkward, and the Vietnamese were so beautiful and all getting wiped out. They wore a little silver Buddha on a chain around their neck and when they went into action they'd pop it into their mouth, so if they died they'd have Buddha on their lips. I wanted to write a song that could somehow convey the whole thing, so we set it in the jungle and had helicopters, crickets and little Balinese frogs. (Kris Needs, 'Dream Time In The Bush'. Zigzag (UK), November 1982)

I saw a programme with a camera man on the front line in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were portrayed as being very craftful people who treated their fighting as an art. They could literally smell the Americans coming through the jungle. Their culture of Coke cans and ice creams actually made them smell. Anyway, I learnt that before the Vietnamese went into action they popped a little silver Buddha in their mouths. I thought that was quite beautiful. Grotesque beauty attracts me. Negative images are often so interesting. (Robin Smith, 'Getting Down Under With Kate Bush', 1982)

Credits

Drums: Preston Heyman
String bass: Danny Thompson
Piano: Kate Bush
Electric Guitar: Brian Bath
Backing vocals: Dave Gilmour

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