Wave after wave, each mightier than the last
'Til last, a ninth one, gathering half the deep
And full of voices, slowly rose and plunged
Roaring, and all the wave was in a flame



Lyrics submitted by Theresa_Gionoffrio

The Ninth Wave song meanings
Add your thoughts

10 Comments

sort form View by:
  • 0
    General Comment1/7

    'While the term dark night of the soul is used broadly, its general meaning — in the field of higher consciousness — is a lengthy and profound absence of light and hope. In the dark night you feel profoundly alone...' (themystic.org/dark-night/)

    "This water is no figure of speech," Jung observed, "but a living symbol of the dark psyche... earthly and tangible, it is also the fluid of the instinct-driven body, blood and the flowing of blood, the odor of the beast, carnality heavy with passion..." (Jung's Collected Works; cited in On Record.)

    'The four [Tennysonian] lines on the jacket refer to the night of Uther's death, but the quotation ends before the reader can learn that the infant Arthur, swathed in flame, is borne on the ninth wave... When the wave recedes, calm ensues...' (On Record, Frith & Goodwin, 1990; pg 461.)
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon December 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment2/7

    The 'Hello Earth' Chorus, The Ninth Wave Suite, and Nosferatu

    The Ninth Wave Suite is a multifaceted operatic and cinematic jewel, cut with many thematic and narrative aspects. In KB's Breathing, the 'Chorus' captures the social anxiety of the Cold War - the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament; Greenham Common (Women's Peace Camp); the Armaments Race; Brezhnev, Reagan, Thatcher, etc... So could The Ninth Wave Suite capture, record and input another historical moment of social anxiety?

    In the liner notes to Hounds of Love KB "thanks" Werner Herzog, not specifying what for. But KB has confirmed that she got the men's choral section of Hello Earth from Herzog's "Nosferatu the Vampyre" (1979). The ('Greek') Tragic Chorus on Hello Earth is a version of "Zinzkaro," the Georgian folk song performed on the Herzog soundtrack (wiki). I have not seen the Herzog film, only the Murnau original. But from Gaffa: 'I just saw "Nosferatu, The Vampyre" by Werner Herzog tonight. The chorus in "Hello, Earth" that begins around 3:30 is indeed in it in a couple of places: in the town square where the plague victims are dancing around and shortly thereafter while a bat is flying.' - gaffa.org/dreaming/…

    Through which interpretive facet can we make sense of KB's Vampyric inclusion?
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon December 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment3/7

    "Nosferatu! Was it he who brought the plague to Bremen in 1838? I have long sought the causes of that terrible epidemic, and found at its origin and its climax the innocent figures of Jonathon Harker and his young wife Nina..." - Nosferatu (1922).

    Since at least the Victorian times, the vampire has been associated with sexuality, drug addiction and plague:
    "The vampire is like the Chinese addicts who began in the late 1800s to inhabit London's East End opium dens. Both are like new diseases arriving from peripheries that attempt to "colonize the center" ... Against such threats, the imperial center summons all its powers of knowledge and mastery of science and technology to defeat the vampire and, in parallel fashion, ultimately to justify legally outlawing the addict" (McMahon, 'The Fall of the God of Money', 2002; pg 16).

    Stoker's Dracula uses the vampire as a metaphor for the Victorian view of sex as innately dangerous; and in Murnau's Nosferatu, plague arrives in Bremen by sea, brought from the East by the odious Other, the undead Nosferatu (and 'Nosferatu' means 'plague-carrier').

    And they say they take me home
    Like poppies heavy with seed
    They take me deeper and deeper...

    In And Dream Of Sleep, KB uses the simile 'like poppies heavy with seed'. Opium is the name for the latex produced within the seed pods of the opium poppy. Morphine, the principle ingredient of opium, is named after Morpheus, the Greek god of dreams. Heroin is a processed derivative. The first period of large scale heroin smuggling into the United States since its 1923 prohibition occurred during the years 1967-71 (opioids.com/jh/…). After injecting heroin, the user reports a surge of euphoria. Most people feel 'a warm glow' (My face is all lit up...), and any concerns become insignificant. After the rush, they enter an alternately wakeful and drowsy state, with substantially reduced psychological pain. In ADOS, the protagonist is wanting to sleep rather than be left to her distressed imagination. She longs to dream cotton wool dreams; and the poppy simile clearly reveals that she understands opiate effects as a drug addict would. ('White Horse' is street slang for heroin or cocaine.)

