Wuthering Heights (song)

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"Wuthering Heights"
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights.png
Single by Kate Bush
from the album The Kick Inside
B-side"Kite"
Written5 March 1977
Released20 January 1978
StudioAIR, London
Genre
Length4:30
LabelEMI
Songwriter(s)Kate Bush
Producer(s)Andrew Powell
Kate Bush singles chronology
"Wuthering Heights"
(1978)
"Moving"
(1978)
Music video
"Wuthering Heights" on YouTube
Audio sample
"Wuthering Heights" (1977)

"Wuthering Heights" is a song by British singer-songwriter Kate Bush, released as her debut single on 20 January 1978. Inspired by the 1847 Emily Brontë novel of the same name, it appears on her 1978 debut album The Kick Inside. It stayed at number one on the UK Singles Chart for four weeks, and remains Bush's most successful single. The song received widespread critical acclaim and continues to be highly regarded; in 2016, Pitchfork named it the fifth-greatest song of the 1970s.[1]

A remixed version, featuring rerecorded vocals, was included on the 1986 greatest hits album The Whole Story. This version also appeared as the B-side to her 1986 hit "Experiment IV".

Writing[edit]

Bush wrote the song aged 18, within a few hours late at night on 5 March 1977.[2] She was inspired after seeing the 1967 BBC adaptation of the 1847 novel Wuthering Heights.[3] She then read the book, and also discovered that she shared her birthday with author Emily Brontë.

"Wuthering Heights" is sung from the perspective of the Wuthering Heights character Catherine Earnshaw, pleading at Heathcliff's window to be allowed in. It quotes Catherine's dialogue, including the lyrics "I'm so cold", "let me in", and "bad dreams in the night". Cathy is in fact a ghost, which the listener may only realise upon reading the novel. Critic Simon Reynolds described it as "Gothic romance distilled into four-and-a-half minutes of gaseous rhapsody".[4]

Bush recorded her vocal in a single take.[5] The guitar solo is played by Ian Bairnson, who said that he initially disliked the tone for many years due to "purely guitarist reasons".[6] Engineer Jon Kelly said he regretted not placing the solo louder in the mix.[7] The production team, with Bush, began mixing at midnight and stayed until "five or six in the morning".[5]

Bush's record company, EMI, originally chose another track, "James and the Cold Gun", as the lead single, but Bush was determined to use "Wuthering Heights".[8] The single was initially scheduled for 4 November 1977. However, Bush was unhappy with the 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 20 January 1978.[9][10]

"Wuthering Heights" entered the charts in the week ending 11 February 1978 at No. 42.[11][12] The following week it rose to No. 27, and Bush made her first appearance on Top of the Pops. The song was finally added to BBC Radio 1's playlist the following week and became one of the most played records on radio.[13] In 1986, the first pressings of her first compilation album erroneously stated the release date for this single as 4 November 1977.[14]

Music video and cover artwork[edit]

Two music videos with similar choreography were created to accompany "Wuthering Heights". Bush created the choreography and dance moves to suggest her character is a ghost (as in this scene in the novel), without explicitly stating as much.[15] In the first version, made for the UK and European release, Bush is shown performing the song in a dark room filled with white mist while wearing a white dress.[16] This particular version has presented one of the most iconic images relationed to Kate Bush, as well as being considered a milestone of the artform of music videos before the MTV era, with Pitchfork putting it on number three on the list of greatest music videos from the 70s.[17]

In the alternative version, made for the American release, the singer is shown dancing in a grassy area located in Salisbury Plain (inspired by the novel's moors) with a stand of Scots pine trees while wearing a red dress.[18] The red dress has been referenced numerous times in popular culture[19] and is the more popular dress imitated by her fans on Halloween or "The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever".[20][21]

The single cover artwork mirrored that used for the album cover which featured a photograph of Bush, "clinging to a large painted dragon kite, gliding across a vast, all-seeing eye", taken by Jay Myrdal.[9]

Chart 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.[22]

