"Mrs. Bartolozzi" as written by and Kate Bush....
I remember it was that Wednesday
Oh when it rained and it rained
They traipsed mud all over the house
It took hours and hours to scrub it out
All over the hall carpet
I took my mop and bucket
And I cleaned and I cleaned

The kitchen floor
Until it sparkled
Then I took my laundry basket
And put the linen all in it
And everything I could fit in it
And all our dirty clothes that hadn't gone into the wash
And all your shirts and jeans and things
And put them in the new washing machine
Washing machine
Washing machine

I watched them go 'round and 'round
My blouse wrapping itself in your trousers
Oh the waves are going out
My skirt floating up around my waist
As I wade out into the surf
Oh and the waves are coming in
Oh and the waves are going out
Oh and you're standing right behind me
Little fish swim between my legs

Oh and the waves are coming in
Oh and the waves are going out
Oh and the waves are coming in
Out of the corner of my eye
I think I see you standing outside
But it's just your shirt
Hanging on the washing line
Waving its arm as the wind blows by
And it looks so alive
Nice and white
Just like its climbed right out
Of my washing machine
Washing machine
Washing machine

Slooshy sloshy slooshy sloshy
Get that dirty shirty clean
Slooshy sloshy slooshy sloshy
Make those cuffs and collars gleam
Everything clean and shiny

Washing machine
Washing machine
Washing machine

Lyrics submitted by dallew, edited by Mellow_Harsher

"Mrs. Bartolozzi" as written by Kate Bush

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Mrs. Bartolozzi song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentI think this is a typical Kate Bush song in that it blends several different themes together. It starts off decribing a woman doing the domestic chores of the house but, watching the washing machine, she begins to daydream about a day on the beach and making love to her husband, the thoughts all entwined like the jumbled tumbling blouse and trousers.
    Paegaon December 06, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentTime telescopes when you’re encased in grief. After a grievous loss, days blur into days, moments prolong into agonizing hours, and the only way to endure the pain is to suspend time, to simply exist moment to moment and wait for the pain to ease.
    Mrs. Bartolozzi lost her husband. Either he killed himself in the house or possibly he drowned. But the thing that stands out most starkly in her memory of that day is the mud tracked through the house by the police and medics. All she could do was stand to the side and watch them tromp mud through the house. All she could focus on was putting things back to rights. Numb in her grief after they left, in the empty house, she focused on what was in front of her: cleaning up the mess. She scrubbed the mud out of the hall carpet, she gathered up the dirty laundry and stuck it in the washing machine and maybe for a few moments she stared into the water and watched it wash the mud out of a pair of jeans or the blood from a shirt. She’s grateful that in this one case, something can be repaired, something can be put back to rights. The washing machine makes everything clean again. She wishes the rest of life’s messes were that easy.
    Later she’s outside walking down by the water – it might be hours later, it might be days or even weeks later. For a moment she has forgotten the pain of loss, then turns and sees one of his shirts on the clothesline, the wind whipping up an arm – and for a horrible moment she thinks it’s him waving at her. She feels the agonizing loss again as she realizes it’s just the shirt. She walks out into the water and watches the waves coming in and out around her legs, the little fish swimming there, in and out, just like the water in the washing machine – she wishes she could put her grief into the washing machine and wash it away. She remembers the little sons she sang when her children helped her with her chores, was it so many years ago? Or maybe just yesterday. She might stride out into the surf now herself, seeking to wash away her grief. Or she may turn and go back to her house.
    lidarose9on March 10, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is such a powerful, important and great song… Kate is truly awesome…
    lidarose9 gives a very good interpretation.

    Mirrors “can reflect directly, reflect with additions or deletions, or serve as a doorway into another reality. The mirror is troubling because it reveals plainly what is before us, forcing us to interpret and evaluate whether or not we like what we see.”

    The power of this song is ‘reflected’ in the words... The song is ‘a mirror’ on her grief through which we look… eg:

    ‘I remember…’ = I can’t forget…
    ‘They traipsed etc…’ = My expanding grief now that you’re gone…
    ‘And everything I could fit in it…’ = an emotional image of what she will have to work through later.
    ‘all our… all your…’ = The first mention of him… sung to him… they are still their dirty clothes… like he is so alive…

    ‘sparkled’, ‘new’ , ‘washing machine’ are sung like lifebuoys in Mrs. Bartolozzi’s sea of grief.

    Mrs. Bartolozzi stares at the clothes going round and round… Her mind wanders off reflectively through the mirror window of the washing machine… Through her words, we see/feel the love between the two of them… and consequently the mirrored lost world…

    ‘standing right behind me…’ = supporting me / part of me…
    ‘I think I see you standing outside…’ = I need your support…
    (outside=other=separation=beyond=death, etc.)

