Wuthering Heights

Album: The Kick Inside (1978)
Charted: 1
  • songfacts ®
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  • Lyrics
  • This is based on Emily Bronte's classic book of the same name. The song pretty much tells the same story as the book, only at a much higher pitch.

    In the book, two young people, Catherine and Heathcliff, are brought together and become lovers. Along the way, they struggle with issues of class and family. Wuthering Heights was Bronte's only novel, although she did publish some poems.
  • This was the first song Bush recorded for a label. It was released as a single, and while the music press dismissed the song as a novelty, it hit #1 in Britain. It stayed there for four weeks and launched her career at age 19.
  • Kate Bush and Emily Bronte share the same birthday, July 30 (Bronte in 1918, Bush in 1958).
  • Kate started playing piano at age 11 and wrote her first song at 13. By the time she recorded the album, she had about 50 songs to choose from, but this wasn't one of them. She came up with it shortly before recording the album. She claims she wrote the song in one night under a full moon.
  • This was a huge hit everywhere except the US. This is the way it remained for Bush, who has never been able to break the US market.
  • Bush's label, EMI, wanted to release "James and the Cold Gun" as her first single, believing that radio stations wouldn't play this because it sounded too odd. When Kate found out, she insisted that "Wuthering Heights" be released first, but as a 19-year-old who had never released a song, she didn't have much say in the matter. Her label boss decided to let her have her way, figuring the song would flop and he would prove to Bush that he knew how to do his job better than she did. He was proven horribly wrong, and Bush was allowed to select her next single. Her choice was "The Man With The Child In His Eyes."
  • When this rose to #1, Kate Bush became the first female solo artist to top the UK charts with a self-composed song.
  • At the time of writing this, Kate had never read the book in its entirety but she knew the story. She borrowed the novel from her brother and leafed through the pages, picking out some key lines. "The name Cathy helped, and made it easier to project my own feelings of want for someone so much that you hate them," she explained in a 1979 fan club newsletter. "I could understand how Cathy felt." Kate claims she felt such a connection with the text that she even found lines in the book after she'd already written them in the lyrics.
  • The guitar solo is by Ian Bairnson, formerly of Pilot. In the mid-'70s, they had a #5 hit in the US with "Magic" and a chart topper in the UK with "January."
  • Engineer Jon Kelly recalled Kate Bush's recording of the song in the book Classic Tracks: The Real Stories Behind 68 Seminal Recordings by Richard Buskin. "In the case of 'Wuthering Heights' she was imitating this witch, the mad lady from the Yorkshire Moors, and she was very theatrical about it," he recalled. "She was such a mesmerising performer – she threw her heart and soul into everything she did – that it was difficult to ever fault her or say, 'You could do better.'"

    "You couldn't keep Kate away from the sessions even if you had wild dogs and bazookas," Kelly added. "She was just drinking it all up, learning everything that went on. The first moment she walked into the control room, I could tell that's where she wanted to be; in control of her own records. She was astute, and she was also phenomenally easy to work with."
  • Bush re-recorded her vocal late one night, doing two or three takes from which producer Andrew Powell chose the best. "There was no compiling," Kelly confirmed. "It was a complete performance. We started the mix at around midnight and Kate was there the whole time, encouraging us. You couldn't deny her anything. So we got on with the job and finished at about five or six that morning."
  • Pat Benatar covered this on her 1980 album Crimes of Passion.
  • Kate noticed a number of coincidences during the songwriting process, as if she were meant to write the tune. She explained: "When Emily Bronte wrote the book she was in the terminal stages of consumption, and I had a bad cold when I wrote the song. Also, when I was in Canada I found out that Lindsay Kemp, my dance teacher, was in town, only ten minutes away by car, so I went to see him. When I came back I had this urge to switch on the TV - it was about one in the morning - because I knew the film of Wuthering Heights would be on. I tuned in to a thirties gangster film, then flicked through the channels, playing channel roulette, until I found it. I came in at the moment Cathy was dying, so that's all I saw of the film. It was an amazing coincidence."
  • Two music videos were made. In the first version, directed by Nick Abson, Kate is shown dancing in the English countryside (Salisbury Plain, specifically), wearing a red dress. In the second version, directed by Keef, she wears a white dress and performs in a dark room amid a white mist. Kate spoke of the first clip in a 1990 VH1 interview: "Well, the video we made for 'Wuthering Heights' was probably amongst the first ever made, certainly here in this country in terms of a video, and I was very influenced at that time still by Lindsay Kemp. So it was very much the dance influence that I was expressing. So it was really working out choreography that just looked interesting, that would kind of create a persona of Cathy."
  • The American punk band White Flag recorded a version for the 1992 compilation album Freedom Of Choice: Yesterday's New Wave Hits As Performed By Today's Stars.
  • This was used in the TV series Doctors ("Author, Author" – 2014) and I'm Alan Partridge ("Basic Alan" – 1997). It was also featured in the movies The Trip (2010) and Soft Fruit (1999).
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Comments: 30