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,[23] and quickly rose to number one three weeks later dethroning ABBA's "Take a Chance on Me" from the top spot.[24] Bush became the first female artist to have an entirely self-penned number one hit in the UK.[25] 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' respective merits, Bush came out on top, while Blondie stalled at number two.[26][27] "Wuthering Heights" remained at number one for a 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".[28] 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.[29][30]

Success was not limited to the United Kingdom, as "Wuthering Heights" also hit number one in Ireland.[31] It reached the top ten in Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, as well as the top twenty in Austria and West Germany.[32] "Wuthering Heights" also proved to be successful in New Zealand, where it spent five weeks at number one and achieved platinum status,[33] and in Australia, where it stayed at the top of the charts for three consecutive weeks and achieved gold status.[34][33] It proved to be one of the biggest hits of 1978 in Denmark.[35]

Following the live performance of the song by Laura Bunting on The Voice in Australia, "Wuthering Heights" re-entered the country's top forty in 2012, 34 years after its original release in 1978.[36]

Legacy[edit]

Pat Benatar recorded a cover version of "Wuthering Heights" for her 1980 album Crimes of Passion.[37]

Brazilian power metal Angra recorded a cover version of "Wuthering Heights" for their 1993 album Angels Cry. A live version of the song with Tarja Turunen on vocals appeared in the live DVD Angels Cry 20th Anniversary.

A remixed version, featuring rerecorded vocals, was included on the 1986 greatest hits album The Whole Story.[5] This version also appeared as the B-side to her 1986 hit "Experiment IV".[38]

In 2018, as part of the Bradford Literature Festival, it was announced that Bush had been invited to write an epitaph to Emily Brontë, which would be inscribed on one of four stones erected near the Brontë's home in Yorkshire.[39] Commenting on the unveiling of her poem, entitled Emily, Bush said "to be asked to write a piece for Emily’s stone is an honour and, in a way, a chance to say thank you to her".[40]

A flashmob event known as The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever was officially created in 2016 and is held annually. Fans gather in locations around the world to recreate the "red dress" video.[15][41][42][43] Upon seeing a video clip of the event, Bush said that she found it "very touching and sweet".[44]

The song has been interpreted, very humorously, by comedians Steve Coogan and Noel Fielding, on two occasions, as part of the BBC fundraising telethon Comic Relief.[15] Coogan sang the song in the 1999 show as part of a medley of other Bush material in character as Alan Partridge.[15] Fielding performed to the song in the 2011 series of Let's Dance for Comic Relief, placing in the final of the competition.[45][46]

