Long before Stranger Things (re)popularized Running up that Hill, by Kate Bush, there is a song that she often emotes, whether in movies or series: This Woman’s Work. It appears in the film The Mother as well as in A Man Called Otto, and it was featured in the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale series too. It is one of the most beautiful compositions in the singer’s rich repertoire
First played in John Hughes‘ 1988 romantic comedy She’s Having a Baby, it’s yet another first-person song that is so characteristic of Kate and one that fits perfectly for Kevin Bacon‘s character. In the romantic comedy, Jake (Kevin Bacon) is in crisis for being a first-time father, but when he almost loses his wife, Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern), and the baby in a complication of childbirth, he reviews his problems and remembers the happy moments, fearing to lose them.
John Hughes knew that the scene would be the main one in the film and wanted to use This Mortal Coil‘s cover of Tim Buckley‘s Song to the Siren, but he was not authorized. The 1967 song is one of Buckley’s biggest hits and talks about unrequited love, but it was both the mood and pace of the film. With no alternative, Hughes commissioned an original song for the genius Kate Bush, who had to keep the tempo and footage already recorded to make sense.
Being the artist she always was, she knew how to make the best of the situation. The lyrics are (in theory) from the perspective of a man and match exactly with the visual elements already recorded. But since it was MTV’s heyday, it reversed history. Directed by herself, Kate put the woman – This Woman’s work, after all – at the center of the plot. She sings about missed opportunities, about small moments that are the most important when looked back. At dinner, a couple (Kate and Tim McInnerny, lead singer of the band Blackadder) are together when she is sick and is rushed to the hospital. While waiting, he remembers everything they’ve experienced and is desperate for her possible death. The story ends inconclusively.
This Woman’s Work has gone on to be one of Kate Bush‘s most popular hits and a favorite of directors ever since. It was included on The Sensual World album and re-recorded in 2011, in the Director’s Cut, with a new, smoother version.
Will she sing it at the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame ceremony?