    She is startled by a freshly laundered shirt blowing outside/through the window… She has lost her support…

    ‘Oh and the waves are going out/Oh and the waves are coming in…’ gives a sense of drowning reminiscent of THE NINTH WAVE… And grief is the Ninth Wave bearing down…

    Sociologically, the washing machine marked a new phase of freedom in women’s work and lives. It also made them more domestically isolated. Gone were the washing songs and the institution of collective sharing surrounding them. So the washing song at the end of Mrs. Bartolozzi heightens our sense of her isolation and aloneness in grief. Instead of sharing as her grandmother might have done, Mrs Bartolozzi is singing her grief alone…

    "Mrs. Bartolozzi" is a remarkable piece of work!
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon April 12, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKate Bush: "Some of my friends loved it, others thought it was a funny interlude, and others didn’t feel comfortable either they thought it was about the disguise of a crime or it was too personal. But it’s not me in particular."


    Mrs B's partner is missing/dead/murdered. One rainy Wednesday, the police/psychiatrist arrest/section Mrs B. They take her away... Some time later, Mrs B returns to the house... The mud from that rainy Wednesday has still to be cleaned... Mrs B can't stand a dirty place, it plays havoc with her mind... First and foremost, Mrs B needs her home to sparkle...

    Maybe the husband betrayed her. Maybe she killed him à la Dancing in the Dark by Joan Barfoot - Edna Cormick, forty-three, is incarcerated in a mental hospital for murdering her husband. For twenty years, Edna escaped the world by dedicating herself entirely to husband and home. Most people clean in circles; Edna cleaned in squares. So when she learns he’s been having an affair, her sense of betrayal is devastating and literally maddening. And so she sits, silently filling notebooks, trying to find where and how her life went wrong. 'Dancing in the Dark' is a tightly woven psychological novel, which explores the idea that madness is not necessarily self-destructive, and may lead to a kind of wisdom...

    As the last of the dirty washing turns in the washing machine, Mrs B finds the mental space to remember the happy honeymoon times... Then grief and regret... The 'washing song' suggests regression, isolation, despair, madness... But at least the washing is clean, gleaming, and reassuringly white...
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon January 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMRS BARTOLOZZI: 'Washing' Photography by John Carder-Bush

    Some people believe there is a red devil hidden within the 'Washing' photograph accompanying the lyrics to Mrs Bartolozzi in the CD/Vinyl booklet... Have a look and see if you can see it... Look at the center out-of-focus red image of trees... A nose, lips and two hollow eyes can just be made out. This may well be just the light and shade in the foliage or the red devil may be an Occult sign, a hint at what is about to happen, The Omen... "It's in the trees! It's coming!"

    Then there's that sexy red dress... The Devil Wears Prada!

    KB: "The devil's task is to tempt and temptation has to be attractive."
    KB: "So I was thinking, what if you met the Devil? The Ultimate One: charming, elegant, well spoken."
    Theresa_Gionoffrioon May 31, 2008   Link
  • 0
    My Interpretation Mrs. Bartolozzi is a maid, is my take, and she is having an affair with the man of the house, and as she does her job, she thinks of the acts of desire her and her employer have shared
    CuteSparkinaon May 05, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentTo the Pre-Raphaelites, according to William Michael Rossetti, "sloshy" meant "anything lax or scamped in the process of painting ... and hence ... any thing or person of a commonplace or conventional kind"
    aaronxpon September 09, 2012   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI was listening to this last night with a friend who'd mentioned it was a weird song. he interpreted it as someone who is suffering the effects of OCD !

    I interpreted it as about a woman who has lost her husband, possibly murdered, in their home and she, in her grief, becomes like an automaton and does her chores whilst reminiscing of the love she had and the lovemaking she did with her husband and the intense feeling of emptiness., now he has gone. It's written as though she's thinking back in the past (not like it has just happened); maybe she is the murderer and she is now incarcerated for her crime and her realisation all too late for what she has done in a moment of madness !
    TheTallGuyon September 09, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI thought that Kate was so devoid of inspiration, that she had nothing more interesting than her domestic chores to write about. I honestly thought that. Actually, I thought that maybe she was being a bit ironic, singing such a dramatic song about household chores, which are the most boring thing you can think of. I think the guys who have said it's about losing a partner are right. I had a similar thing, when I lost my Dad, and I went into this kind of trance and went round the house polishing and tidying everything. However, I don't want to listen to this. I thought music was supposed to be enjoyable. My fascination with Kate ended with the Red Shoes, because I think she'd lost her talent then, with clumsy lyrics and phrasing and lack of good tunes. For me, Aerial was the epitome of bad. I thought it was really sad that Kate was still making records. OK, I admit, I missed the point of this song, but then I must've missed the point of her last few albums. Maybe I'm not smart enough, but it's all lost on me I'm afraid. At least the B-52's still rock.
    JamieCon March 27, 2014   Link
  • 0
    Song MeaningI have been listening to Aerial every now and then for over a decade now and I always loved the piano work on this one. Yet somehow the meaning of this particular song had never hit me before - I always thought it was just meant to be silly - up until recently.

    I think you can only understand this song if you lost someone very close, because then you really understand the meaning of their clothes. To wash them is somehow a very powerful (and an utterly difficult) way of dealing with the loss. There really is nothing quite as personal as a person's clothes, things they wore every day.

    There are many other strong metaphors and layers in this song, each one of which can be analyzed and enjoyed in its own way. It is an amazing work of art.
    rickert90on September 21, 2016   Link

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