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[33] Gold 50,000^
Brazil 150,000[64]
Italy 300,000[65]
New Zealand (RMNZ)[66] Platinum 20,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[67] Gold 500,000^
Summaries
Worldwide 1,000,000[68]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s". Pitchfork.com. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Wuthering Heights". Katebushencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Cloudbusting / Music / Wuthering Heights". Gaffa.org. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  4. ^ Reynolds, Simon (21 August 2014). "Kate Bush, the queen of art-pop who defied her critics". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "20 Things You Didn't Know About Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights' – NME". NME. 26 August 2014. Retrieved 20 November 2018.
  6. ^ Jovanovic, Rob (2005). Kate Bush The Biography. Portrait. p. 63. ISBN 0 7499 5049 8.
  7. ^ Buskin, Richard. "CLASSIC TRACKS: 'Wuthering Heights'". Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  8. ^ Buskin, Richard. "Scaling the Heights". Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  9. ^ a b "The Kick Inside is 40 years old today! The story behind the iconic "kite" cover artwork | Kate Bush News". 17 February 2018.
  10. ^ "Kate Bush biography". BBC.co.uk. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  11. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". Retrieved 1 February 2009.
  12. ^ The Whole Story (Media notes). EMI Canada. PWAS17242.
  13. ^ "Gaffaweb – Early TV and Radio promotion for "Wuthering Heights"". Gaffa.org. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
  14. ^ The Whole Story sleeve notes
  15. ^ a b c d Rogers, Jude (12 February 2018). "Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights – from Emily Brontë to Alan Partridge". Financial Times. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  16. ^ Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights - Official Music Video - Version 1, retrieved 15 February 2020
  17. ^ "The 25 Best Music Videos of the 1970s - Page 3". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  18. ^ Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights - Official Music Video - Version 2, retrieved 15 February 2020
  19. ^ Noel Fielding does "Wuthering Heights" - Let's Dance for Comic Relief 2011 Show 2 - BBC One, retrieved 21 April 2021
  20. ^ "Kate Bush fans mark 'Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever' – in pictures". The Guardian. 14 July 2018. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Watch as hundreds of Kate Bush fans re-create her 'Wuthering Heights' video across the world". NME. 15 July 2018. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  22. ^ "Sold on song". BBC Radio 2. 1979. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  23. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 18 February 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  24. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 11 March 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  25. ^ "Pop on trial". BBC. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  26. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 18 March 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  27. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 1 April 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  28. ^ "UK singles chart". Official Charts Company. 8 April 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  29. ^ a b "1970s singles chart archive". Official Charts Company. Every Hit. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  30. ^ "UK Certification". British Phonographic Industry. 1 March 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  31. ^ a b "Irish charts". Irish Recorded Music Association. 19 March 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  32. ^ "International charts". Ultratop.be. 1978. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  33. ^ a b c d e f Billboard magazine. July 1978.
  34. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  35. ^ "Billboard Magazine, July, 1979". Billboard.com. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 14 July 1979. p. 100.
  36. ^ "News wrap". Auspop.com.au. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  37. ^ "Crimes of Passion - Pat Benatar | Songs, Reviews, Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 24 April 2021.
  38. ^ "Experiment IV". 45cat.com. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  39. ^ "Kate Bush pens Emily Bronte tribute for Yorkshire moors memorial". BBC News. 26 April 2018.
  40. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (8 July 2018). "Out on the wiley, windy moors, Kate Bush sings new praises to Emily Brontë". The Observer.
  41. ^ "New heights as Kate Bush fans 'come home'". 15 July 2018. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  42. ^ "'Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever' flashmob comes to Canberra". The Canberra Times. 15 July 2017. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  43. ^ Burns, Sarah. "Kate Bush fans enjoy The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever". The Irish Times. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  44. ^ "'In conversation with Kate Bush". Macleans. 28 November 2016. Retrieved 18 January 2021.
  45. ^ Bowie-Sell, Daisy (14 March 2011). "Top 5 Kate Bush spoofs". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  46. ^ "Noel Fielding makes Let's Dance for Comic Relief final as Kate Bush". Metro. 26 February 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2019.
  47. ^ "Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  48. ^ "Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  49. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 14, 1978" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  50. ^ "Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  51. ^ "Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". Top 40 Singles.
  52. ^ "Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". VG-lista.
  53. ^ "Hits of the World" (PDF). Billboard. 10 June 1978. p. 68. Retrieved 9 November 2021.
  54. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  55. ^ "Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". Singles Top 100.
  56. ^ "Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". Swiss Singles Chart.
  57. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  58. ^ West German singles chart. 1978. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  59. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. p. 430. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  60. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1978" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  61. ^ "Jaaroverzicht 1978" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  62. ^ "End of Year Charts 1978". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  63. ^ "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts 1978" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  64. ^ "Tempo a contratempo". Jornal do Brasil: 36. 28 July 1979. Retrieved 17 January 2021. ... Inglesa Kate Bush conseguiu um disco de ouro no Brasil, por 150 mil compactos vendidos
  65. ^ La Belle Epoque (PDF). Billboard World of Music. 16 June 1979. p. 63. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  66. ^ Scapolo, Dean (2007). The Complete New Zealand Music Charts: 1966 – 2006. Wellington: Maurienne House. p. 49. ISBN 978-1877443-00-8.
  67. ^ "British single certifications – Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  68. ^ Murrells, Joseph. Million selling records from the 1900s to the 1980s : an illustrated directory. Arco Pub. p. 453. ISBN 0668064595. Sales of the single reached 500,000 in six weeks, and the final global tally was a million

External links[edit]