  • Melinda from AustraliaIf you want to totally ‘get’ this song. Read the novel Wuthering Heights. You can’t totally understand it I think, unless you do.
    As a Victorian novel. It has powerful imagery, that really explores generational dysfunction. With sex and Yorkshire dialects thrown in.
    Also, it has Victorian superstition and English rigid class structure. Racism. And a bit of the supernatural thrown in to keep tragic romantics engaged.
    If you only listen to the song. And don’t read Wuthering Heights or see any of the movies based on the novel. You miss out on the complex depth.
    Wuthering Heights, the novel should come with an accompanying support text for women.
    Cause it’s my view that’s its a dangerous book for teenage girls. Why?
    Well let’s looks at the novel. It has shocking family violence, particularly towards women, and a charismatic sociopath, Heathcliff, who digs up dead people and who indulges in all kinds of cruelty. Including killing a girlfriend’s dog. Sound familiar?

    Obsessive co-dependant love is the central theme, typical in domestic violence relationships.
    Cathy, who is fully aware she has Heathcliff spellbound. But she taunts him mercilessly. And doesn’t actually want him. But doesn’t want anyone else to have him. Yeah, we’ve all known those chicks.
    I read it at 18. 4 years after the song came out. I immediately became convinced that Heathcliff’s possessive personality was dead sexy. Normal. And vowed to find a ‘Heathcliff’. I did.
    Cause as at 18, I figured that..... that’s how men behave when they are deeply ‘in love’ with you. Well yeah they do. When they are nuts. Or psychopaths.
    Wuthering Heights was written centuries before the belief in ‘healthy relationships’ was formed.
    Kate Bush has been as eccentric as this song/novel. Love her.
    But, seriously, Heathcliff today would be locked up. For good.
  • Oto from SlovakiaTrue romantism.
  • James from None Of Your Business, AustraliaThe "fact" about Kate being given a Steinway is nonsense. It doesn't appear in any printed source until post 2000. She bought a 7000 pound Steinway with the money she made from The Kick Inside.
  • Jim from Long Beach, CaI heard Pat Benatar's version first. Then a school friend, who's dad worked at Capitol Records in Hollywood, got us the original version. I was floored and have been a fan since..
  • Ellie from Wolverhampton, United KingdomI absolutely love this song, when im feeling down i play it and it always cheers me up!! My son is called Hindley and my daughter is called Catherine. I did make my husband change his name to Heathcliff, but sadly i think that was the last straw for him and he left me. But i shall carry on looking for my Heathcliff and this wonderful book shall help me.
  • Jenny from Wolverhampton, United Kingdomi read this book, all the time, i say at home all day reading and pretending to be catherine as i love her so much i feel like i am her, and she is me, my husband (heathcliff) also loves this define book, we have a son called hareton and anotehr called edgar however we are trying to make him have t.b
  • Kim from Ny, NyIn the 1992 Movie Wuthering Heights, Juliett Binoche NOT Cate Blanchard starred with Ralph Fiennes. She was the perfect Catherine.
  • Lauren from Melbourne, AustraliaJosh Pyke covered this song as part of a tribute albulm, where men covered some of the most influential songs sung by women called 'No mans Woman'
  • Victor from Mexico City, MexicoIan Bairson; who plays fading solo is also guitarist (a fine one by the way) from Alan Parsons Project
  • Francis from Windsor, CanadaRomantic at heart, seen both movies. The song is timeless as is the story. It should remind us of the delicate balance between love and hate. Francis, Windsor Ont
  • Percy from Sydney, AustraliaI love this song. I fisrt heard it when it came out and I hated it. Over the years it grew on me. I heard the Angra version and its wonderful for what it is.. I have an album by a Sydney performer called Franky Valentyn who does an absolute replica. The voice is uncanny...for a GUY.
