This song is about making a deal with God to swap lives with another person. Bush explained in a 1985 interview: "It's about a relationship between a man and a woman. They love each other very much, and the power of the relationship is something that gets in the way. It creates insecurities. It's saying if the man could be the woman and the woman the man, if they could make a deal with God, to change places, that they'd understand what it's like to be the other person and perhaps it would clear up misunderstandings. You know, all the little problems; there would be no problem."
Bush wrote this with the title "Deal With God." Her label made her change it because they didn't think radio stations would play a song with "God" in the title. Bush still regrets letting them rename her song, but her previous album didn't do very well and she wanted to make sure this got airplay.
Bush's record company wanted to release "Cloudbusting
" as the first single, but Kate convinced them to release this instead. Since they had already renamed her song, it was considered a compromise.
This was Bush's biggest hit in the US. She is very popular in the UK, but remains mostly unknown in America.
A version by British band Placebo was recorded for their 2007 Covers album. It entered the UK singles chart in January 2010 as a result of its use in the theatrical trailer for the feature film Daybreakers.
A new version of the song, subtitled "2012 Remix," reached #6 on the UK singles chart in August 2012. The track was transposed down a semitone to fit Bush's current lower vocal range and was premiered during the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony. Bush did not appear in person, but the recording was featured in a crucial section after the athletes entered.
Bush wrote this using a Fairlight digital synthesizer.
Bush often used interpretive dancing in her music videos to express the emotion of her songs. By the time she released "Running Up That Hill" in 1985, she felt the art was being cheapened by the newer crop of talent on MTV. She explained in a 1985 TV interview with Canada's Good Rockin' Tonight: "During the gap between the last and this album, I'd seen quite a few videos on television that other people had been doing. And I felt that dance, something that we'd been working in, particularly in the earlier videos... was being used quite trivially, it was being exploited: haphazard images, busy, lots of dances, without really the serious expression, and wonderful expression, that dance can give. So we felt how interesting it would be to make a very simple routine between two people, almost classic, and very simply filmed. So that's what we tried, really, to do a serious piece of dance."
Clad in Japanese hakamas, Bush and her dance partner, Michael Hervieu, perform an intimate dance routine before they're torn apart by a crowd of masked strangers. The dancers' archery-inspired gestures are referenced in the single's cover art, which features Bush brandishing a bow and arrow. The clip was directed by David Garfath and choreographed by Diane Grey.
Instead of airing the music video, MTV decided to use footage from Bush's performance on a BBC TV program. According to the singer's brother Paddy Bush, "MTV weren't particularly interested in broadcasting videos that didn't have synchronized lip movements in them. They liked the idea of people singing songs."
This was used in these TV shows:
On Becoming A God In Central Florida ("American Merchandise" - 2019)
Big Little Lies ("The Bad Mother" - 2019)
How To Get Away With Murder ("We Know Everything" - 2019)
Vanity Fair ("In Which Becky Joins Her Regiment" - 2018)
Warehouse 13 ("Emily Lake" - 2011)
NCIS: Los Angeles ("Empty Quiver" - 2011)
The Vampire Diaries ("Pilot" - 2009)
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation ("A La Cart" - 2007)
Bones ("Judas On A Pole" - 2006)
The O.C. ("The Avengers" - 2006)
And in these movies:
The Circle (2015)
The Human Contract (2008)
The Chocolate War (1988)
The Los Angeles singer-songwriter Meg Myers released a popular cover in 2019 with a video
that got over 2 million YouTube view. Said Myers: "This song to me, represents an opening of our hearts and a possibility of acceptance for all."
Her version dawdled, rather than ran, up Billboard's Rock Airplay chart. 42 weeks after its release, it reached the top spot on the tally, giving Myers the first #1 Billboard single of her career. That's the longest any track has taken to conquer the Alternative Songs summit.
Prior to Meg Myers, the record was held by Fitz and the Tantrums, who took 33 weeks to top Alternative Songs with their 2013 single "Out Of My League