Sammy the Seal

“Help me, darling, help me, please– take my shoes off and throw them in the lake”

In music videos, vinyl on Tuesday, 13 March, 2012 at 10:08


Song: Hounds Of Love
Artist: Kate Bush
Album: Hounds Of Love

Dramatic, confessional, incredibly forceful and strong. Not to start off-topic and negative, but there’s a cover by an Icelandic or Faroese singer, Eivør, that strips away most of the instrumentation, leaving a light, ethereal frame, and some vocal melodrama and histrionics. I’m all for creative interpretation, but it comes across pretty, nothing more. My problem is that the name of the song is the fucking “Hounds Of Love”. I am enrapt and ensnared in the tension created by the drums and cello– they’re almost violent. Of all the great elements on display here, I think they’re most essential, they make the song. They sync up perfectly with the imagery to create a palpable drama, evoking quite effectively a feeling of inexorable pursuit, and they don’t let up until the last second. There is no diverting bridge or passage for rest. However, I should not forget the strings that sweep over the top of it all. The song is firmly grounded by the rhythm, but the smooth, unbroken string melody that also runs start-to-finish lifts it up a bit from the earthy to the poetic. It’s aggressive and beautiful.

And I haven’t even gotten to Kate! Sure you could describe her vocals as melodramatic too, but the difference is hers are astonishingly liberating and entirely determined. She’s got her fair share of quirk, but man, is she on here. I would say she runs a very close second to the drums and cello, but it’s clear they need each other. By the lyrics, she obviously sees herself in an inferior, vulnerable position, but out loud, it’s a bit harder to tell. Actually, I can hear both sides. I hear simultaneously the weakness and helplessness, and the fearless and fervent confessions of such which strengthen her. It’s a hell of a dichotomy, and I don’t know how she does it. I suppose I’m a sucker for embracing one’s weakness and insecurity, I find that terribly attractive as a quality. I mean, when she sings “help me” or “hold me down” or the word “throw”, it’s The splendid, backing doo’s and oo’s, those are just icing.

The lyrics may seem kinda cheesy, about being afraid of love, but they always resonate with me. To me, it’s not so much fear of success/happiness or of the unknown, as of giving in and potentially giving up control. And even our narrator admits how immature and selfish it is. I never knew what the shoes and water imagery was all about, but only now do I read that once, perhaps apocryphally, the lady herself pointed out that if you take one step out on the water, you can always step back. Throwing her shoes out, two steps? It doesn’t seem like crazy talk anymore. This may be relatively obvious to some, but in english class, I always sucked at deciphering poetry. Now it’s even harder to pick out a favorite line. I don’t know what it is about the second verse, the one with the fox, I always found that imagery very sweet. I can just envision it, Kate and the little fox, little hearts beating fast.

“When I was a child running in the night
afraid of what might be
Hiding in the dark, hiding in the street
and of what was following me
Now hounds of love are hunting
I’ve always been a coward
And I don’t know what’s good for me
Oh here I go
It’s coming for me through the trees
Help me, someone
help me, please
Take my shoes off
and throw them in the lake
and I’ll be
two steps on the water
I found a fox caught by dogs
he let me take him in my hands
His little heart, it beats so fast
and I’m ashamed of running away
from nothing real, I just can’t deal with this
But I’m still afraid to be there
among your hounds of love
and feel your arms surround me
I’ve always been a coward
and never know what’s good for me
Oh here I go
Don’t let me go
Hold me down
It’s coming for me through the trees
Help me, darling, help me, please
Take my shoes off
and throw them in the lake
and I’ll be two steps on the water
I don’t know what’s good for me
I don’t know what’s good for me
I need love, love, love, love, love, yeah
Your love
Take your shoes off and throw them in the lake
Do you know what I really need
Do you know that I really need
I need love, love, love, love, love, yeah”

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