  • Theo from Jacksonville, Fl"Discovered" by David Gilmour
  • Jason from Ibiza, SpainKate actually wrote this song based on the film (the black & white version). She is quoted as saying this and that she later would read the book "to get the research right". She was signed to EMI for over a year before releasing any materail, it allowed her to finish school; she did mock A levels and left school with 10 O levels. During this time she had recorded over 100 songs, some of which can be found on www.dongrays.com/kate-bush/mp3 and are often referred to as The Phoenix Sessions.
  • Emilia from Gdańsk, Polandgreat novel, great movie (the one with ralph fiennes and juliette binoche) - and a BEAUTIFUL song! one of the best kate's songs... how could you leave me when i needed to posses you, i hated you, i loved u too......
  • Christine from Sunderland, EnglandI've only read part of the book but i loved the movie. This is my favorite kate Bush song.
  • Erobert from Auckland, New ZealandI always thought that Dave Gilmore played the solo..certainly sounds like him.
  • Robbie from Bristol, England, United StatesWhats makes this song extra special is the musical climate in Britain at the time. It was the height of punk. Kate defied eveyone. This 19 year girl writes and sings her own song, performs on Top of the Pops (the main weekly music programme at the time) with a ballad about characters from a famous novel. If you were around at the time and heard and saw this performance it was quite incredible.
  • Greer from Somerset, NjMy mother had this on vinyl and on 8-track....this is the first song that ever made me cry....I was only about 9 and I hadn't read the book yet but I just got that it was about longing....in the right moment it can still give me chills, although "James and the Cold Gun" is probably my favorite KB song...
  • Tom from Freiburg, GermanyThere's some female voices that drive tears to my eyes whenever I hear them. This is one of them.
  • Nathalie from Laguna, Cai love the movie and this book
  • Lee from Ottawa, CanadaThere are at least three different videos for Wuthering Heights
  • Marama from Sydney, AustraliaWhere is Kate Bush now how can I contact her? Please help
  • Geoff from Greeley, CoKate recorded new vocals for this wonderful song for her 1986 "greatest hits" compilation; "The Whole Story". A much more mature vocal, it still has the impact of the original.

    And yes, EMI DID want "James and the Cold Gun" as the first single, Damien. Kate Bush disagreed and actually cried in the office of the man responsible for the decision, and EMI relented and release "Wuthering Heights". This is documented in several magazines over the years, including New Musical Express, Sound on Sound, and Mojo.
  • Peterpan from San Jose, CaThe Brazilian Prog-Metal band Angra did a fantastic true-to-the-original cover of Wuthering Heights in their album "Angels Cry". What makes this exceptional is that their singer Andre Matos, a man, manages to come eerily close to the operatic vocal histrionics of Kate Bush.
  • Damien from London, United StatesEMI wanted to release THE MAN WITH THE CHILD IN HIS EYES first, JAMES & COLD GUN was never up for a single release.
  • Mel from Hokitika, New ZealandAlso covered by Haley Westernra, a rising opera star from New Zealand who's only 17
  • Geri from Nova Scotia, CanadaBrilliant how she took the classic story and spun it in this manner. When she sings," Heathcliff, it's me your Cathy I've come home.....let me in your window....I'm so cold...." breaks your heart.
  • Ok...next... from Somewhere?, EuropeAtaraxia covered this song. The cover is called "La Nuova Margherita"
  • Lp from Tampa, FlCorrection - the 1992 version of Wuthering Heights starred Ralph Fiennes and Juliette Binoche (both starred in The English Patient for which Juliette won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.)
  • Tita from Bandung, IndonesiaRalph Fienes and Cate Blanchard starred Wuthering Heights in 1992, (both also starred The English Patient)
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