The meaning behind Kate Bush’s iconic Running Up That Hill

Chris Weston June 6, 2022
The meaning behind Kate Bush’s iconic Running Up That Hill

It’s always interesting to reminisce when the love for some of our favourite musicians began.

Did you hear them at a friend’s house? In a bar? There are so many ways to discover an artist, including through TV. Indeed, Stranger Things has just introduced thousands of new listeners to the wonderful and wholly singular world of Kate Bush. 

The 63-year-old English singer-songwriter released her debut album The Kick Inside in 1978, igniting an obsession thanks to hit singles like Wuthering Heights. 

Even today, nobody sounds quite like Kate Bush – she is a marvel admired by musicians and casual music fans alike. Most would agree that her monumental achievement remains her fifth album, 1985’s Hounds Of Love. 

The introductory track features heavily in Stranger Things season 4 and has made the beloved cut a chart-topping hit decades after its release. However, with such grand exposure, audiences are curious about the meaning behind Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill.

STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, and Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

The meaning of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill

Dissecting the lyrical content of Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God), the lyric of “running up that hill” refers to struggle and effort; it must be judged and understood in the wider context of the song’s overall meaning.

On the whole, Running Up That Hill’s lyrics tell the story of a couple who wish they could make a deal with God and swap lives with the other. 

Smooth Radio reports that Kate Bush has previously gone on record to explain:

“It’s about a relationship between a man and a woman. They love each other very much, and the power of the relationship is something that gets in the way. It creates insecurities. It’s saying if the man could be the woman and the woman the man, if they could make a deal with God, to change places, that they’d understand what it’s like to be the other person and perhaps it would clear up misunderstandings.”

She continued during the 1985 interview: “You know, all the little problems; there would be no problem.”

So, the “running up that hill” lyric essentially suggests that the person wishing to swap places feels that they’d be able to run up that hill – run up that road, run up that building – if they were able to swap places. They believe it would allow them to achieve clarity and see things “with no problems”, as the concluding lyric announces. 

Stranger Things 4 | Volume 1 Final Trailer | Netflix

Stranger Things 4 | Volume 1 Final Trailer | Netflix

‘It’s all really exciting’

NME reports that Running Up That Hill has enjoyed a 153% increase in streams this week after the release of new Stranger Things episodes. 

Not only has the song re-entered the Top 10 of the Official UK Singles Chart, but Kate Bush herself has responded to the single resurgence of success on her official website

“It’s all really exciting,” she admitted, after also declaring her love for Stranger Things. “Thanks very much to everyone who has supported the song. I wait with bated breath for the rest of the series in July. Best wishes, Kate.”

Although she’s an absolute icon amongst music enthusiasts, it’s great to see her wonderful catalogue being discovered by a younger generation. 

I just know that something good is gonna happen

Plenty of fans have hopped onto Twitter to express their love for Kate Bush.

Check out a selection of tweets:

Stranger Things season 4 part 2 hits Netflix on Friday, July 1st 2022.

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Chris has a First Class Film and Journalism (Joint Honours) degree from De Montfort University and previously studied film at A-level, making him HITC’s resident movie guy. Chris's passion for all things cinema has been with him from a very young age and he has written for a number of publications, from Taste of Cinema to local sites. He has been with HITC for a five years, exploring the world of film and television while looking out for the latest titles to excite and inspire audiences.