What is the meaning behind the Kate Bush song Running Up That Hill?

The Kate Bush song Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) is back in the charts, but what is the meaning behind this classic hit from 1985?

Kate Bush song Running Up That Hill
(Image credit: Rob Verhorst / Contributor / Getty)

Kate Bush's song Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) is back in the charts and fans of this 80's hit are now questioning what the song actually means.

Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush has re-entered the charts despite the fact that it was first released almost 40 years ago. This has led to many people questioning, Why is Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill at number one? 

Thanks to Stranger Things Season 4, Running Up That Hill is now at the top of the charts in not just the UK, but in the US, and across the world. This is because Kate Bush's song plays a key part of the series set in the 1980s and plays during one impactful scene during episode four. 

For some younger viewers, this is the first time they have heard of Kate Bush and one of her most famous songs Running Up That Hill. This has led to many wondering what the song actually means and what exactly is the deal with God that Kate is alluding to.


Kate Bush reveals meaning behind Running Up That Hill

According to the singer Kate Bush herself, Running Up That Hill is about swapping places with another person to understand things from their perspective.

In a 2022 interview with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour (opens in new tab), following the success of the song in Stranger Things, Kate 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."

Unsurprisingly, this is the same answer that Kate has been giving for nearly the last four decades when she has been questioned about the song's meaning.

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In a 1985 interview with The New Music Kate explained the meaning of the song in more detail. "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. You know, all the little problems; there would be no problem," said Kate.

When speaking to the BBC (opens in new tab) in 1992 - seven years after the song came out - Kate further explained that she thought that trading places with your lover would only be possible by a deal with the devil, but she decided to flip this narrative for a more powerful message.

"Really the only way I could think it could be done was either… you know, I thought a deal with the devil, you know. And I thought, ‘well, no, why not a deal with God!’ You know, in a way it’s so much more powerful the whole idea of asking God to make a deal with you," said Kate.

Kate Bush

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Running Up That Hill originally had a different name

Originally, Kate wanted to name the song 'Deal with God' but her record label encouraged her to leave the word God out of the title. This was because of fears that the religious title would divide fans when this single from the Hounds of Love album was released. 

Speaking about this decision, Kate said in the same 1992 interview, "You see, for me, it is still called 'Deal With God', that was its title. But we were told that if we kept this title that it wouldn't be played in any of the religious countries, Italy wouldn't play it, France wouldn't play it, and Australia wouldn't play it! Ireland wouldn't play it, and that generally, we might get it blacked [black listed] purely because it had God in the title. Now I couldn't believe this and the title was such a part of the song's entity. I just couldn't understand it."

Stranger Things Kate Bush reference

If you haven't seen Stranger Things and you're still a bit confused as to why this song is picking up so much interest 37 years after it was released, it may be worth watching the snippet from Season 4 of the show that's inspired so much adoration from fans.

Of course, this is a spoiler for the fourth season of the show, so if you haven't watched it already, now may be the time to look away!

Fans also believe the significance of Kate Bush's lyrics are particularly important to the character in this scene, Max. In season three of the show Max's brother Billy was killed. Some think that as she continues to suffer after Billy's passing, the lyrics about swapping places with him or trying to understand him more are particularly applicable to her character.

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty, and fashion news, and loves to cover anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


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