‘Sat In Your Lap’ is a song written by Kate Bush. It was released as a single on 21 June 1981, and subsequently included on Kate’s fourth album The Dreaming.

The lyrics of the song deal with humanity’s endless search for knowledge, which is often limited by unwillingness to devote the effort necessary to attain it. Musically, it was faster and more percussive than Bush’s previous releases.


‘Sat In Your Lap’ was released as a 7″ single only. As with subsequent singles from the album, a 12″ single was planned but was eventually withdrawn. The B-side to the single was Lord Of The Reedy River.


Two versions of Sat In Your Lap were released officially: the single version and the album version. Kate Bush stated in an early interview that the single version was remixed slightly for inclusion on The Dreaming. The vocals were raised higher and the backing track altered to fit in better with the overall feel of the album. In recent years a demo version of ‘Sat In Your Lap’ has appeared on the internet.

Music video

According to Kate, “The video was filmed over two days, one part at a video studio, the other at the audio studios. The former provided the quick, easy technical sides to be performed, the latter provided the space and presence. The large parquet floor was to be a feature, and Abbey Road’s past, full of dancing and singing spirits, was to be conjured up in the present day by tapping feet to the sound of jungle drums – only to be turned into past again through the wonder of video-tape. The shots were sorted into a logical order: all long shots were audio studio, all others were video studio. A storyboard was drawn up and was very closely worked to, being hung on the wall on days of shootings. The editing was a long, difficult job, as it was comprised of many sections which had to be edited together (just like the big musical one). The editor worked all day and into the next morning with great skill and patience, and only when someone told us did we find out it had been his birthday and he’d worked it all away. One of the exciting things about making the video was the “accessories” we used, such as the lovely costumes and props. The jerk-jacket which we used in ‘Army Dreamers’ was used again for a short sequence, and although there’s a silver wire, it feels like flying. Out of the harness and into the light of a timeless tunnel, as a little magician’s box springs to life and the room is filled with laser and skaters.”

Cover versions

‘Sat In Your Lap’ was covered by Baby Bushka, Gold Star Band, Goodknight Productions, G√∂teborgs Symfoniker, The Kate Bush Experience, Yuri Kono, Korean Jeans, Tony Reed and Violet.

Critical response

When ‘Sat In Your Lap’ was released, it was played on BBC Radio 1’s record review show Roundtable three days before it was released. Guests David Grant and Rick Wakeman were well impressed.

Best record I’ve heard since ‘Ashes To Ashes’, sticks out like a sore thumb. Wonderful, it’s wonderful. It’s got everything in it. I don’t buy singles, but I’ll buy this… a massive hit.

Rick Wakeman, Roundtable, BBC Radio 1, 19 June 1981

Kate about ‘Sat In Your Lap’

I already had the piano patterns, but they didn’t turn into a song until the night after I’d been to see a Stevie Wonder gig. Inspired by the feeling of his music, I set a rhythm on theRolandand worked in the piano riff to the high-hat and snare. I now had a verse and a tune to go over it but only a few lyrics like “I see the people working”, “I want to be a lawyer,” and “I want to be a scholar,” so the rest of the lyrics became “na-na-na”‘ or words that happened to come into my head. I had some chords for the chorus with the idea of a vocal being ad-libbed later. The rhythm box and piano were put down, and then we recorded the backing vocals. “Some say that knowledge is…” Next we put down the lead vocal in the verses and spent a few minutes getting some lines worked out before recording the chorus voice. I saw this vocal being sung from high on a hill on a windy day. The fool on the hill, the king of the castle… “I must admit, just when I think I’m king.”
The idea of the demos was to try and put everything down as quickly as possible. Next came the brass. The CS80 is still my favourite synthesizer next to the Fairlight, and as it was all that was available at the time, I started to find a brass sound. In minutes I found a brass section starting to happen, and I worked out an arrangement. We put the brass down and we were ready to mix the demo.
I was never to get that CS80 brass to sound the same again – it’s always the way. At The Townhouse the same approach was taken to record the master of the track. We put down a track of the rhythm box to be replaced by drums, recording the piano at the same time. As I was producing, I would ask the engineer to put the piano sound on tape so I could refer to that for required changes. This was the quickest of all the tracks to be completed, and was also one of the few songs to remain contained on one twenty-four track tape instead of two!

Kate Bush Club newsletter, October 1982

‘Sat In Your Lap’ is very much a search for knowledge. And about the kind of people who really want to have knowledge but can’t be bothered to do the things that they should in order to get it. So they’re sitting there saying how nice it would be to have this or to do that without really desiring to do the things it takes you to get it. And also the more you learn the more ignorant you realize you are and that you get over one wall to find an even bigger one. [Laughs]

Interview by J.J. Jackson for MTV, 1985

Highest chart positions

Australia: 93
Ireland: 18
Netherlands: 32
UK: 11


I see the people working,
And see it working for them
And so I want to join in,
But then I find it hurts me

Some say that knowledge is something sat in your lap
Some say that knowledge is something that you never have

I see the people happy,
So can it happen for me?
‘Cause when I am unhappy,
There’s nothing that can move me

Some say that knowledge is something that you never have
Some say that knowledge is something sat in your lap
Some say that heaven is hell
Some say that hell is heaven

I must admit, just when I think I’m king,
(I just begin.)
Just when I think I’m king, I must admit,
(I just begin.)
Just when I think I’m king,
(I just begin.)

I’ve been doing it for years
My goal is moving near
It says, “Look! I’m over here”
Then it up and disappears

Some say that knowledge is something sat in your lap
Some say that knowledge is ho-ho-ho-ho

I want to be a lawyer
I want to be a scholar
But I really can’t be bothered
Ooh, just gimme it quick, gimme it, gimme gimme gimme gimme!

Some say that knowledge is ho ho ho
Some say that knowledge is ho ho ho
Some say that heaven is hell
Some say that hell is heaven

I must admit, just when I think I’m king,
(I just begin.)
Just when I think I’m king, I must admit,
(I just begin.)
Just when I think everything’s going great,
(I just begin,)
Hey, I get the break,
Hey, I’m gonna take it all–
(I just begin.)
When I’m king–
(just begin)

In my dome of ivory
A home of activity
I want the answers quickly
But I don’t have no energy
I hold a cup of wisdom
But there is nothing within
My cup, she never overfloweth
And ’tis I that moan- and groaneth

Some grey and white matter
“Give me the karma, mama!”
I’m coming up the ladder,
“A jet to Mecca,”
I’m coming up the ladder,
“Tibet or Jeddah,
Up the ladder…
“To Salisbury,
A monastery,
The longest journey,
Across the desert,
Across the weather,
Across the elements,
Across the water!”


Drums: Preston Heyman
Bass: Jimmy Bain
Piano & Fairlight: Kate Bush
Sticks: Paddy Bush & Preston Heyman
Backing vocals: Ian Bairnson, Gary Hurst, Stewart Arnold, Paddy Bush
CMI Trumpet Section: Geoff Downes