Stranger Things and Kate Bush, ‘Running Up That Hill’

Now that I no longer take any heed of what is going on in the music charts, I get most of my inspiration for this blog from the music that pops into my life from other sources, one of those being the soundtracks to films and television dramas. It seems many others are the same and that’s why the charts of today, based on the volume of downloads/streams in the last week (I can’t pretend to understand it all), can sometimes be infiltrated with songs from the distant past.


Many of us who have just watched the first batch of episodes from the latest season of Stranger Things, seem to have been afflicted by an earworm, and it’s driven us to seek out this song in it’s entirety. Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush was first a hit for her in 1985, but because of it’s association with the popular science-fiction/horror drama set in ’80s Indiana, it’s right up there at the top of the UK Singles Chart again in 2022.

Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) by Kate Bush


I’m sure Ms Bush is quite bemused by all this sudden attention her song is receiving, especially as she now lives a fairly quiet life in an English village. Watching the clip for the song, she is just as I remember her – flowing hair, a leotard and an interpretive dance performance. She has appeared around here before and when I looked into her career back then I was shocked to find out how young she was when she wrote some of her most successful songs. A bit of a child prodigy that’s for sure.

As for Stranger Things, it seems to be the biggest thing on Netflix at the moment and like many other series affected by the pandemic (Ozark, Better Call Saul…), the season has been broken into two halves, as filming took much longer than usual. Only got a few weeks to wait until the final episodes air however and thankfully there seems to be a fifth season in the pipeline as most of the quality dramas have now ended for good (bar Saul, whose final few episodes, ever, will air soon).

The kids from Stranger Things
The kids from Buffy (plus Giles)

I can’t help compare Stranger Things to Buffy the Vampire Slayer which we became heavily invested in as a family 20 years ago. A bunch of small town kids from very different social groups come together to fight evil, the grown-ups and figures of authority seemingly unaware of, or unable to process, what is going on. The difference this time is that it’s a period drama and although to me, the ’80s doesn’t even feel that long ago, for most viewers it will seem like ancient history. If you lived through that time you will spot where they have got the period details, like the clothes and the hair, just right. Sometimes in the first season it was a bit off, but in season four the perms and shoulder pads are spot on. In case of giving away spoilers I won’t include a clip of the scene where Kate’s song is used (to great effect), but if you’ve already seen it, here is the link – not for the faint-hearted. It was apparently chosen because, ‘it’s deep chords connected with (the character) Max’s emotional struggles’. Gives us one of the best musical moments in television history.

Max levitates

I usually include a music clip in my posts but I get nervous about sharing something that is so current as you can fall foul of the ‘internet police’ and get a take down notice. Instead, as a treat for new fans of Kate Bush I will include one of her other songs, one to which I have a personal story attached, but perhaps for another day. Cloudbusting was also a big hit for her in 1985 and the video for it stars Donald Sutherland as an inventor/father trying to get his cloudbusting machine to work (inspired by Peter Reich’s 1973 Book of Dreams).

Cloudbusting by Kate Bush:


I’ve already mentioned around here that I seem to have become a bit of a telly addict since Lockdown 1, but I don’t suppose I’m alone. We as a family didn’t even have access to Netflix or the like when I started this blog so there were far fewer distractions of an evening and the quality of these distractions seem to be getting better year on year. What can I say, I’m a weak, weak woman – BUT, as a lover of music from decades past who is ‘revisiting the tracks of her years’, there is often something on a television soundtrack to enjoy, and I certainly don’t seem to have been alone in enjoying the unexpected musical star of Stranger Things Season 4. Way to go Kate – you have a new legion of young fans who are adept in the ways of the world wide web. Expect to be at the top of the charts for quite some time.

Until next time…

Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God) Lyrics
(Song by Kate Bush)

It doesn’t hurt me
Do you want to feel how it feels?
Do you want to know that it doesn’t hurt me?
Do you want to hear about the deal that I’m making?
You, it’s you and me

And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building
See if I only could, oh

You don’t want to hurt me
But see how deep the bullet lies
Unaware I’m tearing you asunder
Ooh, there is thunder in our hearts

Is there so much hate for the ones we love?
Tell me, we both matter, don’t we?
You, it’s you and me
It’s you and me won’t be unhappy

And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
Be running up that building
Say, if I only could, oh

You
It’s you and me
It’s you and me won’t be unhappy

C’mon, baby, c’mon darling
Let me steal this moment from you now
C’mon, angel, c’mon, c’mon, darling
Let’s exchange the experience, oh

And if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems

So if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems

So if I only could
I’d make a deal with God
And I’d get him to swap our places
Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems

So if I only could
Be running up that hill
With no problems

(If I only could, I’d be running up that hill)
(If I only could, I’d be running up that hill)

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

16 thoughts on “Stranger Things and Kate Bush, ‘Running Up That Hill’”

  1. I am glad for Kate that she is being exposed to a new audience, but I will be happier when the second part of the Stranger Things series is released, as it left us off with a lot of unanswered questions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is frustrating to have to wait a month for the concluding episodes but will be worth it I’m sure. Yes, not sure if Kate needs a new audience but good to see that quality transcends the decades.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry, didn’t realise you’d written about it this week already (otherwise I might have held off) but as you say great minds!

      How great is that – common ground as a talking point with teenagers. I was just saying to Mr WIAA, for DD it’s the equivalent of us watching a drama set in the early 50s, and there were many popular ones back in the day (Happy Days etc). For you, it’s just perfect – bet you see a lot of house decor and clothing that is very recognisable. As for the music and cultural references, some great moments, and all that on top of an excellent storyline. A win win.

