22. Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’ (1978)

“Out on the wiley, windy moors
We’d roll and fall in green
You had a temper, like my jealousy
Too hot, too greedy
How could you leave me?
When I needed to possess you?
I hated you, I loved you too”

Written by Kate Bush

Produced by Andrew Powell

Taken from the album The Kick Inside

Also released on The Whole Story and This Woman’s Work

UK #1, AUS #1

In two weeks I’ll be twenty, and I have never written, released, and gone to number one around the world with a song as good as ‘Wuthering Heights’. Well, with any song, really. Compared to Kate Bush at the same age, I’m afraid my life is a failure. While I drown my sorrows with an extra-strength Milo, let’s all think for a minute about how amazing ‘Wuthering Heights’ is, and how such a young artist created something so intricate, so full of history, so beautiful, and in turn became the first female artist to hit the UK number one with a self-written song.

I think it’s fair to say that Kate actually inhabited the ghost of Emily Bronte while writing ‘Wuthering Heights’, making it the definitive modern adaptation of that boring, boring novel. I was to study the book in some “Ye Olde Literature” course back when I attempted university, and I’m afraid it didn’t go well. I couldn’t get past the third page, but I could certainly listen to the soothing tones of Kate’s ghoulish wailing on the song based around the story. On ‘Wuthering Heights’, her voice swoops and flails around a mind-bending melody – just how on earth did she come up with that? I’ve never heard anything like it.

I am of the somewhat controversial opinion that Kate’s 1986 vocal, recorded for her first and only hits album The Whole Story, is the better reading of the song. We get some scary hollering over the end there, like a proper ghost who has come home and is co-o-o-old, and that wonderful extended and oh-so-seventies guitar solo sounds even more ethereal and emotional. There’s a strange phenomenon with covers of ‘Wuthering Heights’ – I like them, especially by Pat Benatar and the Puppini Sisters – but all they ever make me want to do is listen to the original on repeat for about an hour. None of the imitations, not of this song, not of Kate herself, can ever come close.

Music video:

2 Responses to “22. Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’ (1978)”

  1. Richaod Says:

    yes, THANK YOU for speaking the truth – the original is great, but the 1986 version is SO much more passionate than practically anything else on earth. And I like the ’80s snare reverb, too.

  2. David Says:

    My first ten years on this earth were spent only knowing ‘The Whole Story’ so the ’86 version is practically ingrained in me – but it does feel a lot fuller, more dramatic and powerful. And I think the key thing is the vocals – and from the perspective of the song, surely this Cathy is the mad, delirious one of later life, not the naive innocent she starts off as. So the deeper, smoother vocals put more impact into the song than the high-pitch of the original, especially in the “let me have it! Let me gra-ah-ab your soul away!” part.

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