Why We Like… “Running Up That Hill” By Kate Bush

Jeremy Gordon

She stands alone and tall, like the goddess Athena, entrenched like a lighthouse beckoning men stranded at sea not to give up, to keep on rowing until they can see the shore. Each word from her mouth sounds like a rose petal spread on a bedsheet, calling its lover back home to rest. Outside the window lightning cracks, illuminating her face like a frightening obelisk, solemn as everyone bows down in awe. Inside, the drums go on and on and on.

I first heard Kate Bush on a compilation CD in the summer of 2008 but never paid her any attention. Later that fall in London, I stood inside a dark kitchen with my friends, drunk off cheap cider, watching as two of them clasped each other by the shoulder, close to tears as her siren voice echoed through the room. The bridge of the song (in which Kate finds herself on top of a mountain, crying to her lover to revel in the moment of understanding) – eternal as it is, brought us all to the height of nostalgia we hadn’t even begun to feel. Months later, I read about Kate’s reclusiveness, how she never toured after releasing her first album, how she wanted every music video and recording she released to be immaculate. Live performance couldn’t give her the perfection she needed.

“Running Up That Hill” is Kate Bush’s proudest moment, not because it’s necessarily her best song (although I like it the most) but because it’s where she stands strongest, making a pledge to her lover and to her God while standing in the light, pleading us – the listener – to never let go. The drums, like the pattering of feet on a hard floor, are like her really running up that hill, toward something she can’t see but can only feel. “Unaware, I’m tearing you asunder / There is thunder in our hearts,” she sings, near tears. She invites us to feel with her, like the proud Athena, until we find a truth.