Kate Bush’s “Deal With God”

Kate with bow and arrow – the original 1985 single cover.

Fierce and passionate.

The 2022 success of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)”, courtesy of the Duffer Brothers Strange Things Season 4, exemplifies the enduring force of this song. A song written and produced by Kate Bush, it remains a sparkling jewel in her treasure trove of music.

Can you imagine swapping places with your lover? Feeling what they feel? Understanding their perspective? Experiencing their orgasm? “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” is Bush’s passionate plea to become her lover, to feel her lover’s desires, to understand why miscommunication exists, to know what makes this person the person she wants to be with.

The song starts with the ominous drone sound, the rumbling electronic drums at 108 bpm, and the idiosyncratic Fairlight synthesiser riff that permeates the track – she starts the song with a lie, “it doesn’t hurt me” – but then probes her lover further – “do you want to know, know that it doesn’t hurt me? She has a desire to feel what her lover feels and hopes he can feel what she feels – and the only way she make it happen is to make a clandestine deal with an unearthly force. Bush said that when she wrote the song, she initially thought about making a deal with the devil to do the swap – but found making a deal with God much more powerful.

The song was initially called “A Deal With God” – but Kate was told that if it was called that, many countries around the world, including the USA would not play it. She made a compromise – probably the only one in her career – and changed the title to “Running Up That Hill” but keeping “A Deal With God” in parenthesis.

The song builds, always at the peak of emotion, the backing vocals expressing the building of that crescendo, as she sings about the pain of the relationship – tells her lover that “you don’t want to hurt me/but see how deep the bullet lies” – that feeling of hate, being torn apart – all by the one that is supposed to love you.

The song reaches a point where guitars, bass, the balalaika, drums and Kate’s voices swirl in the orgasm of the track, the crescendo of knowing what that person feels, that moment of “exchanging the experience” – the song remains an artistic yet commercial high for Bush, an enduring and passionate song that makes you feel, where love, hate and sex entwine. A song that should be appreciated by all generations.

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