    In Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick; filmed as 'Blade Runner,' 1982) there are three distinct groups: humans, "specials," and androids. Specials are damaged humans, no longer considered real humans; they are looked down upon as sub-human. The novel questions what is human and "humanness." Key here is empathy. At the outset of the novel we see Deckard tending to his fake sheep and wishing for a real one... Since the war that caused the radioactive fallout, real animals are scarce and have become status symbols. Caring for an animal means displaying empathy, humanness, signalling that people with pets are not androids. But during the novel, we see that Deckard who is considered human by society is very cold and unfeeling, while Isidore and Rachael who are considered sub- or non-human display much more emotion.

    KB's ADOS could thus be a longing for empathy and warmth, a longing to show empathy and warmth, and a compassionate longing to feel human...
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon December 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment4/7

    Under Ice taps into vulnerability, rashness and terror. Spaced out speeding across still life... Maybe a mind-expanding trip taking the protagonist to the edge of self, to the beyond self... Speeding above/over ice becomes trapped below/under ice, and the self becomes dangerously split... Coke Crash...
    ('Ice' is street slang for cocaine; 'Splitting' is street slang for rolling marijuana and cocaine into a single joint; 'Kate Bush' is street slang for kind bud, an expensive and potent strain of marijuana!)

    "Red, red roses" ... "Pinks and posies."
    "Confess to me, girl." ... "The blackbird!" ...
    "Bless me, father, bless me, father, for I have sinned" ...
    "I question your innocence!" ... "She's a witch!"
    "There's a stone around my leg" ...
    "Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!" ... "Not guilty!" ...
    "Get out of the waves! Get out of the water!"

    In legend, roses purify and in times of plague people carried posies for protection (c.f. "Ring a-ring o' roses"). Rose thorns are said to represent human finitude and guilt because in The Paradise Garden the roses had no thorns.
    ('The Witch' is street slang for heroin; 'witch' and 'wings' are both street slang for heroin and cocaine; 'Black birds' and 'roses' are street slang for amphetamines.)

    In Waking The Witch, the protagonist is burdened by having sinned. The blackbird is a symbol of temptations, especially sexual ones. So is the nature of her transgression sex as sin? Is Waking The Witch a 'trial of conscience'/"Salem witch trial" brought about by sex, sin, danger and mass hysteria?

    'Of Adam's first wife, Lilith, it is told
    (The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)...
    The rose and poppy are her flower...' - from Lilith, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

    Lilith is held as a goddess of witches, the dark feminine principle. Some regard Lilith as the very first vampire who cannot die because she left Eden before the fall of Adam and Eve. Two primary characteristics are seen in legends about Lilith: Lilith as the incarnation of lust, and Lilith as a child-killing witch who strangles helpless neonates (wiki).
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon December 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment5/7

    A VAMPYRIC DIGRESSION, Nosferatu by FW Murnau (1922).
    Harker left Nina with his good friends, Westenra and his wife Lucy... Jonathon travels to the Carpathians... INNKEEPER: You must not leave now! The evil spirits become all-powerful after dark! ... THE BOOK OF THE VAMPIRES: and it was in 1443 that the first Nosferatu was born... DRIVER: We will go no further, sir. Not for a fortune! We will go no further. Here begins the land of the phantoms... And when he had crossed the bridge, the phantoms came to meet him... "Nina, my beloved- Don't be unhappy. Though I am far away, I love you. This is a strange country. After my first night in the castle, I found two large bites on my neck. From mosquitoes? From spiders? I don't know. I have had some frightful dreams, but they were only dreams. You mustn't worry about me. I am leaving immediately to return to Bremen--and to you." ... THE BOOK OF THE VAMPIRES: Nosferatu drinks the blood of the young, the blood necessary to his own existence... NINA: (suddenly sitting up) Jonathon! Jonathon! Hear me! ... The doctor laid Nina's trance to some unknown disease. Since then I have learned that she had sensed the menace of Nosferatu that very night. And Harker, far away, had heard her cries of warning... ... ...

