The Sensual World (song)

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"The Sensual World"
Kate Bush - The Sensual World.png
Single by Kate Bush
from the album The Sensual World
B-side"Walk Straight Down the Middle", "The Sensual World (Instrumental)"
Released18 September 1989
Format7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, CD & Cassette Single
GenreArt rock
LabelEMI - EM 102
Songwriter(s)Kate Bush
Producer(s)Kate Bush
Kate Bush singles chronology
"Experiment IV"
"The Sensual World"
"This Woman's Work"
Audio sample
The Sensual World
"Flower of the Mountain"
Song by Kate Bush
from the album Director's Cut
Released16 May 2011 (2011-05-16)
GenreArt rock
LabelFish People, EMI
Songwriter(s)Kate Bush, James Joyce
Producer(s)Kate Bush

"The Sensual World" is a song by the English singer Kate Bush. It was the title track and first single from her album of the same name, released in September 1989. The single entered and peaked at no.12 in the UK single charts. The song was later re-recorded using only words taken from Molly Bloom's soliloquy from James Joyce's Ulysses, as Bush had originally intended whilst recording The Sensual World album. This version, re-titled "Flower of the Mountain" appears on the 2011 album Director's Cut.

The B-side to the original single was "Walk Straight Down the Middle," a bonus track on the CD and cassette editions of The Sensual World album. The 12" vinyl release of the single had a double-grooved A-side so that either the song or an instrumental version of the song would be played depending on where the needle was placed.

Writing and inspiration[edit]

The song is inspired by Molly Bloom stepping out of the black and white, two-dimensional pages of James Joyce's Ulysses into the real world, and is immediately struck by the sensuality of it all. It was originally supposed to be Molly Bloom's speech (from the end of Ulysses) set to music, but Bush could not secure the rights from the Joyce estate, so she altered it. In 2011, the Joyce estate granted license to the material, and Bush rerecorded the song as "Flower of the Mountain", released on 2011's Director's Cut.[1]

Musically, one of the main hooks in the chorus of The Sensual World was inspired by a traditional Macedonian piece of music called Nevestinsko Oro, or "Bride's Dance". As in the traditional version, the melody is played on uilleann pipes, in this case by Irish musician Davy Spillane.[2]

Music video[edit]

The video, which features Bush dancing through an enchanted forest in a medieval dress, was co-directed by The Comic Strip co-creator Peter Richardson and Bush herself.

Use in film[edit]

The song, particularly the chorus section, features prominently several times in Atom Egoyan's film Felicia's Journey,[3] highlighting the main character's sense of isolation and loss as she leaves Ireland and her estranged father for England.

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written by Kate Bush.

7" single (UK)
1."The Sensual World"3:56
2."Walk Straight Down the Middle"3:48
12" and CD single (UK)
1."The Sensual World"3:56
2."The Sensual World" (Instrumental)3:57
3."Walk Straight Down the Middle"3:48

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1989) Peak
UK Singles Chart[4] 12
Australian Singles Chart[5] 44
Polish Singles Chart[6] 4
Italian Singles Chart[7] 12
Canadian Singles Chart 58
Dutch Top 40[8] 17
Dutch Single Top 100[9] 20
Belgian Singles Chart[10] 31
Finnish Singles Chart 12
German Singles Chart[11] 29
Irish Singles Chart[12] 6
US Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[13] 6


  1. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (6 April 2011). "After 22 years, Kate Bush gets to record James Joyce". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 12 April 2011.
  2. ^ "Kate Bush at the BBC". 22 August 2014. BBC. BBC Four. Retrieved 22 August 2014. Missing or empty |series= (help)
  3. ^ "Internet Movie Database". Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  4. ^ "The Official Charts Company - Kate Bush - The Sensual World". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  5. ^ "". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  6. ^ "THE SENSUAL WORLD – Kate Bush" (in Polish). LP3. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
  7. ^ "". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  8. ^ "De Nederlandse Top 40, week 42, 1989". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  9. ^ "". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  10. ^ "". Retrieved 22 February 2018.
  11. ^ " search results". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  12. ^ " search results". Retrieved 10 January 2009.
  13. ^ "allmusic - Kate Bush - Billboard singles". Retrieved 10 January 2009.