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  2. Looks like we are not the only ones who are fans of Stranger Things, although I think this, like the final Ozark, is one series too many. If you want any tips for Netflix Korean programmes, let me know!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seems you have your mojo back!
      We subscribed to Netflix during lockdown but cancelled pretty soon after as bar a couple of things most of the stuff was rubbish!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m guessing that was a reply to me CC and not to George but maybe you know about George’s mojo better that I? Yes, my blogging has been sporadic after that really intense term at college and finding it hard to get into a routine again, but, to quote Kate, ‘Don’t’ Give Up’ now after all this time!

        Would have to disagree about Netflix as most of our ‘must-watch’ telly over the last few years has been on that platform. Too many to mention but some have been written about around here – Ozark, Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, Queen’s Gambit, Lupin, Call My Agent, After Life and many, many more, BUT, as I said I’ve become an addict (of an evening) whereas your first love I would guess is still music.

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    2. George: It’s certainly the biggest thing on Netflix at the moment and I had to watch that final feature-length episode twice to make sure I took it all in. I have a theory that 3 seasons of anything is enough. Season 1 we are getting to know the characters and warm to the thing, by season 2 we are heavily invested and that carries on to season 3. By season 4 they are usually just keeping the pot boiling and eking out the income stream although I have to admit that with both Stranger Things and Saul, I’m still invested. Enjoyed Sopranos right until the end although Buffy should have called it a day after season 5.

      We have watched Squid Games and the film Parasite was so clever – anything else I should watch?

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    1. She definitely had a purple patch around then. I’ve just added another song in the comments boxes, Don’t Give Up with Peter Gabriel – a real heart-wrencher.

      Like

  3. Oh I’m really missing out here… we still haven’t got round to getting Netflix (or Disney for that matter, so still haven’t seen Get Back). Keep hearing about Stranger Things, amongst others, and wondering… But we seem to struggle to cope with the stuff we record off Sky Arts, BBC Four (for now, until it goes online only, argh) and Talking Pictures and a few others, with an ever-increasing backlog of films, re-run episodes of The Prisoner and music documentaries to still to catch up on, I’m not sure we’ll manage anything else for now. I’m not quite sure how or why this has happened… somewhere out there must be a thief with a swag bag of time!
    But anyway… still good to be reminded of Kate Bush even though I can’t comment on Stranger Things. I have huge admiration for her always being so uncompromisingly individual, original, creative and private. Still remember hearing Wuthering Heights for the first time and wondering who on earth could be behind such a strange voice (she was definitely not what I imagined). Looking back it seems weirder still that it should be such a huge chart hit when it’s so off-the-wall, and is more refreshing proof that you don’t necessarily have to be conventional and mainstream to be exceedingly popular.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We only have Netflix because DD has subscribed for years – the young rarely watch conventional telly anymore. We have watched a lot of great drama though, many of which are mentioned in this post. Although I say I’m a telly addict I don’t sit glued to any old thing but with so much choice at our disposal nowadays there is always something new to work our way through. Might be best if you don’t get it as it sounds as if you have quite enough to enjoy as it is.

      I too remember the first time I saw Kate Bush on TOTP singing Wuthering Heights – how could you not! It was obvious she was one of a kind, and always with the interpretive dance. It’s been really nice being reminded of her via Stranger Things though and a whole new demographic will now discover her back catalogue.

      Like

  4. Since I see you’re doing your Friday night catch up, I thought I’d return the favour.

    I’m very much with you when you say that inspiration to write now comes “..from the music that pops into my life…”. Like you, my place used to be, largely, anecdotal stories of things that happened to me, and how that made me think of a song. But now, when I mostly work from home, to quote Del Amitri, “nothing ever happens”, so I have to rely on something falling into lap by way of, generally, a TV show – a song I hear which sparks a memory worthy of writing about, or which I might be able to link to something current or contemporary.

    I lost track with Stranger Things after S1, and keep meaning to go back and pick it up again, but I’ve not got round to it yet. Still to venture into the final chunk of Ozark. Better Call Saul remains better than Breaking Bad, and I can’t wait for the final set of episodes (I fear for Kim….)

    One which I would recommend not just because of the music featured which is just peachy every time, but because it’s genuinely very funny and tense and well written is The Outlaws. Binge-watched S2 this week, and it is chuffing brilliant.

    Race you to write about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for dropping by Jez – always a treat. You have a pivotal role in something that happened in my life this week, but all will be revealed in due course.

      Yes, I’ve realised my blog has now become a repository for songs that come into my life when watching telly, or paying a visit to the cinema. It’s also possible (and you might have found this too), that once you’ve been writing a blog matching ‘stories to songs’ for quite a few years, you’ve used up your pool of resources (and the reserves). The fact Kate Bush is now top of the UK Singles Chart again however (newsworthy enough for Hugh Edwards to tell us about it on the national news) shows just what an impact a good song can make when used in a popular drama. I’m sure Kate didn’t need it, but good to see a younger generation finding out about her.

      If you stopped watching Stranger Things after S1 maybe it just wasn’t for you but for any of us who have lived through the 80s, it’s a real trip down memory lane and they’ve got the period details just right. And there’s the music. We’ve loved it. As for Saul, can’t wait for the last few episodes and like you, I fear for Kim. We’re watching the Outlaws on a Sunday night and you’re right, it is brilliant. Good to see Stephen Merchant front and centre for once as well, as he’s just so talented and funny. The way things are going I will probably write about it here but a few episodes behind you so you’ll probably beat me to it.

      Liked by 1 person

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