Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)

Today’s selection was English singer-songwriter Kate Bush’s most successful song of the 1980s. It opens her 1985 album Hounds of Love and was also issued as a 12-inch single record. I remember being very excited about the record’s release and buying the single and, later, the album. The single was released as “Running Up That Hill” as the record label EMI had concerns about using a title with God in it. The album version reverted to Bush’s original title.

A 2012 remix of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” was used during a segment of the closing ceremonies for that year’s Summer Olympics in London, England. The remix used the original music backing track transposed down slightly to match a change in Bush’s range when she re-recorded the vocal.

A few meanings have been attributed to the song, but it’s believed that Bush wrote the song about a man and a woman in love who can’t get along and the idea that if they could get God to arrange for them to swap places, they might understand each other better. Another view of the song is that one is discouraged by the struggles of life and actually wants to change places with the higher power, thinking that would ease the person’s burdens.

“‘If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.
If I only could, I’d be running up that hill.’

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…

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.

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.’”

“Running Up That Hill,” by Kate Bush.
Unofficial lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

The song has a captivating rhythm that takes some of its mystique from a sustained synthesizer line and Linn drum electronic percussion supplementing the drum kit. It’s a song I have returned to many times in more than 35 years of knowing it.

Bush performed the song in 1987 at the Secret Policeman’s Third Ball, the last in a series of benefit concerts to aid the human rights organization Amnesty International. Accompanying her was former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. In the mid-1970s, Gilmour, impressed by her talent, helped Bush get her start in the music business by producing a professional demo tape when record companies rejected her earlier efforts.

Now you know a little about why this is My Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here, and please enjoy.

Here is the official music video from the KateBushMusic YouTube channel:

And, the 1987 performance with Gilmour:

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