Infant Kiss

Album: Never For Ever (1980)

Songfacts®:

  • In Passion Always Wins, an in-depth interview with Phil Sutcliffe published in the August 30, 1980 issue of Sounds, composer and performer Kate Bush said she'd never heard the word paedophilia before.

    "Infant Kiss" isn't quite about such taboo subjects, although it comes pretty close. The song was inspired by the 1961 film The Innocents, which is based on the 1898 novel The Turn Of The Screw by the American author Henry James.
    The Innocents was shot in black and white; set in then contemporary England and featuring Deborah Kerr in the title role as the newly appointed governess of a young girl and her older brother. Almost from the beginning, weird things happen, and the governess senses that her charges, especially the boy, are haunted or possessed by a mysterious man whom she sees, or thinks she sees, intermittently.

    In one scene where she puts the boy to bed he asks her to kiss him goodnight, throws his arms around her, and kisses her passionately - the message being, obviously, that it is not the boy but a spirit possession who is kissing her.

    The predecessor of the confused governess and her illicit lover had died in mysterious circumstances, but like the book, the film leaves much to the imagination. It has a tragic ending.

    Kate Bush was able to get away with this on account of her gender, and because in the 1980s, even the inference of paedophilia wasn't met with the outrage it does today. If such a song had been recorded by the (later) disgraced Gary Glitter, it would have been a different ball game entirely. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England
  • The subject of pedophilia was brought up again in a 1980 interview with Melody Maker, and Kate insisted her tune wasn't about that at all. "It would worry me if people mixed it up with that because that's exactly what worries her so much," she said of the character in the song. "I find that distortion very fascinating and quite sad. And frightening. The thought of someone old and evil being inside a young and pure shell, it's freaky."
  • In order to identify with the woman she was singing about, Kate imagined being around a child and "seeing something in their eyes you don't want to see." She added: "It's like when a tiny kid turns round and says to you, 'You're a bastard' or 'F--k off': it's instinctive to feel repulsed by it. That experience into a different situation. Otherwise I'd be writing and singing about situations I've never experienced, and in order to be convincing you have to have a certain amount of knowledge and conviction. It's a strange mixture, I know, but I rarely write purely personal songs from experience."

Comments: 1

  • Todd from Oakville, OnKate also recorded a version of this song with French lyrics under the title "Un Baiser D'enfant". It was released as single, with the b-side being another song of her's with French lyrics "Ne T'enfuis Pas"
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Album Cover Inspirations

Album Cover InspirationsSong Writing

Some album art was at least "inspired" by others. A look at some very similar covers.

Spot The Real Red Hot Chili Peppers Song Titles

Spot The Real Red Hot Chili Peppers Song TitlesMusic Quiz

The Red Hot Chili Peppers have some rather unusual song titles - see if you can spot the real ones.

Weezer

WeezerFact or Fiction

Did Rivers Cuomo grow up on a commune? Why did they name their albums after colors? See how well you know your Weezer in this Fact or Fiction.

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many Songs

Who's Johnny, And Why Does He Show Up In So Many SongsSong Writing

For songwriters, Johnny represents the American man. He has been angry, cool, magic, a rebel and, of course, marching home.

Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

Steven Tyler of AerosmithSongwriter Interviews

Tyler talks about his true love: songwriting. How he identifies the beauty in a melody and turns sorrow into art.

Country Song Titles

Country Song TitlesFact or Fiction

Country songs with titles so bizarre they can't possibly be real... or can they?