Letting The Cables Sleep
by Bush

Album: The Science of Things (1999)
Charted: 51
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about a close friend of Bush frontman lead singer Gavin Rossdale who had the HIV illness, but didn't tell anyone for six months because was ashamed. When Gavin found out, he felt real bad that his friend didn't feel comfortable talking about it, and wrote this about breaking the silence. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Davey - Leeds, England
  • The "cables" refer to power cables. "Letting the cables sleep" means turning off the electricity and taking a rest.
  • The video was directed by Joel Schumacher, who is responsible for the films The Lost Boys (1987), Flatliners (1990), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997). The band had to make it on short notice and has a limited opportunity to work with Schumacher. They had to postpone their UK tour to accommodate.

    Gavin Rossdale spends much of the video getting intimate with Michele Hicks, who appeared in the films Mulholland Drive and Twin Falls Idaho.
  • In the video, if you look closely, you'll see Gavin Rossdale is wearing a ring on his left hand. This could be him being married and visiting a girl he used to (and supposedly now doesn't) have feelings for. They end up having sex, and realize they still want to be together, but are too afraid to tell each other. The girl just leaves before she says something she will regret. Overall, it's a retrospective view of a relationship.
  • If you analyze the video, you see that when they touch there is color. As their hands touch, his world is tinted with her color. And when he smears paint on the walls, the colors are similar to the colors she wears, displaying a sense of longing. "Whatever you say is alright..." but she can't speak, adding some depth to the lyrics, and as she leaves she is signing to him that she's sorry. On the street you see that the bassist for Bush is playing on a corner, which is peculiar because a bass isn't really a solo instrument. The effects of color and their integration with the lyrics gives a great deal of meaning. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Carlos - NYC, NY

Comments: 12

  • Ginny from ItalyI don't agree with all your interpretations. Personally I believe it is the story of two lovers who cannot be together for several reasons, probably because they are already married or in a relationship with somebody else they don't love. As a result, they are forced to hide and meet in secret. In the long run that causes distress and arguments. Following an argument, they decide to meet in secret again in an empty property that is for sale where she has access to. They take some time before touching each other because they have not made up with each other yet. Eventually they do and make love but she is sad because she knows she cannot be with him. She feels she cannot destroy her marriage or tell her husband about her lover, her new relationship. Her lover wants her to end her relationship with her husband/boyfriend. She doesn't show any commitment or simply she feels impotent. As a result, he gets upset and starts painting the room walls. Eventually they leave the property and again have another argument outside in the street where she tries to explain with her sign language that she cannot go on like that and that she cannot tell her husband/boyfriend. If you notice he keeps asking "why" . Suddenly another man breaks in on their conversation, her actual husband, boyfriend etc. who takes her away, upset and worried because she had disappeared without calling him. Her lover has no other option but leave and forget about the secret relationship for good or for the time being.
  • Close To An End from Pennsylvaniaabout 13 years ago i found this song at just the right time, i had just broken up with a girlfriend that i loved very much over her drug use and 2 days later she killed herself. I ran away from my hometown to the city where i planned to end myself. I took it as this song was about the things she left unsaid that i wish we could have talked about instead of her doing what she did. I always thought of "The Cables" as her connection to this world which i needed to learn to deal with and let them sleep. I was in the middle of a city where after a week i became homeless so "i'm a stranger in this town" had literal meaning as i was and knew no one for atleast 500 miles. That was what this song meant to me and it truly saved my life. Listening to it over and over....
  • Claire77 from Pitt Meadows I always swore this song was about someone with terminal illness being kept alive by 'cables'
  • April from Newberry, Sc, ScHaving lost a friend just a few years ago... This song takes on a whole new meaning. Anytime someone is ill and they don't talk about it, then people feel like they were left out (silence is not the way, we need to talk about it). They lose the chance to spend more time with the dying person ( if Heaven is on the way we'll wrap our world around it). Watching the lights go down, letting the cables sleep is a wonderfully poetic way to describe watching the peaceful death of another person. I'm a stranger in this town... The way the survining person feels after the passing of a good friend. Like you have to start over, with new people in a new place, even if you don't move at all.

    Just another take.
  • Joel2point0 from Nashville, TnThis song could mean, a person has been keeping a secret for a long time, and they have just told their friend that secret. Now, their friend is expressing that feeling(of the secret) in this song. It doesn't necessarily have to mean the HIV virus. It could mean anything, for example: drugs, cheating, etc...
  • S from Mv, MdOkay, let me offer a proper interpretation of the video. Obviously the song is about a friend telling him that she's HIV positive. For the purpose I'm using Gavin as the character's name, not the actual person/singer. The video is a cautionary tail about unprotected encounters. The color red is used to demonstrate that. Red being the color of blood (infected blood). Also it's the color of the HIV/AIDS awareness ribbon. The lady's nails, dress, lips are all highlighted in red. As well as the writing on the wall and the man's guitar. There isn't much communication between the characters outwardly shown. The communication that is shown is flawed because the woman is deaf and reading lips, and Gavin isn't deaf and can't understand sign language. The theme of pursuit is shown throughout with cuts to each other mimicking body language and with the point-of-view shots. Gavin is shown as the one dominating her and initiating contact. I'm saying that this woman is probably a sex worker that Gavin is having an affair with. The writing on the wall is another nod to the undertone of HIV/AIDS. It's a visual representation of the turn of phrase. It's statement of fact, something supernatural and blatantly obvious. There is one shot where Gavin is visually caught red handed, meaning that his sexual impropriety has be revealed, possibly by his HIV status. But because of the woman's deafness it can't be clearly communicated. Also she's deaf for a reason: "Silence is not the way/ we need to talk about it". This is why it's a cautionary tail. It's saying that you need to communicate with your sex partners about your HIV status and your sexual history...even if she may be a sex worker.

    Moral of the story kids: practice safe sex, use a condom and get tested often.
  • N from Toronto, CanadaThere is an excellent remix of this song on a Cafe Del Mar compilation.
  • Ritti Soncco from Lima, PeruI believe the video for this was inspired by the Marlon Brando film "Last Tango in Paris", where a man and a woman view an apartment at the same time; the woman wears furs around her neck, and the man a long trenchcoat. The complete strangers make love.
  • Cipher from Shanghai, ChinaI love this song,when I hear it alone in the midnight it makes me cry,It's really gorgeous~
  • Alex from Narberth, PaThis song is gorgeous. It means a lot to me and it reminds me of my ex boyfriend who i still love a lot. Bush is an amazing band and they are able to uncover and unmask many feelings that we have all experienced but dont have a name for. such as "gravity owns our tears" thats a great line. (its not from this song but its a bush line). Bush is just so inspirational.
  • Heather from Mead, Nethis song is soooooooooo beautiful. i love it so much.to me its saying that he would do anything for this girl and that she's perfect in his eyes. but he's afraid of losing her so he says "whatever you say, its all right, whatever you do its all good." and i think he's saying he doesnt want to give up, because he knows she's the one he needs
  • Brittany from Superior, CoThis song is amazing.
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