Deeper Understanding

Album: The Sensual World (1989)

Songfacts®:

  • The song's subject matter of a person relying on a computer for emotional solace was interesting in 1989 when Bush recorded it for her The Sensual World album. If we fast forward to the 21st century where millions of adolescents are locked away in their bedrooms with just their computer games for company, this track takes on a far greater significance. Bush re-recorded the song for her 2011 album, Directors Cut, which revisited a selection of tracks from The Sensual World and The Red Shoes and released it as a single. This new version features added synthesizer, harmonica and the voice of Bush's son, Albert.
  • In a 1989 interview with NME, Bush voiced her frustration that people think such songs must be personal: "A lot of people will think these songs are about me," she said. "I've always had that and like, with 'Deeper Understanding,' people react immediately saying, 'Is this autobiographical? So you're into computers now? So you spend all night on computers?' People immediately switch on to the mechanicalness. It's a song about computers so she must be into computers!"
  • The song features backing vocals by the Bulgarian vocal ensemble the Trio Bulgarka. It was Bush's brother Paddy's obsession with obscure European musicians that encouraged Kate to check out the Bulgarian trio and try to harness their voices with her own. "For Bulgaria, the terrific amount of suffering they've gone through is so apparent in the music, so spiritually powerful and intense that, it you let it, it'd just rip you apart," she told the NME.
  • A video for the 2011 version of the track included an appearance from comic Noel Fielding, who had previously mimicked Bush on BBC One's Let's Dance For Comic Relief. The short film was directed by Bush herself and also stars Robbie Coltrane, Frances Barber, and her son Albert, who plays the role of the computer program.
  • Bush was one of the first UK artists to own a Fairlight CMI, the digital sampling synthesizer that would become a staple of '80s pop records, and perhaps as a consequence her relationship with technology is conflicted. Whilst Kate, the artist, embraces technology's liberating capabilities, Kate, the private individual fears its potential to denude the human spirit. In the Director's Cut version, it is Bush's 12-year-old son Bertie who provided the computer's voice. She told Mojo magazine: "I loved the idea of a child being inside the computer: bringing you 'love and deeper understanding.'

    I do think that the technology we have now is absolutely incredible. It's like we're starting to live the sci-fi world that used to be imagined. Like everything, it's got enormous pros and cons. The access to information, the speed of communication, it's fantastic. But mobile phones, their convenience - that was the first enslavement that came to us in a seriously big way, to the point where now everybody is contactable all the time. I try to not use it a lot. The structure of my day is morning and evening with the computer, but in the day I'm normally in the studio and don't have access to a computer because otherwise I just wouldn't be able to work. It does make it pretty intense: when I get in the evening there's a whole load of stuff I have to do. But I prefer it that way."

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