Babooshka (song)

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Single by Kate Bush
from the album Never for Ever
B-side "Ran Tan Waltz"
Released 27 June 1980
Format 7" single
Recorded January–June 1980[1]
Genre Art rock
Length 3:28
Label EMI
Writer(s) Kate Bush
Producer(s) Kate Bush, Jon Kelly, John L Walters
Certification Silver
Kate Bush singles chronology
"Army Dreamers"
Music sample

"Babooshka" is a song by English singer Kate Bush, taken from her album Never for Ever. Released as a single in June 1980, it spent 10 weeks in the UK chart, peaking at number five.[2] It was an even bigger hit in Australia, where it peaked at number two and was the 20th best-selling single of the year.[3]


According to an interview Kate Bush gave to the Australian TV series Countdown in 1980, the song chronicles a wife's desire to test her husband's loyalty. To do so, she takes on the nom de plume of Babooshka and sends notes to her husband in the guise of a younger woman—something which she fears is the opposite of how her husband currently sees her.[4] (Hence the barbed lines Just like his wife before she "freezed" on him/Just like his wife when she was beautiful.)[5]

The trap is set when, in her bitterness and paranoia, Babooshka arranges to meet her husband, who is attracted to the character who reminds him of his wife in earlier times. She thereby ruins the relationship due to her paranoia.[4]

"I'm sure I heard about it on some TV series years ago, when I was a kid," Bush remarked of the song's story. "You know, these period things that the BBC do. I think it's an extraordinary thing for someone to do… That's why I found it fascinating."[6]

The music video depicts Bush beside a double bass (contrabass) which symbolises the husband, wearing a black bodysuit and a veil in her role as the embittered wife.[4] This changes into an extravagant, mythlike and rather sparse "Russian" costume as her alter-ego, Babooshka. An illustration by Chris Achilleos was the basis for the costume.[7]

The track features John Giblin on bass and marks the significance of fretless bass sounds as instrumental "male" partners through Kate's music in the early eighties.

Kate Bush said that's "something I didn't realise at the time,"[4] when she learnt that Babushka is the Russian word for "grandmother" (although the stress in Russian falls on the first syllable, not the second).

"Babooshka" became Bush's second top five hit in the UK and was certified silver for sales of over 250,000 by the BPI.[8] "Babooshka" reached number five in France and went on to sell 547,000 copies, thus becoming 465th best-selling single of all time there.[9]

The B-Side contains her song "Ran Tan Waltz", her second non-album B-Side. This song is performed as a tragicomedy, where Bush portrays a man bemoaning his bad luck in life being married to a wayward mother. This song uses the word "dick" in the first verse as cacophemism for a penis.[10] Bush has stated that she doesn't typically use such harsh language or write such sexually explicit material, but that she considered the song "good naughty fun."

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Babooshka" (Kate Bush) 3:28
  2. "Ran Tan Waltz" (Bush) 2:40


Chart (1980) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[11] 1
Dutch Single Top 100 15
French SNEP Chart[12] 5
German Singles Chart[13] 14
Israel Charts[14] 5
Italian Singles Chart 5
Irish Singles Chart[15] 5
New Zealand Singles Chart 8
Norwegian Singles Chart 4
UK Singles Chart[2] 5


  1. ^ "Gaffaweb - Kate Bush - PHOENIX - The History of the Cathy Demos - compiled by Wieland Willker". Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  2. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Kate Bush Interview 1980". YouTube. 2006-08-11. Retrieved 2016-10-16. 
  5. ^ "Kate Bush Discography - Song Index - Babooshka". Archived from the original on 2007-11-22. 
  6. ^ BBC Radio 1: 'Saturday Live', 25 February 1984
  7. ^ "Polska Strona Kate Bush". Retrieved 29 June 2011. Artistic concepts and choreography throughout by Kate Bush Babooshka costume based on an illustration by Chris Achilleos and released by Pamela Keats. 
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ [3][dead link]
  10. ^ "The Lyrics - "Ran Tan Waltz (original title, The Ran Tan)"". Archived from the original on 2006-10-18. 
  11. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 50. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  12. ^ Billboard Magazine, Hits of the World, 1980. Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  13. ^ Billboard Magazine, Hits of the World, December 1980. Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  14. ^ Billboard Magazine, Hits of the World, 1980. Billboard Magazine. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  15. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Retrieved 2016-10-16. 

External links[edit]