Hearing the 'Deal with God': The Double-Tonic Complex in Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill"

David Forrest, Texas Tech University

The lyrics to Kate Bush's Running Up that Hill aim to "make a deal with God" to switch places between two lovers so they can reach true understanding. The subject of this paper is how the musical elements in the song contribute to the paranormal storytelling. This paper reads the song's conflicting tonal centers of C minor and E♭ major as representing the two lovers. Throughout the song, these two relative keys become intertwined in a construct that Robert Bailey calls a double-tonic complex. While Drew Nobile and Chad Scarborough have identified a variety of double-tonic complexes in popular music, Running Up That Hill employs an unusually tight double-tonic structure such that the few deviations stand out as "other." From this perspective, the close readings in this paper bring new interpretations to the music and lyrics of one of Bush's most commercially successful songs.