Wuthering Heights (song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
"Wuthering Heights"
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights.png
Single by Kate Bush
from the album The Kick Inside
B-side "Kite"
Released 5 January 1978 (1978-01-05)
Format 7" vinyl
Recorded Summer 1977, AIR Studios, London
Length 4:28
Label EMI
Writer(s) Kate Bush
Producer(s) Andrew Powell
Kate Bush singles chronology
"Wuthering Heights"
Music sample

"Wuthering Heights" is a song by Kate Bush, released as her debut single in January 1978. It became a #1 hit on the UK Singles Chart, and stayed at the position for four weeks. The song is Bush's biggest hit to date, and 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 No. 16 on Rate Your Music's "Top Singles of All Time"[1] and No. 5 on Pitchfork's "Top 200 Tracks of the 1970s".[2]

The guitar solo is played by Ian Bairnson, best known for his work with Alan Parsons. 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.[3] 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".[4]


Written by Bush when she was 18, the song is based on the novel of the same name. Bush was inspired to write the song by the last ten minutes of a 1967 BBC mini-series based on Wuthering Heights.[5] 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.[citation needed]

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 melancholic 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. Critic Simon Reynolds described it as "Gothic romance".[6]


Record company EMI had originally chosen another track, "James and the Cold Gun", as the lead single, but Bush was determined that "Wuthering Heights" should be the first release from the album.[7] She won out eventually in an unusual 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.[citation needed]

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).[citation needed]

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.[8] 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.[9]

"Wuthering Heights" was finally released on 20 January 1978, being immediately playlisted by Capital Radio and entering their chart at #39 on 27 January 1978. It crept into the national Top 50 in the week ending 11 February 1978 at #42.[10] The following week it rose to #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.[11] In 1986, her first compilation album erroneously stated the release date for this single as 4 November 1977.[12]

Commercial performance[edit]

"It was suddenly non-stop working. I put up with sixteen months of that and then I said: look, I've just got to stop or I'm not going to be able to write any songs any more."

—Bush reflecting on "Wuthering Heights" instant success.[13]

After being delayed for two 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,[14] and quickly rose to number one three weeks later dethroning ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me" from the top spot.[15] Bush became the first female artist to have a self-penned number one hit in the UK.[16] The single release unwittingly pitted Bush against another female vocalist also charting with her first UK 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.[17][18] "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".[19] 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.[20][21]

Success was not limited to the United Kingdom, as "Wuthering Heights" also hit number one in Ireland and Italy.[22][23] It reached the top ten in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as the top twenty in Austria and West Germany.[24] "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.[25] Following the live performance of the song by Laura Bunting on The Voice, "Wuthering Heights" re-entered the top forty thirty five years after its original release in 1978.[26]

Weekly charts[edit]


  1. ^ "Top Singles of All-time". Rateyourmusic.com/. Retrieved 2014-05-01. 
  2. ^ "Top 200 Tracks of the 1970s". pitchfork.com/. Retrieved 2016-09-01. 
  3. ^ Richard Buskin. "CLASSIC TRACKS: 'Wuthering Heights'". Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  4. ^ "Experiment IV". www.45cat.com. Retrieved 1 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Cloudbusting / Music / Wuthering Heights". Gaffa.org. 30 July 1958. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  6. ^ Reynolds, Simon (21 August 2014). "Kate Bush, the queen of art-pop who defied her critics". The Guardian. Retrieved March 10, 2016. 
  7. ^ Richard Buskin. "Scaling the Heights". Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  8. ^ "Kate Bush biography". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  9. ^ ""Mull of Kintyre" sales information". Every hit.com. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  10. ^ "Chart Stats - Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights". Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  11. ^ "Gaffaweb - Early TV and Radio promotion for "Wuthering Heights"". Gaffa.org. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  12. ^ The Whole Story sleeve notes
  13. ^ "Sold on song". BBC Radio 2. 1979. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  14. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 18 February 1978. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  15. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 11 March 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "Pop on trial". BBC. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  17. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 18 March 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 1 April 1978. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  19. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 8 April 1978. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  20. ^ a b "1970s singles chart archive". Official Charts Company. Every Hit. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  21. ^ "UK Certification". British Phonographic Industry. 1 March 1978. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  22. ^ a b "Irish charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. 19 March 1978. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  23. ^ a b "Kate Bush: Wuthering Heights" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  24. ^ "International charts". Ultratop. 1978. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  25. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  26. ^ "News wrap". www.auspop.com.au. Retrieved 6 April 2016. 
  27. ^ a b c Billboard magazine. July 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  28. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  29. ^ "Ultratop.be – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  30. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 14, 1978" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  31. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  32. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". Top 40 Singles.
  33. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". VG-lista.
  34. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  35. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". Singles Top 100.
  36. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". Swiss Singles Chart.
  37. ^ "Archive Chart: 1978-03-11" UK Singles Chart.
  38. ^ West German singles chart. 1978. Retrieved 20 December 2015. 
  39. ^ "Jaaroverzicht 1978" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 2014-01-07. 
  40. ^ "British single certifications – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2014-01-07.  Enter Wuthering Heights in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select single in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
Preceded by
"Take a Chance on Me" by ABBA
UK number one single
5 March 1978 – 1 April 1978
Succeeded by
"Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" by Brian and Michael