“Running Up That Hill”, Kate Bush (1985)
Very much an original, you tend to either love or hate Kate Bush. Theatrical and bold, she has always gone her own way. From her excellent ‘Hounds of Love’ LP this song peaked at number 3 in the U.K. and was her first to chart in the U.S. since 1978.
Originally Kate a piano player by training titled this song “A Deal With God”, but EMI thought it would not get radio play in ‘religious’ countries so it was changed. According to Kate she said there would be a greater understanding if men and woman could swap places for a while to really understand the others point of view. Her first thought was the devil, but then she thought, why not God because then it would be much more powerful.
The first I heard of her was the song “Wuthering Heights” – eclectic and strange it was also alluring and different. Signed by EMI at age 16, she had been recommended by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. By age 19 she was the first woman in the U.K. to have a number one song that she wrote herself with the somewhat strange vocals of “Wuthering Heights”. Some of the songs on the album were from when she was as young as 13.
In 1980 she had another first in the U.K. – the first woman to enter the charts at number one for her album “Never For Ever”. In the U.S. this was virtually unheard of (well it did break into the top 100) maybe because the format was not radio-friendly in the U.S. and part of the impact of the song was visual. A student of dance, Kate expressed many of her songs through this medium, feeling that dance had become trivialized; she wanted to use it seriously again.
Kate was annoyed with the way EMI marketed ‘The Kick Inside” showing her in a pink top emphasizing her breasts. To New Musical Express magazine she said, “People weren't even generally aware that I wrote my own songs or played the piano. The media just promoted me as a female body. It's like I've had to prove that I'm an artist in a female body”
Her next few albums including “Lionheart” and “The Dreaming” were modestly received in the U.K.
In 1985 the album “Hounds of Love” was released. It knocked Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” out of the number one position. It garnered the hits “Hounds of Love”, “Running Up That Hill” and “Cloudbusting” in the U.K.1985 was also the year she did a top 10 hit with Peter Gabrial on “Don’t Give Up”, which appeared on his album “So”. “Running up that Hill” also reintroduced American listeners to Kate.
Kate continued to make more and more personal albums. 1989’s ‘Sensual World’ and 1993’s:”The Red Shoes’, both show a more mature song-writing. Oddly, ‘Sensual World’ became her best selling U.S. release selling over 500.000 copies.
Dropping out of public sight for many years Kate released ‘Aerial’ in 2005, and more recently the “Director’s Cut” in 2011.
Some of the songs I like, that are worth a listen include: “Hounds of Love”, “Violin”, “Rubberband Girl”, “Cloudbusting”, “Babooshka”, and “Sat in Your Lap”.
Kate Bush’s music is arguably a bit quirky and strange, but given sufficient time to listen to it and ponder her lyrics, you may be hooked. She is a true original.