Lyrics in music often serve as a canvas for artists to express their deepest thoughts, emotions, and desires. One such song that has captured the hearts and minds of many is “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” by Kate Bush. The lyrics, particularly the line “If only I could make a deal with God,” have left listeners pondering the meaning and significance behind these words. In this article, we delve into the enigmatic lyrics of the song, exploring their themes, interpretations, and the enduring impact of this iconic piece of music.
The Art of Kate Bush
Before we dissect the lyrics, it is crucial to appreciate the artist herself. Kate Bush, a British singer-songwriter, is known for her eccentric, avant-garde style. She possesses a unique ability to craft songs that are both ethereal and deeply thought-provoking. “Running Up That Hill” is no exception, and its lyrics have remained a subject of fascination since the song’s release in 1985.
The Opening Lines
The opening lines of the song set the stage for the introspective journey that the lyrics will take us on:
“It doesn’t hurt me Yeah, yeah, you wanna feel how it feels? Yeah, yeah, you wanna know, know that it doesn’t hurt me? Yeah, yeah, you wanna hear about the deal I’m making?”
These lines convey a sense of detachment, of someone reflecting upon an experience that doesn’t necessarily cause pain but holds a significant emotional weight. The offer to “make a deal” immediately raises questions about the nature of the deal and its implications.
The Elusive “Deal with God”
The centerpiece of the song’s lyrics is the line that has intrigued listeners for decades: “If only I could make a deal with God.” This phrase is repeated throughout the song and serves as its chorus. The question that naturally arises is, what exactly does the singer wish to achieve through this deal with God?
The Desire for Change: One interpretation is that the singer wishes to change something in their life, to alter the course of events. The desire to make a deal with God might stem from a longing to rewrite the past or reshape the future.
Trading Places: The idea of a deal with God implies a willingness to trade something precious for a different outcome. It could signify a desire to take on another person’s burden or life, an act of profound empathy and compassion.
A Metaphor for Sacrifice: The concept of a deal with God has deep religious undertones. It might symbolize an act of selflessness, a willingness to make a sacrifice for the greater good, or to right a perceived wrong.
The Unattainable: “If only I could” implies an almost unattainable wish. The singer recognizes the impossibility of the task, which adds an air of melancholy to the lyrics.
Personal Transformation: Making a deal with God may also represent a desire for personal transformation, seeking a deeper connection with the divine or a higher purpose in life.
Interpretations and Speculations
The beauty of “Running Up That Hill” lies in its ambiguity. Kate Bush leaves room for various interpretations, and the song can resonate differently with each listener. Here are a few speculative interpretations of the lyrics:
Gender Roles and Empathy: Some believe that the song touches on the idea of gender roles and the desire to understand the opposite sex better. The singer wishes to “swap places” with a lover to experience life from their perspective, fostering empathy and connection.
Unfulfilled Desires: The song may reflect a sense of unfulfilled desires and the longing to achieve what seems impossible. The deal with God might represent the ultimate wish that can never come to fruition.
Love and Sacrifice: The lyrics could be a metaphor for the sacrifices we make in the name of love. “It doesn’t hurt me” might imply a willingness to endure pain for the sake of a loved one.
Transcendence and Spirituality: Kate Bush’s work often explores spiritual themes. The desire to make a deal with God could symbolize a yearning for a transcendent experience, a connection with the divine, or spiritual awakening.
The Legacy of the Song
“Running Up That Hill” has left an indelible mark on music history and popular culture. It has been covered and remixed by various artists and featured in numerous films, TV shows, and commercials. The enduring power of this song lies not only in its haunting melody but also in its deeply resonant lyrics.
“Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” by Kate Bush is a masterclass in lyrical ambiguity, inviting listeners to explore the multifaceted themes and emotions encapsulated in its words. The desire to make a deal with God remains open to interpretation, allowing each listener to find their unique meaning in the song. This track is a testament to the enduring power of music to evoke emotion, spark introspection, and connect people across time and space through the shared experience of profound lyrics.