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)

Kate Bush, The Motors and The Summer of 1978

Last time I shared a little film of my hometown, which highlighted just how blue the skies were on the first day of Spring. Since then, I have been feeling a bit nostalgic about the band ELO – That of course would be because the music I chose to accompany the film was Mr. Blue Sky, from their 1977 album “Out of the Blue”. The cover for that particular album was very memorable for me, because it was one of the pieces of artwork that graced the walls of the very basic cottage I shared with my best friend the summer after leaving school.

out of the blue

We had headed off to work in a very posh country house hotel and luckily for us accommodation came with the job. It was basic indeed, but we had our first taste of independence, with no parents hovering over us querying our movements – Needless to say that summer we worked hard (being a breakfast waitress plus hotel jack-of-all-trades is a tough gig) but also played hard – Living off the beaten track, we built up a good working relationship with Diamond Doug, our local taxi-driver who seemed to favour wearing a certain style of patterned jumper.

That summer, over the course of a weekend, it was not unusual to:

  • Work until 10pm.
  • Rush back to the cottage to change into our “going-out” clothes. (This being 1978 the previously under-used function suites of our local hotels had suddenly become kitted out with flashing dance floors and glitter balls as per the film Saturday Night Fever, but the clothes to match came later. That summer for us was still the summer of peasant skirts and broderie anglais tops as worn by Linda Ronstadt et al.)
  • Get picked up by Doug who would take us to our destination of choice by 11pm.
  • Bop until 1am (hoping that the last dance of the night, to the refrains of The Commodores mega-ballad Three Times A Lady, would be with one of our local T-Bird equivalents, that name taken from the summer’s other film phenomenon, Grease).
  • Have a bit of a smooch with the aforementioned T-Bird (who for one summer only had decided that girls of the Sandy persuasion were perhaps preferable to those of the Rizzo persuasion) whilst waiting for Doug to come and drive us home again, just in time to grab around 3 hours of sleep before getting up and doing it all over again!

The Summer of ’78 summed up for an 18-year-old girl!

Phew, I’m exhausted just writing about that so am amazed that my younger self managed to actually live life at that pace – The energy of youth. But back to the album cover for “Out of the Blue”, my friend Catriona definitely had that one up on her side of our bedroom wall, and I had some of my favourites over on mine. Looking at my album collection now, I can still tell which ones they were as they have those telltale blu tack, or even worse, sellotape marks on the covers. The vinyl itself must have been simply kept in the inner sleeve but was played constantly on the little mono record player I had brought from my parents’ house. It was the predecessor to the massive Toshiba Music Centre that had replaced it only 6 months previously, but I was never going to be allowed to take that with me, so the mono player it had to be.

Although our social life revolved around going dancing, we were both massive music fans and played anything and everything during our time off that summer. BBC Radio 1 woke us up and entertained us during the day but we also loved playing our records, and roped in friends and relatives to bring us new releases from record shops in the city when they came to visit. So, it was not only the soundtrack albums to Saturday Night Fever and Grease along with ELO and The Commodores we listened to that summer, oh no, it was also punk (Blondie, Sham 69), reggae (Bob Marley), pop and soft rock (Marshall Hain, Jackson Browne) and of course the obligatory novelty song (Father Abraham and the Smurfs!).

I still have one of the singles that Catriona’s sister bought on my behalf that summer – They didn’t really have many other hits and were short lived indeed but there was something about The Motors song Airport that I really liked and whenever I hear it now, I always think of that summer at the cottage with our mono record player.

Airport by The Motors:

As for my friend, the single she had requested, and which was duly delivered by her sister was this one by Kate Bush. Yes, The Man with the Child in His Eyes was also a hit that summer but I have just discovered that Kate actually first recorded it in 1975 and had written it three years earlier at the age of 13. To quote the title of another of her songs – Wow!

So, “What’s It All About?” – Funnily enough, when I sat down to write this post it was going to be all about ELO; about how it was actually the brainchild of Roy Wood; about how he soon moved on but left Jeff Lynne and the others to create something really quite amazing fusing modern rock and pop songs with classical instrumentation; about how Jeff’s partner for many years was the wonderful Rosie Vela whose song Magic Smile has been a bit of an earworm this week; but no, as is wont to happen, looking at the artwork for that ELO album cover just brought back so many memories of that wonderful summer.

The awful thing about reminiscing about the happenings of the summer of 1978 is that I can no longer talk about them with Catriona, as she died 16 years ago, leaving behind a husband and two young children. By then we were living on opposite sides of the Atlantic but if we ever got together, it was just like old times. I didn’t realise back then that I would never have such a close friendship with any other female, ever again. There have been many friends in the intervening years and some lovely friends are part of my life now, but how can you ever recreate what you had with the person you were closest to during those formative years, aged 16 to 21.

Before I go, here is a shot taken with my trusty Kodak Instamatic, of the little cottage Catriona and I shared that summer. Happy memories indeed of a very special person, who had her own magic smile. She made the world that little bit better for all of us who knew her and is sadly missed.

Our very basic cottage (garden needed a bit of tending!)

Until next time….

Airport Lyrics
(Song by Andrew McMaster)

So many destination faces going to so many places
Where the weather is much better
And the food is so much cheaper.
Well I help her with her baggage for her baggage is so heavy
I hear the plane is ready by the gateway to take my love away.
And I can’t believe that she really wants to leave me and it’s getting me so,
It’s getting me so.

Airport –
Airport, you’ve got a smiling face,
you took the one I love so far away
Fly her away – fly her away – airport.
Airport, you’ve got a smiling face
You took my lady to another place
Fly her away – fly her away.

The plane is on the move,
And the traces of the love we had in places
Are turning in my mind – how I wish I’d been much stronger
For the wheels are turning faster as I hear the winds are blowing
and I know that she is leaving
On the jet plane way down the runaway.
And I can’t believe that she really wants to leave me – and it’s
getting me so,
It’s getting me so.

Airport –
Airport, you’ve got a smiling face,…

Airport –
Airport, you’ve got a smiling face,…

Postscript:

As luck would have it I found another entry in my 1978 journal where I’ve jotted down a short and snappy review of the the two big movies Catriona and I went to see that summer, one at the beginning and one right at the end. Again, embarrassing to read my words from back then (and my penmanship seems to have deteriorated) but interesting all the same. Yet again I seem to have not been particularly impressed with either of these films at the time, yet they are now two of my favourites movies of all time – The nonchalance of youth!

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