    Watching You Without Me - Nina paranormally watches Jonathon... What separates them, what makes communication impossible, is the Nosferatu...

    ... ... ...Nosferatu was en route; and with him disaster approached Bremen... Nosferatu held Renfield under his influence from afar... ATTENDANT: That patient who was brought in yesterday has gone out of his mind... Nina was often seen alone among the dunes, watching and waiting for her husband's return... NEW PLAGUE BAFFLES SCIENCE A mysterious epidemic of the plague has broken out in eastern Europe in the port cities of the Black Sea, attacking principally the young and vigorous. Cause of the two bloody marks on the neck of each victim baffles the medical profession... Aboard the Demester, first one man was stricken, then all... BURGOMASTER: The plague is here! Stay in your houses! ... Nina reads from 'The Book of the Vampires': Only a woman can break his frightful spell--a woman pure in heart--who will offer her blood freely to Nosferatu and will keep the vampire by her side until after the cock has crowed... Enter the Nosferatu... The cock crows. The Nosferatu looks up from drinking at Nina's neck... RENFIELD: The Master is dead... And at that moment, as if by a miracle, the sick no longer died, and the stifling shadow of the vampire vanished with the morning sun.
    THE END.
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon December 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment6/7

    From the painful cries of mothers to a terrifying scream
    We recorded it and put it into our machine...
    - Experiment IV.

    So could The Ninth Wave Suite capture, record and input another historical moment of social anxiety?

    Watching storms Start to form Over America...
    I was there at the birth Out of the cloudburst The head of the tempest...

    THE BIRTH OF THE TEMPEST: KB's fifth album, Hounds of Love, was released in September 1985. AIDS was detected in a group of American gay men and entered global consciousness in June 1981. By 1985–1986 it was declared a pandemic as it spread across sub-Saharan Africa (wiki).

    The Tragic Chorus on Hello Earth is accredited to Herzog’s "Nosferatu"... The Ninth Wave Suite chronicles a vast array of human emotions, highs and lows. Beneath the surface there are references to: heroin, cocaine, "specials," etc; vulnerability and rashness; sexuality as sin; mass hysteria and moral panic; drowning and the inability to communicate; etc, etc. Moreover, the "Nosferatu" Chorus introduces vampires, plague, madness and death. Does KB use the Tragic Chorus on Hello Earth to reference the social anxiety surrounding HIV/AIDS, just as she referenced The Cold War anxiety in the Breathing Chorus? Gary Hurst, a dancer who worked with Kate in both videos and live appearances, died from AIDS in 1990. He is mentioned by his nickname Bubba in the song Moments Of Pleasure. And Alan Murphy, Kate's regular guitarist for a decade, died from AIDS in 1989. Kate recalls Murph "playing his guitar refrain" in the song Moments of Pleasure. gaffa.org/diction/…

    The 'Get out of the waves! Get out of the water!' could also reference the emerging pandemic. And the 'All you sailors/Life Savers/cruisers ("Get out of the waves/water!")' could warn against prostitution, Cold Blue Steel & Sweet Fire, promiscuity and Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977).
    ('Life Saver' is street slang for heroin; 'Taking a cruise' is street slang for Rocket Fuel/Angel dust/PCP; 'Bad go' is street slang for a bad reaction to a drug; uta.fi/FAST/GC/….)
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon December 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Comment7/7

    The Morning Fog

    KB: "Well, that's really meant to be the rescue of the whole situation, where now suddenly out of all this darkness and weight comes light..."
    Nosferatu (1922): "As the sun rose, Harker felt himself freed from the oppressions of the night..."

