Song written by Kate Bush. The song was reportedly written in one evening in the summer of 1983. It was the first song recorded for the subsequent fifth studio album Hounds Of Love. The electronic drums, programmed by Del Palmer, and the Fairlight part were present from the first recording of the song. The lyrics speak of Bush’s impossible wish to become her lover, and he her, so that they could know what the other felt. Kate played the first versions of the songs to Paul Hardiman on 6 October 1983. He commented later: “The first time I heard ‘Running Up That Hill’ it wasn’t a demo, it was a working start. We carried on working on Kate and Del’s original. Del had programmed the Linn drum  part, the basis of which we kept. I know we spent time working on the Fairlight melody/hook but the idea was there plus guide vocals.”

The track was worked on between 4 November and 6 December, with Stuart Elliott adding drums, but closely following the programmed pattern. Alan Murphy added guitar parts whereas Paddy Bush, always providing the most ingenious instruments, played the rather better known balalaika on this track.

The working title of ‘Running Up That Hill’ was ‘A Deal With God’. Representatives at EMI were hesitant to release the single as ‘A Deal With God’ due its use of the word ‘God’, which might lead to a negative reception. Bush relented and changed the title for the single. On the album and subsequent releases the title was ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)’.

The song was used on the soundtrack of the movie The Chocolate War in 1988. It was also used in the fourth season of the Netflix series Stranger Things, causing the song to reappear in various singles charts worldwide – and reaching number 8 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, improving on its original peak postion at number 30 in 1985. The song also re-entered the Australian singles chart at number 2, which beat the original peak at number 6 in 1985.


‘Running Up That Hill’ was released as a 7″ single and a 12″ single. In the UK, the 7″ single was first released in a gatefold sleeve; later issues had a ‘standard’ sleeve. The B-side of the 7″ single was Under The Ivy. On the 12″ single, there were three tracks: An extended and instrumental version of Running Up That Hill plus Under The Ivy.
In 2022 a limited edition CD-single was released, featuring the tracks of the 7″ single.


Four different versions of Running Up That Hill exist: the album version (which also appears on the single), an extended version, an instrumental version and an edited version clocking in at 3:24), released on an American promotional 7″ single.
There was also a remix of ‘Running Up That Hill’ by Dutch remixer Ben Liebrand, which was broadcast on Dutch radio in 1985, but never officially released. 27 years later, Kate Bush released a new version of the song as Running Up That Hill 2012.
A live version appears on the album Before The Dawn.

Music video

‘Running Up That Hill’ was intended as a fond farewell to dance, at least as far as Kate’s video appearances were concerned. The music video, directed by David Garfath, featured Bush and dancer Michael Hervieu (who won an audition after Stewart Avon-Arnold was not available due to other commitments) in a performance choreographed by Diane Grey. The pair are wearing grey Japanese hakamas. The choreography draws upon contemporary dance with a repeated gesture suggestive of drawing a bow and arrow (the gesture was made literal on the image for the single in which Bush poses with a real bow and arrow), intercut with surreal sequences of Bush and Hervieu searching through crowds of masked strangers. At the climax of the song, Bush’s partner withdraws from her and the two are then swept away from each other and down a long hall in opposite directions by an endless stream of anonymous figures wearing masks made from pictures of Bush and Hervieu’s faces.

MTV chose not to show this video (at the time of its original release) and instead used a live performance of the song recorded at a promotional appearance on the BBC TV show Wogan. According to Paddy Bush, ‘MTV weren’t particularly interested in broadcasting videos that didn’t have synchronized lip movements in them. They liked the idea of people singing songs’.


Kate performed ‘Running Up That Hill’ in a variety of TV programmes, both in the UK and in Europe. All of these performances were lipsynched.

5 August 1985: Wogan
22 August 1985: Top Of The Pops
30 August 1985: Show Vor Acht (Germany)
5 September 1985: Extratour (Germany)
21 September 1985: Demain C’est Dimanche (France)
September/October 1985: Jeu de la Verité (France)
30 November 1985: Peters Pop Show (Germany)

In 1987, Kate performed ‘Running Up That Hill’, singing live at Amnesty International’s Secret Policeman’s Third Ball with Dave Gilmour on guitar. This version was also released on an album.

In 2014, Kate performed ‘Running Up That Hill’ live during all the shows of Before The Dawn.

Critical reception

‘Running Up That Hill’ was greeted with almost universal acclaim.

I found myself seduced by the sheer strangeness.

Edwin Pouncey, Sounds, 10 August 1985

The voice gets deeper as the lyrics get shallower.

William Leith, NME, 10 August 1985

She’s precocious, dated, and dull. This record is dismally uninteresting.

Helen Fitzgerald, Melody Maker, 10 August 1985

One of her atmospheric epics, full of tension and controlled emotion.

Max Bell, No. 1, 10 August 1985

Comfortably reaffirms her position as our very finest female singer, songwriter and performer. I don’t expect to hear many better singles this year.

