Wuthering Heights (song)
|Single by Kate Bush|
|from the album The Kick Inside|
|Released||20 January 1978|
|Recorded||Summer 1977, AIR Studios, London|
|Kate Bush singles chronology|
"Wuthering Heights" is a song by Kate Bush released as her debut single in January 1978. It became a No.1 hit in the UK singles chart and remains her biggest-selling single. The song appears on her 1978 debut album, The Kick Inside. The B-side of the single was another song by Bush named "Kite" - hence the kite imagery on the record sleeve. "Wuthering Heights" came 32nd in Q magazine's Top 100 Singles of All Time, as voted by readers. It is also #13 on Rate Your Music's Top Singles of All Time.
The guitar solo is played by Ian Bairnson, best known for his work with Alan Parsons. It is often mistakenly said that David Gilmour played the solo, possibly due to his professional associations with Kate Bush. It is placed rather unobtrusively in the mix, and later engineer Jon Kelly would regret not making the solo a little louder in the mix. The song was significantly re-mixed and given a new lead vocal in 1986 for Bush's greatest-hits album The Whole Story. This version also appeared as the B-side to her 1986 hit "Experiment IV".
Written by Bush when she was 18, the song is based on the novel of the same name. Kate Bush was inspired to write the song by the last ten minutes of the 1970 film version of Wuthering Heights. She then read the book and discovered that she shared her birthday (30 July) with Emily Brontë. Bush reportedly wrote the song, for her album The Kick Inside, within the space of just a few hours late at night.
Lyrically, "Wuthering Heights" uses several quotations from Catherine Earnshaw, most notably in the chorus - "Let me in! I'm so cold!" - as well as in the verses, with Catherine's confession to her servant of "bad dreams in the night." It is sung from Catherine's point of view, as she pleads at Heathcliff's window to be allowed in. This romantic scene takes a sinister turn if one has read Chapter 3 of the original book, as Catherine is in fact a ghost, calling lovingly to Heathcliff from beyond the grave. Catherine's "icy" ghost grabs the hand of the Narrator, Mr Lockwood, through the bedroom window, asking him to let her in, so she can be forgiven by her lover Heathcliff, and freed from her own personal purgatory.
Record company, EMI had originally chosen another track, "James and the Cold Gun" as the lead single, but Bush was determined that "Wuthering Heights" would be the first release from the album. She won out eventually in a surprising show of determination for a young musician against a major record company, and this would not be the only time she took a stand against them to control her career.
Two music videos were created to accompany "Wuthering Heights." In one version, Bush can be seen performing the song in a dark room filled with white mist while wearing a white dress (which was the UK release); in the other, the singer dances in an outdoor environment while wearing a red dress (which was done for the American release).
The release date for the single was initially scheduled to be 4 November 1977. However, Bush was unhappy with the picture being used for the single's cover and insisted it be replaced. Some copies of the single had already been sent out to radio stations, but EMI relented and put back the single's launch until the New Year. This proved to be a wise choice ultimately, as the earlier release would have had to compete with Wings' latest release, "Mull of Kintyre", which became the biggest-selling single in UK history up to this point in December 1977.
"Wuthering Heights" was finally released on 20 January 1978, was immediately playlisted by Capital Radio and entered their chart at no. 39 on 27 January. It crept into the national Top 50 in week ending 11 February at No.42. The following week it rose to No.27 and Bush made her first appearance on Top of the Pops ("It was like watching myself die", recalls Bush), The song was finally added to Radio One's playlist the following week and became one of the most played records on radio. In 1986, her first compilation album erroneously stated the release date for this single as 4 November 1977.
After being delayed for several months, "Wuthering Heights" was officially released in early 1978 and entered the top forty in the official singles chart in the United Kingdom at number twenty-seven on 18 February, and quickly rose to number one three weeks later dethroning ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me" from the top stop. Bush became the first female artist to have a self-penned number one hit. The single release unwittingly pitted Bush against another female vocalist also charting with her first hit: Debbie Harry with her band Blondie and their single "Denis." Amid much public discussion about the two singers' merits, Bush came out on top, while Blondie stalled at number two. "Wuthering Heights" remained at number one for an entire month until it was replaced at the top by Brian and Michael's celebration of the then-recently deceased artist L. S. Lowry, "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs." Bush's début single finished the year as the tenth highest-selling and was certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry, denoting sales of over half a million.
Success was not limited to the United Kingdom, "Wuthering Heights" also hit number one in neighbouring Ireland and Italy. It reached the top ten in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as the top twenty in Austria and Germany. "Wuthering Heights" proved to be successful in New Zealand, where it spent five weeks at number one, and Australia, where it stayed at the top of the charts for three consecutive weeks. Following the live performance of the song by Laura Bunting on The Voice, "Wuthering Heights" re-entered the top forty twenty five years after its original release in 1978.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013)|
"Wuthering Heights" has been recorded by a number of other artists, including Italian singer Elisa Toffoli, Brazilian power metal band Angra, American rocker Pat Benatar, New Zealand soprano Hayley Westenra, Josh Pyke, Robyn Loau, China Drum, Albert Niland, White Flag, The Decemberists, Jer Ber Jones, Susan Egan, Australian band Mr Floppy, Italian singer Cristina Donà, Brian Campeau, Dutch rock singer Birgit Schuurman, Jim Guthrie, The Puppini Sisters in 2006, and Wolfmother on Australian radio station Triple J in October, 2009.
It is also performed a cappella by Steve Coogan in two different British TV series: first as the title character in the I'm Alan Partridge; second as a fictionalised version of himself in The Trip (alongside a fictionalised version of Rob Brydon). In September 2011, Angra and Finnish symphonic metal singer Tarja Turunen performed this song live at Rock in Rio Festival, in Brazil. Australian singer James Reyne did an impromptu version as part of Triple M Network's Andrew Denton's Musical Challenge Volume One, where every artist had to perform a song in style radically different from their own.
The Icelandic singer Margrét Eir recorded an Icelandic version called "Heiðin há". Irish singer-songwriter Albert Niland did a cover of the song in 2004 which was praised by critics. The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have also made a recording of this song. In 2010, Finnish rock band Indica also made a cover from it, which can be found back on their download only single Precious Dark. The Norwegian electronic band Röyksopp have covered this song on their latest tour with Anneli Drecker supplying vocals.
New Zealand singer Laura Bunting performed the song on the Australian version of The Voice, blind audition in 2012 and a studio version of her performance, accompanying herself on piano was released on iTunes.
Use in other media
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Libby Croker, a character in the British series Shameless, is obsessed with the song. She plays it in her mobile library; she also sings to the lyrics in one of the episodes of the seventh series, while dreaming of her own Heathcliff.
In the British series I'm Alan Partridge, Alan Partridge (played by Steve Coogan) is seen singing it as he walks into a travel tavern and, much to his dismay, is joined very briefly by the hotel's manager.
Comedian Noel Fielding danced to the song during Series 3 of the UK entertainment show Let's Dance For Comic Relief, winning a place in the show's finale. His routine featured some of the iconic choreography of the original music video, and he also donned a similar costume. In the finale, he performed the same routine again. After Fielding had danced, fellow Mighty Boosh writer Julian Barratt strode on to the stage dressed as Heathcliff and carried him off the stage.
'Hollywood' cigarette TV Ad in Brazil during late 70's featured this song as background to radical sports sequences videos.
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"Take a Chance on Me" by ABBA
|UK number one single
11 March 1978 – 7 April 1978
"Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" by Brian and Michael