    Finally, The Morning Fog represents the all clear salvation emerging from the Tennysonian ninth wave: a thanksgiving for surviving the dark night of the soul; a triumphant recognition and deeper understanding of life; the birthing song of a born again, wiser and more responsible adult self; etc.

    KB: "I think even though a lot of people say that the side is about someone drowning, it's much more about someone who's not drowning, and how they're there for the night in the water, being visited by their past, present and future to keep them awake, to keep them going through until the morning, until there, uh, there's hope..."

    "RAIN, RAIN, AND SUN! A RAINBOW IN THE SKY!
    A young man will be wiser by and by;
    An old man's wit may wander ere he die.
    Rain, Rain and sun! a rainbow on the lea!
    A truth is this to me, and that to thee:
    And truth or clothed or naked be.
    Rain, sun, and rain! and the free blossom blow;
    Sun, rain, and sun! and where is he who knows?
    From the great deep to the great deep he goes."
    --Tennyson, The Coming of Arthur.


    ****
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon December 30, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentp.s. Michael Berkeley: "As a composition student I played rock music on the side, an experience that taught me a lot about direct communication and enabled me later in life to enjoy some brief but rewarding forays into film and commercial music. So when the conductor Richard Hickox rang me one day in 1984 to ask if I could help with a rather unusual job for which he and his choir had been engaged, I was intrigued. Kate Bush, it transpired, was working on her new album, Hounds of Love, and for one track, Hello Earth, she wanted a chorus to recreate the orthodox singing/chanting that made such a contribution to the film Nosferatu. The only problem, Hickox explained, was that there was no sheet music available and that anyway it would need to be notated and completely re-written to fit the Hello Earth track. Slightly bemused, I think - this was a far cry from his more customary Gluck or Vaughan Williams - he asked if he could put Bush in touch with me." from 'Kate Bush rules, OK?' Guardian Unlimited Arts.
    arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/…

    p.p.s. In 'Sheep in Fog' Sylvia Plath creates a complex extended metaphor where the subject is her own spiritual experience. "Fog" is an important catalyst in this process because it indicates a state of perception and comprehension where the definite borders between concepts break down allowing the concepts to merge into each other, becoming a higher unifying concept. The higher concept necessarily causes an expansion of consciousness in the reader. The poet explicitly states the images "sheep" and "fog" only in the title. The first stanza mentions "hills" and "whiteness". These concepts already blend into "sheep" and "fog". Then the sheep are further metamorphosed into "people" and "stars" indicating a further personification and a reaching into the cosmos. (See 'Sheep in Fog,' Ariel, Sylvia Plath, 1966.)
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon January 02, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentPOSTSCRIPT.

    from Gaffa, The Ninth Wave, General Thoughts
    - gaffa.org/dreaming/…

    Date: Tue, 12 Jan 88
    Subject: Ophelia

    "The whole conceit of the heroine drifting in water refers to far more than just the explicit, immediate context of The Ninth Wave. In fact, the implicit references are so deliberate that they may arguably be more important than the explicit subject-matter...

    "The allusion to Ophelia's insane self-immersion is plain to see in the photo for The Ninth Wave: the flowers. These were explained away almost flippantly by John Carder Bush [JCB] as being intended to show the chaos and damage on board the ship during its sinking (or whatever ultimately forced the heroine into the ocean). The idea was supposed to be that commercially cultivated flowers, perhaps in the hands of the heroine at the time of the disaster, perhaps thrown by happenstance into the water from a dining table flower arrangement during the commotion and sinking, have happened to end up floating in the very same waves in which the heroine finds herself engulfed. This explanation has always struck IED as suspiciously superficial -- not to mention implausible...

    "The image of a beautiful young Englishwoman floating on her back in a cold, deathly state, dressed in a white lace nightie and set adrift amid exotic and colourful flowers has, since the seventeenth-century premiere of Hamlet, been inextricably connected with the fate of Ophelia... This image, in fact, was reproduced precisely by Kate herself in what was virtually her debut on video, the so-called Eftelink films, specifically the last of the six, a setting of "The Kick Inside"...

