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Jaymes Questions the Coldness of the Gun


Alright. I've been listening to this song pretty frequently over the last week. I think that the main attraction for me is the production. There's just a kind of shadowy mysticism in the sound that's helped along by the faintly innocent rawness of Kate's voice. Also, I may have a soft spot for bottle crashes that are used for percussion. It's probably one of the things that puts "The Lilac Hand of Menthol Dan" near the top of my list of early Tyrannosaurus Rex songs. 

I was already vaguely familiar with the general plot of the song before the onset of this week's obsession, but I've had the chance to pay some real attention to it in recent days. Basically, the woman believes that her husband thinks that she has become old and ugly over the course of their marriage. After he responds well to a letter she sends in the guise of a fake admirer, she turns the pseudonym, "Babooshka", into a disguise that's basically a version of herself that's made up to look like the younger, prettier model the husband supposedly wants. In this persona, the wife successfully seduces her husband and ruins the marriage by proving to herself that he has the potential to be unfaithful. 

But now I'm just confused about her reasons for being doubtful of her man's fidelity in the first place. Seduction by letters would be one thing. She can conjure up images of her faded beauty for her husband in her prose. She went further, though. Somehow, she was able to convince her husband that she was actually a gorgeous nubile vixen and maintain that disguise through the most intimate of all acts. I just don't understand how she managed to convince herself that she was so ugly in the first place.

Alright. That's a total lie. I totally understand how people can be insecure about flaws of dubious reality. It's not uncommon.

What I don't understand is why she thought that she was irreparably undesirable to her husband. She easily transforms herself into his dream woman by the end of the song! She doesn't even give that a second thought! She never sits and thinks, "Hm. How in hell am I going put these ragged old bones back into sexy fresh overdrive?" She just picks a pseudonym and goes to it. Was her name the only problem? I don't get it. It seems as though the only things that stood between her and a sexually satisfying marriage were a bit of makeup and a fancy outfit. 

I'm an avowed romantic, but even I accept that a lot of couples need to take extra measures to keep the boudoir loud as old age advances. A lot of couples even role-play with fake names and secret meeting places to simulate the forbidden excitement of an affair. If she'd turned the whole thing into a game and told her husband about it in the beginning, the story would have been a happy one, and she would have injected a new sense of vigour into her marriage. 

Instead she punished her husband for wanting a younger, prettier lover by being a younger, prettier lover. I just don't comprehend how that works, and I don't know how it ever became a problem. 

Incidentally, I did a tiny bit of research about the song once, and I learned that Kate Bush wasn't aware that "babushka" is a Russian term for an old woman when she wrote the piece. Apparently, the story's leading man wasn't either. 

Still, dude. Great song.

Copyright © 2011, Jaymes Buckman and David Aaron Cohen. All rights reserved. In a good way.