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"Dress" is the debut single by English singer-songwriter PJ Harvey from her debut album Dry. Released in 1991, two promotional music videos were also recorded.

PJ Harvey - Dress.jpeg
Single by PJ Harvey
from the album Dry
ReleasedDecember 1991
FormatCD single, 12"
RecordedAutumn 1991
GenreIndie rock[1]
LabelToo Pure
Songwriter(s)PJ Harvey, Rob Ellis
Producer(s)Rob Ellis, Mark Vernon, PJ Harvey
PJ Harvey singles chronology
Audio sample


Background and historyEdit

"Dress" was recorded at Yeovil's Icehouse as part of the Dry sessions. The song, like the album, generated an overwhelmingly strong critical response, though the song failed to chart. John Peel described the song as 'admirable, if not always enjoyable' after playing it for the first time on his radio show.

Lyrics tell the story of a woman who's trying to impress a certain man with a dress ("Must be a way that I can dress to please him"). She finds the dress pretty uncomfortable ("It's hard to walk in the dress, it's not easy/I'm spilling over like a heavy loaded fruit tree"), but she's hoping it will help her to ("Close up my eyes/Dreamy dreamy music make it be alright").

At the end of the song the man doesn't appreciate the dress ("You purdy thang, my man says,/But I bought you beautiful dresses.") and she falls on the floor, causes big embarrassment on her. ("I'm falling flat and my arms are empty/Clear the way better get it out of this room")

Track listingEdit

All songs written by PJ Harvey, unless where noted.

UK CD and 12" single (Too Pure, PURE CD/5)[2][3]

  1. Dress (PJ Harvey, Rob Ellis) - 3:18
  2. Water - 4:35
  3. Dry - 3:36

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Dress" was directed by Harvey's friend Maria Mochnacz, who would direct numerous videos for Harvey and design album and single art for her later in her career. It was the first video Mochnacz ever shot and as she and Harvey were short on money they could only afford to buy and process 12 minutes of film. As a result of this some parts of the video are repeated and played backwards. The video was shot in black and white on a 16mm Bolex Camera in a circus school in Bristol called 'Fooltime', and consists of Harvey lying on the floor as a giant ballerina stencil is assembled in stop motion around her, as well as Harvey spinning in a dress and a body double swinging from a trapeze.[4]


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "PJ Harvey". Allmusic. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  2. ^ Discogs, P J Harvey* - Dress at Discogs Retrieved from on 26 April 2010.
  3. ^ Harvey, PJ PJ Harvey[permanent dead link] Retrieved from on 26 April 2010.
  4. ^