    "During that conversation [at East Wickham Farm in 1985] IED and JCB discussed the connection of the "Lakeside" images (photographs taken by Jay of his sister sitting and stretching by the banks of the river or lake which appears in the Eftelink videos) with Pre-Raphaelite imagery...

    "IED has been purposelessly musing on all of this, mulling over also Kate's own comments about the influence of Pre-Raphaelitism on her own artistic vocabulary as well as the large painting, called "The Hogsmill Ophelia", which hangs in her studio.* And the more familiar he becomes with the images and the references, the more sense it all makes. What do you think?"


    * At one end of the studio is a huge painting of a drowned, cracked doll floating face up past a sewer. For some reason this painting, which might be described as macabre-kitsch, seems to say a lot about its owner. Kate returns and sees me examining it.
    [KB:] "That's called 'The Hogsmill Ophelia'. A lot of people find it disturbing but I don't. I lived with it for ages. Looked at it every day. That picture cost me all the money I had once. Paintings are a great inspiration. One of my favourites is by Millais, 'The Huguenot'. It's of a man going off to the wars being hugged to the breast of his lover. She's holding him to her by a scarf around his arm. It's very beautiful."

    - from gaffa.org/dreaming/…
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon January 13, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKate Bush has confirmed that she got the men's choral section of 'Hello Earth' from Herzog's "Nosferatu the Vampyre" (1979). The ('Greek') Tragic Chorus on 'Hello Earth' is a version of "Zinzkaro," the Georgian folk song performed on the Herzog soundtrack.

    Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (1979)

    Vokal-Ensemle Gordela "Zinzkaro"

    Chapter 22: Pestilence
    1:26:31-1:29:01

    'Zinzkaro' plays as Lucy walks through the square observing mayhem, madness and social breakdown brought about by the plague. All real sounds are filtered out.

    Werner Herzog: "Watch out for the music... from the Georgian Soviet Republic... and it has something very, very strange about it... And this scene is a little bit like in late medieval times where people would feast and dance as an homage to life itself and in the craze of the times of the plague..."
    Interviewer: "So you would say at this point we have definitely crossed over into the other realm?"
    Werner Herzog: "Yes."

    "The scene where plague-infested people feast their last in the medieval square while surrounded by rats is surrealism straight out of Bosch that imprints permanently on the brain." (imdb)

    Chapter 23: Sacrifice
    1:34:16-1:35:24

    'Zinzkaro' plays again as Count Dracula sucks the life out of Lucy, hand on her breast, with vampire bat cut.

    IMHO, the 'Hello Earth' chorus is so like the Werner film soundtrack as to be considered the same. Hence, KaTe's "Special Thanks to... Werner Herzog..."

    Indeed, Kate and Hickox's remarkable recreation of the orthodox singing/chanting that makes such a contribution to Herzog's 'Nosferatu' is an uncanny quote. Moreover, Kate Bush follows Herzog's 'Nosferatu' by using two sections of the "Zinzkaro" chorus. It must therefore be concluded that Kate was deliberately seeking symbolic associations between 'Nosferatu' and The Ninth Wave's 'Hello Earth' chorus.

    Kate Bush's "Zinzkaro" quotes and signifies Nosferatu's "Zinzkaro", which in turn means that Kate is incorporating vampiric and plague myth, legend and lore into the ('Greek') Tragic Chorus on 'Hello Earth'. The cross-media cultural allusions thematically expand the idea that The Ninth Wave Suite addresses the social anxiety surrounding HIV/AIDS (and see the further comparison made above between 'Waking The Witch' ("Red, red roses, Go down") and the plague sea shanty "Blood Red Roses").

    After seeing Herzog's 'Nosferatu the Vampyre', one cannot help but see La Danse Macabre and vampiric blood lust when listening to the 'Hello Earth' sections of "Zinzkaro". 'Waking The Witch' becomes more defined as a 'trial of conscience,' a 'Salem witch trial,' a crucible brought about by sex, sin, danger and mass hysteria. And The Ninth Wave Suite takes on board the edge of a modern morality play.
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon May 19, 2008   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain