Thanks to the popularity of Stranger Things‘ music-heavy fourth season and social media, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” has climbed up to the very top of music charts around the world 37 years after the song initially released. A number of Bush’s longtime (and generally older) fans have felt a type of way about younger people discovering her music for themselves by way of a sci-fi love letter to the ’80s. But Bush — herself a long time Stranger Things fan — sees the sudden resurgence of interest in “Running Up That Hill” as an exciting and touching testament to the power of art.
In a recent interview with BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Bush — who generally doesn’t speak to the public — opened up about what it’s been like to watch a new generation turn one of her classics into a present-day hit. Though Bush was already hooked on Stranger Things long before Netflix and the Duffer brothers called her up, she didn’t expect to ever become involved in the show’s lore, and the experience has all felt very much like “the whole world’s gone mad.”
“What’s really wonderful, I think, is that this is a whole new audience who, in a lot of cases, they’d never heard of me,” Bush said. “And I love that — the sort of all these really young people hearing the song for the first time and discovering it is, well, I think it’s very special.”
In the first half of Stranger Things 4, Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) and the other Hawkins kids discover that the only thing that can keep them safe from Vecna — the latest murderous terror that’s crawled out of the Upside Down — is by listening to songs they love. In most cases, Vecna psychically stalks his victims from another dimension before pulling them to him and tearing their bodies apart, but Max is able to break free from his thrall thanks to the cassette of “Running Up That Hill” that’s lived in his Walkman all season.
Thought Stranger Things has always spotlighted pop cultural touchstones that shaped the ’80s, Max’s fixation on “Running Up That Hill” is also part of the series’ exploration of how the character’s still grieving her brother Billy’s death in season 3.
While Bush wrote “Running Up That Hill” as a love song, she said that she was touched by the way Stranger Things frames the track as a kind of emotional talisman for Max and a fitting choice for the series as its characters evolve and grow up with its actors.
“It’s lovely in a similar way to Harry Potter where in those early films that are just little kids,” Bush said. “And then as the film is progressed, it becomes heavier and darker, and those little kids turn into really talented young adult actors. You have a different connection with something that’s the moved through years, really, of watching them grow.”
Like many of her diehard fans who are precious about her music, she has her own relationship to “Running Up That Hill,” a song about a man and a woman longing to swap places with one another “just to feel what it was like from the other side.”
Though Bush still very much thinks of the song as “A Deal with God” — the title she originally intended to give it — in her mind, she emphasized the importance of people being able to take what they want from art. As wrapped up in nostalgia as “Running Up That Hill” may be for some people, it’s part of the now for others, which is why Bush is focused on living in the moment.
“I mean, there was some great music in the ’80s, but I think it’s an incredibly exciting time we’re in now,” Bush said. “Okay, so it’s an awful time on a lot of levels for people. Very difficult. But it’s also a time when incredible things are happening. Technology is progressing at this incredible rate that’s pretty overwhelming, really. But, you know, there’s so many advances in medicine, and there are positive things. You just have to look a bit harder to find them at the moment.”
Stranger Things 4 Vol. 2 Netflix hits on July 1st.