Kate Bush gave her first interview today (June 22) on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour about the improbable resurgence of her 1985 song “Running Up That Hill” following its prominent usage in the current fourth season of Netflix’s Stranger Things, calling it “just extraordinary. I thought that the track would get some attention, but I just never imagined that it’d be anything like this. It’s so exciting that it’s quite shocking really, isn’t it? The whole world has gone mad.”
The song has rocketed to the top of the charts around the world and reached No. 4 on The Billboard Hot 100, Bush’s first-ever top 5 appearance on that tally. “The thought of all these really young people hearing the song for the first time and discovering it, well, I think it’s very special,” Bush, 63, told presenter Emma Barnett.
Asked what “Running Up That Hill” is about, Bush 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 places with each other, just to feel what it’s like from the other side.” The song’s original name was “A Deal With God,” but it was initially changed due to record label EMI’s fear that “it wouldn’t get played on the radio — that people would feel it was a sensitive title.” It was listed as “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” upon its subsequent release on Bush’s album Hounds of Love and has retained that title ever since.
Bush is thrilled the song plays such a key role in the Stranger Things storyline of the teenage female character Max, telling Barnett, “I think they put it in a really special place. I thought, what a lovely way for the song to be used in such a positive way, as a kind of talisman almost really for Max. I think it’s very touching, actually. I think music is very special. It’s different from all other art forms, isn’t it, in a way? Music has a way of touching people.”
Following her initial ’80s success, Bush famously stopped performing live and went as long as 12 years between releasing new music, a streak she finally broke with 2005’s Aerial. She returned to the concert stage in 2014 with a cell phone-prohibited 22-night residency at London’s Hammersmith Apollo, but has not performed in public since.
“We were working in what was quite a small theatre, and I wanted there to be a really strong connection between the audience and everyone on stage,” Bush explained. “Phones are very distracting. We were trying to create an atmosphere with what we were doing, and I think it did give a stronger connection to the whole process.”
For now, Bush is content with what she calls an “ancient” cell phone, remains blissfully unaware of the myriad new TikTok trends inspired by “Running Up That Hill” (“It certainly sounds ridiculous,” she said with a laugh) and is spending a lot of time gardening. “Gardening’s my thing now, I think,” she said.
A remix of “Running Up That Hill” is featured in a newly released trailer for the final two episodes of this season of Stranger Things, which will be released July 1.