"Houdini" as written by and Kate / Bush....
I wait at the table,
And hold hands with weeping strangers
Wait for you to join the group

The tambourine jingle-jangles
The medium roams and rambles
Not taken in, I break the circle

I want this man
To go away now

With a kiss
I'd pass the key
And feel your tongue
Teasing and receiving.
With your spit
Still on my lip
You hit the water
Him and I in the room
To prove you are with us too

He's using code that only you and I know
This is no trick of his
This is your magic

I'd catch the cues
Watching you
Hoping you'd do something wrong

Everybody thinks you'll never make it
But every time you escape

'Rosabel believe,
Not even eternity
Can hold Houdini!'

"Rosabel, believe!"

Through the glass
I'd watch you breathe
("Not even eternity")
Bound and drowned
And paler than you've ever been
("will hold Houdini!")

With your life
The only thing in my mind
We pull you from the water

(Houdini!)

You ("Hou-di-ni")
And I and Rosabel believe


Lyrics submitted by weezerific:cutlery

"Houdini" as written by Kate Bush

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Houdini song meanings
Add your thoughts

7 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is very tragic and passionate at the sametime. I love how kate performs this song. I'm going to say perform because kate not only sings her music she also brings dramatics to it. She is so amazing. This song starts with Houdini's wife getting ready for the traditional halloween houdini saounce?*( spelling ) I think Houdini died on Halloween. So every halloween rosabel tries to reach him. The song sort of switches from the present to the past. It goes from the saounces to Rosabel's painful memory of Houdini supposedly drowning. To get the impact and feel of the song you would have to listen to Kate sing this song. Truly an artist she is.

    p.s sorry about the long paragraph =)
    winterycappyon October 05, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAlso, I believe the cover of the dreaming is about this song for in the picture kate bush is kissing a man who is chained with a key in her mouth.
    seanaclauseon December 29, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is so beautiful.
    cheimatophobiaon February 15, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentIn HOUDINI, the barrier is between this world and the next. [Houdini's wife, Wilhelmina Beatrice (Bess) Rahner, worked as his stage assistant.]

    The first verse is her encounter with a charlatan medium. She recognizes the fakery and breaks the circle.
    Then we are back with her and Houdini, and ironically let into their fakery - how she would lovingly pass the key to him to unlock the chains.

    Then we forward to a 'genuine' medium, one she believes (Ford?); and she is filled with Houdini's magic once again. (She has quite forgotten that their earthly escapology was an act!) She believes (and so do we!) that he has escaped the silence of Eternity...

    His heroic breakthrough moves her to remember the queues of people lining up hoping to see Houdini drown/fail... But queue/cue sound the same, so we also hear a reference to her anxiety while Houdini was in the tank... 'I'd catch the cues' ... And this leads us into the verse dealing with Houdini's final earthly performance...

    Kate's vocals are amazing and the song is eternally fantastic!
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon December 06, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKATE BUSH and THE HUGUENOT

    'The Huguenot' could have been the inspiration for the cover to THE DREAMING. ... On The Dreaming cover KaTe is attempting to pass the life-saving key to 'Mr Houdini'; and in A Huguenot, the girl is attempting to tie the life-saving Roman Catholic badge around her lover's arm. Both couples "embrace" their possible doom under a wall of ivy. The ivy, a symbol of immortality, provides hope of salvation and deliverance.

    JCB: "I thought that photographing Mr. and Mrs. Houdini on the banks of the Hudson River in a freezing wind had been a difficult assignment: the shot had required a long, long exposure and the wind was from the wrong direction, and when it was right, it kept shaking the tripod. However, the sedate, elegant brief for the cover of KBV had an element to it that all photographers are told to avoid working with at all cost: animals. Luckily, the dogs we wanted to use are friends of ours, so there was a good chance that they might put up with posing, keeping quiet and leaving each other alone. But only a chance..."
    gaffa.org/garden/…

    Compare and Contrast:

    A Huguenot, Millais, 1852
    upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d0/…

    The Dreaming, Kate Bush, 1982 (Photography, JCB)
    gaffa.org/wow/…
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon June 01, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKate often tackles the big themes in her music: life, death, love. But never more beautifully than in this song.

    Houdini, the master of escape, escapes death itself to connect with his beloved. Of course this reminds me of Wuthering Heights, Watching You Without Me, Lake Tahoe, etc. But this particular song is just so powerful.

    Love is stronger than death.
    bingoboyon November 17, 2016   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationThe song is about Houdini's wife talking to a medium after Houdini's death.

    "I wait at the table,
    And hold hands with weeping strangers
    Wait for you to join the group
    The tambourine jingle-jangles
    The medium roams and rambles
    Not taken in, I break the circle
    I want this man
    To go away now"

    This part is about the seance. People are sitting in a circle and the medium is claiming to be in contact with Houdini's spirit. His wife is not buying it ("not taken in") so she "breaks the circle" thus breaking the connection. I always interpreted this part as Houdini's wife being in denial and/or being afraid of the medium. I don't think the medium is a fake, I think his wife doesn't want to believe the medium because it's too creepy/painful for her to deal with.

    "With a kiss
    I'd pass the key
    And feel your tongue
    Teasing and receiving.
    With your spit
    Still on my lip
    You hit the water"

    This is Houdini's wife thinking back to the day he died. She kissed him and passed the key (that would allow him to unlock his chains) moments before he entered the water.

    "Him and I in the room
    To prove you are with us too
    He's using code that only you and I know
    This is no trick of his
    This is your magic"

    She's alone with the medium because she doesn't trust the strangers and wants the medium to prove to her that Houdini's spirit is really present. He uses their code "Rosabel, believe" and she realizes that Houdini really is there. "This is no trick of his" - the medium. "This is your magic" - Houdini.

    "I'd catch the cues
    Watching you
    Hoping you'd do something wrong"

    She's saying "You" because she now believes that the medium is indeed possessed by Houdini's spirit but she still hopes he'll "do something wrong" and be revealed as a fake.

    "Everybody thinks you'll never make it
    But every time you escape
    'Rosabel believe,
    Not even eternity
    Can hold Houdini!'

    She now referring to his escape acts. People always thought every stunt would be his last but he escaped every time and even now, he has escaped the afterlife (if only temporarily).

    "Through the glass
    I'd watch you breathe
    Bound and drowned
    And paler than you've ever been
    With your life
    The only thing in my mind
    We pull you from the water"

    This is another flashback to the day he died. She's remembering watching him fail to escape. All she could think of was whether or not he was dead, if he could be resuscitated, etc.

    I may be incorrect about the interpretation that she is afraid/creeped out by his spirit, not wanting to believe the medium, etc. I just know that I would be skeptical and afraid if I was doing something like that myself.

    This is such a beautiful song, I love everything about it. The lyrics, the music, her voice, the drama. It's one of my all time favourites. Kate Bush is a genius. Up there with Bowie for me!
    serpentskirton December 24, 2016   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