The single was issued on April 14, 1980, four months before the album was released, and reached number 16 in the UK charts. It was the first single by Bush to feature a non-LP track on its B-side, “The Empty Bullring”.
“Breathing” is about a foetus, very much aware of what is going on outside the womb and frightened by nuclear fallout, which implies that the song is set either during a nuclear war scare or a post-apocalyptic birth. The lyrics also refer to the foetus absorbing nicotine from the mother’s smoking. In an interview that year Bush described the song as her “little symphony”, adding that she considered it her best work to date.
The music video features Bush in a womb portraying a foetus.
Kate Bush talks about her song “Breathing” on a chat show