Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill: Lyrics, Meaning

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Image Source: YouTube user Still Watching Netflix

Whether with its unique storyline, vintage fashion and beauty moments, or a nostalgic ode to the ’80s with its timeless soundtrack, “Stranger Things” always hits the sweet spot, and its latest installment is no exception. The sci-fi Netflix original set in the ’80s features impeccable, classic hits from the era that thematically coincide with the show’s most pivotal moments. Now, the long-delayed season four of “Stranger Things” incorporates music to even greater effect, as it serves as an anecdote to the psychological curse of the brand new Upside Down monster, Vecna. Kate Bush’s 1985 hit “Running Up That Hill” is one such number that singlehandedly saves Max’s (Sadie Sink) life in the fan-favorite episode “Dear Billy.”

Following its feature on the series, the song skyrocketed straight to No. 1 on US iTunes and has garnered millions of daily streams worldwide, shooting it to the top of the Global Spotify Charts. The 63-year-old singer-songwriter behind the breakout track recently expressed gratitude for the outpouring of love from a younger audience who discovered her discography through “Stranger Things.” Read on for a breakdown of the poignant lyrics of the uptempo number and how it mirrors Max’s personal journey through season four.

Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” Lyrics

The lyrics of “Running Up That Hill” in full are as below:

Verse 1
It doesn’t hurt me (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)
Do you want to feel how it feels? (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)
Do you want to know, know that it doesn’t hurt me? (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)

Do you want to hear about the deal that I’m making? (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)

Pre-Chorus
You
It’s you and me

Chorus: 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

Verse 2
You don’t want to hurt me (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)
But see how deep the bullet lies (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)
Unaware, I’m tearing you asunder (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)
Oh, there is thunder in our hearts (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)
Is there so much hate for the ones we love? (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)
Tell me, we both matter, don’t we? (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)

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

Chorus
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 (Ye-yo)
Say, if I only could, oh

Prechorus
You (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)
It’s you and me
It’s you and me, won’t be unhappy (Ye-yeah, yeah, yo)

Bridge
Oh, come on, baby (Ye-yeah)
Oh, come on, darling (Ye-yo)
Let me steal this moment from you now
Oh, come on, angel (Yeah)
Come on, come on, darling
Let’s exchange the experience (Ye-oh, ooh, ooh)

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

Outro
Say, if I only could
Be running up that hill
With no problems
If I only could, be running up that hill
If I only could, be running up that hill

What Do Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” Lyrics Mean?

Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” touches on the strong desire to want to put one’s self in their loved one’s shoes so they can understand what goes on in their mind. During a 1992 on-air interview with Richard Skinner on Radio 1, Bush explained the inspiration behind the song, saying that she 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 other’s roles, if we could actually be in each other’s place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised! And I think it would lead to a greater understanding.”

Bush also opened up about the inspiration behind the parenthetical title “A Deal With God,” which follows the title. “Really the only way I could think it could be done was either . . . you know, I thought a deal with the devil,” she said. “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.” Though in her mind the song is still called “Deal With God,” she decided against it to avoid religious controversy.

How Does Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” Fit Into “Stranger Things” Season 4?

Part of what makes Vecna so very dangerous is that it targets isolated victims who are emotionally tormented and, thus, easier to invade the minds of. Following Billy’s brutal death in the season three finale, Max suffered with PTSD in the eight months before season four picks up, a show of just how much her stepbrother’s death impacted her. Additionally, she’s broken up with her boyfriend, Lucas, and distanced herself from her friends. Her opening scene in season four shows her walking down the school hallways with her Walkman on as she blasts “Running Up That Hill” on repeat, which has become her solace among the turmoil.

As Vecna’s curse worsens, she has a feeling that she might not have long before he strikes a final blow. In anticipation of her imminent death, she writes heartfelt letters to everyone close to her as a way to say goodbye. While visiting Billy’s grave, she takes the one addressed to him and reads it aloud. Her words echo the survivor’s guilt she’s been experiencing ever since the Battle of Starcourt. “I play that moment back in my head all the time. And sometimes, I imagine myself running to you, pulling you away. I imagine that if I had, that you would still be here. And everything would be right again,” the letter reads. She expresses how she’d do things differently if only she could get a do-over.

It makes sense that “Running Up That Hill” comforts her since the lyrics apply to her situation perfectly. The chorus could be seen as Max hoping and praying for a miracle that could somehow make her swap places with Billy and save him if she was in his place.

It is then this song and its visceral lyrics that ultimately save Max when Vecna is moments away from sucking the life out of her. As soon as Dustin, Lucas, and Steve put the song on for Max, the soothing embrace of the lyrics guides her to open up a portal back to our realm as she basically runs up a hill trying to get back to her friends.

Watch the full scene below!





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