Song written by Kate Bush. Originally released on her fourth album The Dreaming. The song lyrics are about seeing something one really wants (God in this case), then not being able to see or experience it ever again. The "gaffa" of the title and chorus refers to gaffer tape, the strong matte black tape used by technicians in the film and concert industries.
'Suspended In Gaffa' was released as a single on the European mainland only. In the UK There Goes A Tenner was released instead. On the B-side the song Ne T'enfuis Pas appeared, except in France where the record company opted for Dreamtime instead.
A music video was produced for the song, which features Bush performing an interpretive dance in what appears to be a barn.
Kate wrote about the filming of this music video: "The video of 'Suspended in Gaffa' was to be done as simply and quickly as possible; as always with very little time to complete it in, the simpler the better. I saw it as being the return to simplicity, a light-hearted dance routine, no extras, no complicated special effects. As we were all so pleased with the previous sets - put together under the supervision of a very clever man, Steve Hopkins - we asked him to build another, this time an old barn with large gaps in the walls where we could allow the light to streak through. We used a combination of natural and artificial light, and everyone was thrilled with the sense of realism that the set achieved. Steve brought in huge branches of trees that were behind the gaps in the set, and a dedicated helper called 'Podge' sat up on a piece of scaffolding for six hours and enthusiastically shook a piece of tree to make the light move and dance as if motivated by a furtive wind. The video did remain uncomplicated - just a few effects and just one extra: but a very special. one. There is one section where a child's voice says, 'Mother, where are the angels? I'm scared of the changes.' And there was only one person that could be addressed to - my mother. When I asked her to appear in the section, contrary to my concern about her nerves, she was more than obliging and said, 'Yes'. She was definitely the star of the day, and waited patiently hour after hour as we slowly moved through the bulk of the shooting to eventually reach her debut. I was amazed at her grace and stamina: as all of us began to wane and wilt, my mother continued to blossom and glow, and her only worries were getting back home in time to get dinner and hoping she would not succumb to an attack of giggles during the vital moments of being on screen. She needn't have worried, for she is a natural professional, a real star and my favourite mum."
'Suspended In Gaffa' was covered by Theo Bleckmann, My Scarlet Life, Poppet and Rhythm & Dreaming.
Kate about 'Suspended In Gaffa'
Whenever I've sung this song I've hoped that my breath would hold out for the first few phrases, as there is no gap to breathe in. When I wrote this track the words came at the same time, and this is one of the few songs where the lyrics were complete at such an early stage. The idea of the song is that of being given a glimpse of 'God' - something that we dearly want - but being told that unless we work for it, we will never see it again, and even then, we might not be worthy of it. Of course, everybody wants the reward without the toil, so people try to find a way out of the hard work, still hoping to claim the prize, but such is not the case. The choruses are meant to express the feeling of entering timelessness as you become ready for the experience, but only when you are ready. (Kate Bush Club newsletter, October 1982)
I could explain some of it, if you want me to: Suspended in Gaffa is reasonably autobiographical, which most of my songs aren’t. It’s about seeing something that you want–on any level–and not being able to get that thing unless you work hard and in the right way towards it. When I do that I become aware of so many obstacles, and then I want the thing without the work. And then when you achieve it you enter…a different level–everything will slightly change. It’s like going into a time warp which otherwise wouldn’t have existed. (Richard Cook, 'My music sophisticated?...'. NME (UK), October 1982)
'Suspended In Gaffa' is, I suppose, similar in some ways to 'Sat In Your Lap' - the idea of someone seeking something, wanting something. I was brought up as a Roman Catholic and had the imagery of purgatory and of the idea that when you were taken there that you would be given a glimpse of God and then you wouldn't see him again until you were let into heaven. And we were told that in Hell it was even worse because you got to see God but then you knew that you would never see him again. And it's sorta using that as the parallel. And the idea of seeing something incredibly beautiful, having a religious experience as such, but not being able to get back there. And it was playing musically with the idea of the verses being sorta real time and someone happily jumping through life [Makes happy motion with head] and then you hit the chorus and it like everything sorta goes into slow mo and they're reaching [Makes slow reaching motion with arm] for that thing that they want and they can't get there. [Laughs] (Interview for MTV, November 1985)
Drums, sticks: Stuart Elliott
Bass: Del Palmer
Piano: Kate Bush
Strings: Paddy Bush, Kate Bush
Mandolins: Paddy Bush
Synclavier: Dave Lawson