Mark Putterford, Kerrang!, 22 August 1985

Cover versions

‘Running Up That Hill’ has been covered by Adam West, Amalgamates, Tori Amos, Lav Andula, Baby Bushka, The Baltimores, Bambara, Bank Heist, Theo Bleckmann, Blue Pearl, Broke City, Cartouche, Casey Chisholm, Dmitry Chokan, Chromatics, Club for Five, C0ndu1t, Kiki Dee & Carmelo Luggeri, Kat Devlin, Distance, E-Clypse feat. Emma Price, Elastic Band, Faith and the Muse, First Aid Kit, John Forté, Four Day Hombre, Danielle French, Glaza, Goodknight Productions, Delta Goodrem & Stellar Perry, Göteborgs Symfoniker, H1987, Ham SandwichThe Hounds Of Love, Icon & the Black Roses, Intimacy For Beginners, Isadar, Karliene, Kiki & Herb, Yuri Kono, Iona Lane, LauscherNolwenn Leroy, Levy 9, Little BootsLochinvar, Lund Clements Churchill Trio, Thomas Mery & the Desert Fox, Skot Meyer, MphoMeg Myers, Night House, Nocturne Blue, Placebo, PS22 Chorus, Pub Choir, Purple Crush, Re-Touch, Niki Romijn, Rusty Tape, Serena, Sorrow Stories, The Split Infinitives, Superskunkz, Sweep feat. Linda Carriere, Thanateros, Thee Heavenly Music Association, Tiffany, Tilt!, TM Collective, Track And Field, Ultrawave, Unwoman, The William Blakes & Spleen United, Within Temptation, Patrick Wolf, Wye Oak and Peter Zimmermann.

Da Mode released a remix of  ‘Running Up That Hill’, entitled ‘Boosh’, in 2006.

Kate about ‘Running Up That Hill’

This song is very much about two people who are in love, and how the power of love is almost too big for them. It leaves them very insecure and in fear of losing each other. It’s also perhaps talking about some fundamental differences between men and women. (Kate Bush Club newsletter, 1985)

It is very much about the power of love, and the strength that is created between two people when they’re very much in love, but the strength can also be threatening, violent, dangerous as well as gentle, soothing, loving. And it’s saying that if these two people could swap places – if the man could become the woman and the woman the man, that perhaps they could understand the feelings of that other person in a truer way, understanding them from that gender’s point of view, and that perhaps there are very subtle differences between the sexes that can cause problems in a relationship, especially when people really do care about each other. (The Tony Myatt Interview, November 1985)

‘Running Up That Hill’ was one of the first songs that I wrote for the album. It was very nice for me that it was the first single released, I’d always hoped that would be the way. It’s very much about a relationship between a man and a woman who are deeply in love and they’re so concerned that things could go wrong – they have great insecurity, great fear of the relationship itself. It’s really saying if there’s a possibility of being able to swap places with each other that they’d understand how the other one felt, that when they were saying things that weren’t meant to hurt, that they weren’t meant sincerely, that they were just misunderstood. In some ways, I suppose the basic difference between men and women, where if we could swap places in a relationship, we’d understand each other better, but this, of course, is all theoretical anyway. (Open Interview, 1985)

It seems that the more you get to know a person, the greater the scope there is for misunderstanding. Sometimes you can hurt somebody purely accidentally or be afraid to tell them something because you think they might be hurt when really they’ll understand. So what that song is about is making a deal with God to let two people swap place so they’ll be able to see things from one another’s perspective. (Mike Nicholls, ‘The Girl Who Reached Wuthering Heights’. The London Times, 27 August 1985)

I was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman, can’t understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each others roles, if we could actually be in each others place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised! [Laughs] And I think it would be lead to a greater understanding. And 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, because in a way it’s so much more powerful the whole idea of asking God to make a deal with you. You see, for me it is still called “A Deal With God”, that was its title. But we weretoldthat 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 purely because it had “God” in the title. Now, I couldn’t believe this, this seemed completely ridiculous to me and the title was such a part of the song’s entity. I just couldn’t understand it. But none the less, although I was very unhappy about it, I felt unless I compromised that I was going to be cutting my own throat, you know, I’d just spent two, three years making an album and we weren’t gonna get this record played on the radio, if I was stubborn. So I felt I had to be grown up about this, so we changed it to ‘Running Up That Hill’. But it’s always something I’ve regretted doing, I must say. And normally I always regret any compromises that I make. (Richard Skinner, ‘Classic Albums interview: Hounds Of Love. Radio 1 (UK), aired 26 January 1992)

Highest chart positions

The chart positions in almost every country has improved in June 2022, as a result of the use of the song in Stranger Things season 4. This listing shows only the peak positions whether they were achieved in 1985/6 or 2022.

Australia: 1
Austria: 3
Belgium: 6
Canada: 2
Denmark: 6
Finland: 6
France: 3
Germany: 3
Ireland: 1
Italy: 18
Lithuania: 1
Netherlands: 3
New Zealand: 1
Norway: 4
Sweden: 1
Switzerland: 1
UK: 1
USA: 3


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.
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…

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.

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.

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.

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.”


Drums: Stuart Elliott
Bass: Del Palmer
Guitar: Alan Murphy
Balalaika: Paddy Bush


  • Running Up That Hill. Wikipedia, retrieved 28 October 2014
  • Graeme Thompson, Under The Ivy: The Life & Music Of Kate Bush, cop. 2012. ISBN 9781780381466
  • Krystyna Fitzgerald-Morris (ed.), Peter Fitzgerald-Morris (ed.) & Dave Cross (ed.), Homeground: The Kate Bush Magazine Anthology One, 2014. ISBN 978-1861714794