Sonic Youth performs Bull In the Heather live on the Late Show with David Letterman, 1994

2015/12/10 § Leave a comment

Taken from Sonic Youth’s eighth studio album, Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star, “Bull In the Heather” is a propulsive and sexy song, and can be interpreted as a euphemism for the potential of sexual intercourse. The bet aspect seems to be at the center of the track’s meaning, with the addressee “betting on the bull in the heather”.

Cited here is an entry from Thomas S. Caw‘s manuscript, Gender Trouble Girl: The Disruptive Work of Kim Gordon. Caw is the Senior Academic Librarian at the University of Wisconsin. Discussing the aforementioned track:

The name “Bull in the Heather” implies a gendered interpretation as to what is being bet on to win. A literal reading suggests a masculine force trampling small evergreen shrubs and devouring their delicate feminine flowers, as well as bringing to mind the optimistic aggression of a bullish stock market investor. Thoroughbred racehorses are most prized when they are young, with the peak age for racing performance being between three and four years of age. If a horse is a champion, it is retired soon after its peak in order to maximize its breeding potential. The entertainment industry is not quite so quick to put its talent out to pasture, but the window of time in which an entertainer can be considered youthful and attractive, and therefore a hot commodity, continues to shrink. This elevation of youthfulness as a desirable and marketable trait affects both men and women, but it disproportionately affects women.1

However you interpret “Bull In the Heather”, it is undoubtedly one of Sonic Youth’s most accessible tracks, coming from one of their best selling albums. Watch the way in which Kim Gordon owns these lyrics.


Thomas S. Caw: Gender Trouble Girl: The Disruptive Work of Kim Gordon. The University of Wisconsin, 2005.

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