Song written by Kate Bush. It was dedicated to Bill Duffield. The phrase 'Put out the Light, then put out the light' comes from Shakespeare's Othello, in the scene just before Othello kills Desdemona. The song mentions the names of deceased musicians, in the following order: Minnie Riperton, Keith Moon, Sid Vicious, Buddy Holly and Sandy Denny.
The album version is the only officially released version of the song. However, in 2010 a demo version has surfaced on YouTube.
Kate debuted the song on November 18, 1979 during a concert at the Royal Albert Hall, celebrating 75 years of the London Symphony Orchestra. This was the first and only performance of the song.
Kate about 'Blow Away (For Bill)'
So there's comfort for the guy in my band, as when he dies, he'll go "Hi, Jimi!" It's very tongue-in-cheek, but it's a great thought that if a musician dies, his soul will join all the other musicians and a poet will join all the Dylan Thomases and all that.
None of those people [who have had near-death experiences] are frightened by death anymore. It's almost something they're looking forward to. All of us have such a deep fear of death. It's the ultimate unknown, at the same time it's our ultimate purpose. That's what we're here for. So I thought this thing about the death-fear. I like to think I'm coming to terms with it, and other people are too. The song was really written after someone very special died.
Although the song had been formulating before and had to be written as a comfort to those people who are afraid of dying, there was also this idea of the music, energies in us that aren't physical: art, the love in people. It can't die, because where does it go? It seems really that music could carry on in radio form, radio waves... There are people who swear they can pick up symphonies from Chopin, Schubert. We're really transient, everything to do with us is transient, except for these non-physical things that we don't even control... (Kris Needs, 'Lassie'. Zigzag (UK), November 1985)
Drums, percussion: Preston Heyman
Fretless bass: Del Palmer
Fender Rhodes: Max Middleton
Acoustic guitar: Brian Bath
String arrangement: Max Middleton
Strings: Martin Ford Orchestra
- Graeme Thomson, Under The Ivy: The Life & Music Of Kate Bush, cop. 2012. ISBN 9781780381466