Kate Bush has discussed the remarkable resurgent success of her 1985 song Running Up That Hill in her first interview since the song’s return to the charts.
Speaking to Emma Barnett on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Bush said the situation was “just extraordinary … quite shocking really, isn’t it? I mean, the whole world’s gone mad.”
Running Up That Hill is at No 1 in the UK charts and could spend a second week at the top on Friday despite high-profile new releases from Drake and Beyoncé. It is at No 5 in the US, down from a peak of No 4 last week, which made it her first US Top 10 hit.
The song is a key plot motif for the character Max Mayfield in the fourth season of hugely popular Netflix drama Stranger Things, which has created a whole generation of new Kate Bush fans.
“It’s such a great series, I thought that the track would get some attention. But I just never imagined that it would be anything like this,” Bush said. “The Duffer brothers created the series and actually we watched it from the first series onwards, so I was already familiar with the series. And I thought what a lovely way for the song to be used in such a positive way. You know, as a kind of talisman almost really for Max. And yeah, I think it’s very touching, actually.”
Earlier this month, series co-creator Matt Duffer said Bush’s music would return for the climactic two episodes of season four, released on July 1. “There’s an epic Kate Bush moment in the finale that we weren’t expecting, that we kind of discovered as we were editing,” he said. “The sequence was really cool and we were happy with it, but it was missing a little something. And I was like, ‘Well, let’s try Kate. Because when has Kate let us down?’ And it just took it to this new height. It’s arguably the most epic Kate Bush moment. It comes back in a major way.”
A new trailer for the final two episodes of Stranger Things has been released, featuring a pounding rework of Running Up That Hill.
Speaking to Barnett, Bush said she hadn’t listened to Running Up That Hill “for a really long time” before its return to the charts, adding: “I never listen to my old stuff.” She last performed it in 2014 for her theatrical London concert series Before the Dawn.
Bush said its original title was A Deal With God, but “I think they were just worried, the record company, that it wouldn’t get played on the radio. That people would feel it was a sensitive title.”
On the meaning of the song, she said: “I really like people to hear a song and take from it what they want. But originally it was written as the idea of a man and a woman swapping with each other. Just to feel what it was like, from the other side.”
In a previous interview in 1986, she elaborated on the song’s meaning, saying it was “about the fundamental differences between men and women, I suppose trying to remove those obstacles, being in someone else’s place; understanding how they see it, and hoping that would remove problems in the relationship.”
In her Radio 4 interview, Bush described 2022 as “an incredibly exciting time … OK, so it’s an awful time on a lot of levels for people. Very difficult. But it’s also a time when incredible things are happening. Technology is progressing at this incredible rate. That’s pretty overwhelming, really. But, you know, there’s so many advances in medicine and there are positive things – you just have to look a bit harder to find them at the moment, I think.”