This Woman's Work

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"This Woman's Work"
Kate Bush - This Woman's Work.png
Single by Kate Bush
from the album The Sensual World
B-side "Be Kind to My Mistakes"
"I'm Still Waiting"
Released 20 November 1989 (1989-11-20)
Format 7" vinyl, 7" vinyl picture disc, 12" vinyl, CD, cassette
Recorded 1988
Genre Art rock
Length 3:42
Label EMI
Songwriter(s) Kate Bush
Producer(s) Kate Bush
Kate Bush singles chronology
"The Sensual World"
(1989)
"This Woman's Work"
(1989)
"Love and Anger"
(1990)

"The Sensual World"
(1989)
"This Woman's Work"
(1989)
"Love and Anger"
(1990)
Audio sample

"This Woman's Work" is a song written and performed by the British singer Kate Bush. It was originally featured on the soundtrack of the American film She's Having a Baby (1988). The song was released as the second single from her album The Sensual World in 1989 and peaked at 25 in the UK Singles Chart.[1]

Song information[edit]

The lyric of "This Woman's Work" is about being forced to confront an unexpected and frightening crisis during the normal event of childbirth. Written for the movie She's Having a Baby,[2] director John Hughes used the song during the film's dramatic climax, when Jake (Kevin Bacon) learns that the lives of his wife, Kristy (Elizabeth McGovern), and their unborn child are in danger. As the song plays, we see a montage sequence of flashbacks showing the couple in happier times, intercut with shots of him waiting for news of Kristy and their baby's condition. Bush wrote the song specifically for the sequence, writing from a man's (Jake's) viewpoint and matching the words to the visuals which had already been filmed.[3]. 🤯 (Michael & Lashaun Ramsey, 2018)

The version of the song that was featured on The Sensual World was re-edited from the original version featured on the film soundtrack. The version released as a single was a third, slightly different mix.

"This Woman's Work" is one of several songs that were completely re-recorded on her 2011 album Director's Cut. The new version features a sparse performance of Bush singing and playing piano.

Composition

According to the sheet music published in Musicnotes.com by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the song is set in the time signature of common time, with a slow tempo of 66 beats per minute. It is written in the key of A-flat major with Bush's vocal range spanning from A3 to E5.[4]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "This Woman's Work", which was directed by Bush herself, starts with Bush, spotlighted in an otherwise black room, playing the introductory notes on a piano. In the next scene, a distraught man (played by Tim McInnerny) is pacing in the waiting room of a hospital. It is then revealed through flashbacks that his wife (played by Bush) has collapsed while they were having dinner. The story blurs into a continuous scene where he carries her to the car, a desperate race to the hospital, and his wife being wheeled away on a stretcher as he races in behind her. While waiting, the husband is wracked with fear and imagines his wife in happier times, kissing him in the rain, and even imagines the nurse coming to tell him she has died. The nurse then pulls him out of his reverie, as she reassuringly puts her hand on his shoulder and tells him about his wife's situation, the outcome of this is left ambiguous. The final scene of the video returns to Bush as she silently closes the piano keyboard.

Track listing[edit]

A version of the B-side "Be Kind to My Mistakes" had previously been featured in the film Castaway in 1986. The other B-side, "I'm Still Waiting", features on the 12" and CD single versions only.

7" single (UK)

No.TitleLength
1."This Woman's Work"3:33
2."Be Kind to My Mistakes"3:03

12" and CD single (UK)

No.TitleLength
1."This Woman's Work (Single Mix)"3:33
2."Be Kind to My Mistakes"3:03
3."I'm Still Waiting"4:25

Charts[edit]

"This Woman's Work" was released on 20 November 1989 and reached a peak position of #25 in the UK Singles Chart. Fifteen years after its original release, in 2005, the song peaked at #3 in the UK Official Download Chart, due to it being featured in the Tamzin Outhwaite drama Walk Away and I Stumble. Due to the song's inclusion in TV series Extras, the song entered the UK chart once again at #121 in the week ending 5 January 2008, rising to #76 the following week. After it was performed by a contestant on Britain's Got Talent in April 2012, it recharted at #63 in the UK chart.

In 2017, "This Woman's Work" was certified Silver by the British Phonographic Industry for sales in excess of 200,000 copies.[5]

Chart (1989) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[1] 25
Irish Singles Chart[6] 20
Chart (1990) Peak
position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[7] 89
Chart (2005) Peak
position
UK Official Download Chart 3
Chart (2008) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[1] 76
Chart (2012) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[1] 63

In TV and Film[edit]

"This Woman's Work" was used as the musical backdrop for a lynching scene in Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale, Season Two.[8]

In the season one finale of (FXX's) "You’re the Worst", a deflated and drunk Lindsay sings a karaoke rendition of “This Woman’s Work.”[9]

It is also heard in the Party of Five episode “Hitting Bottom”, in Felicity episode “Drawing the Line”; and the second episode of "Alias".[10]

Maxwell's cover versions[edit]

"This Woman's Work"
Single by Maxwell
from the album MTV Unplugged
and Now
Released January 2002
Format CD single, Digital
Recorded 2000
Genre
Length 4:01
Label Columbia
Songwriter(s) Kate Bush
Producer(s) MUSZE (Maxwell)
Hod David
Maxwell singles chronology
"Lifetime"
(2001)
"This Woman's Work"
(2002)
"Pretty Wings"
(2009)

"Lifetime"
(2001)
'"This Woman's Work"'
(2001)
"Pretty Wings"
(2009)

In 1997, American R&B musician Maxwell covered the song for the release of his album MTV Unplugged. The artist later re-recorded the song in studio for his album Now (2001). This version of the song was released as the album's third single in 2001 and peaked in the US Billboard charts at #58 (Billboard Hot 100 in 2002)[11] and #16 (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs).[12] This version also appeared in the movie Love & Basketball.

Music video[edit]

The music video for Maxwell's cover of "This Woman's Work", which was directed by Sanji, begins with pictures of Maxwell and his lover in black-and-white photography. One picture reveals that his lover has died. In the next scene, Maxwell sees the ghost of his lover in the street and proceeding toward her, he falls through the street into a watery grave; seemingly drowning in his sorrow. Maxwell, then begins to swim across the street, pulling himself up by holding onto the sidewalk, he looks up to a cloud that reveals the face of his lover. The next scene shows Maxwell sitting in a diner, reminiscing about the loss of his love. Sitting next to Maxwell, are two women who—shown through flashbacks—have experienced heartache and loss of another kind. The music video ends with Maxwell walking outside of the diner, seemingly still underwater, as he sings "make it go away."

Charts[edit]

Chart (2000) Peak
position
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 61
Chart (2002) Peak
position[13]
US Billboard Hot 100 58
US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs 16
Chart (2012) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart 41
UK R&B Chart 14

References[edit]

External links[edit]