‘There Goes A Tenner’ is a song written by Kate Bush. It was originally released on her fourth album The Dreaming. On 2 November 1982 it was also released as a single. The song’s lyrics are about a bungled bank robbery as told by a fearful and paranoid perpetrator. Towards the end of the song, the lyrics and tone take on a dream-like state, which is reflected in the video.

In the lyrics, a few actors are namechecked: “Both my partners / Act like actors: / You are Bogart / He is George Raft / That leaves Cagney and me / (“What about Edward G.?”)“.

Formats

‘There Goes A Tenner’ was released as a 7″ single in the UK and Ireland only, featuring Ne T’enfuis Pas on the B-side. It was originally intended to be Bush’s first 12″ single, but its disappointing sales performance caused plans for the 12″ to be cancelled.

Music video

The music video was directed by Paul Henry and depicted Kate Bush as part of a gang of thieves robbing a bank.

Critical reception

Reviews of the single weren’t all favourable.

Blackheath beauty goes all cooey cockney-gasp in a bouncy tale of the downfall of Thatcherism and the rise of mass working class solidarity… actually it’s more trivial than that.

Jim Reid, Record Mirror, 6 November 1982

A practically formless song with odd vocal affections, and no chorus to speak of. (…) Most disappointing.

Record Business, 1 November 1982

Very well planned, and executed with relish. Katy doesn’t mind acting a bit silly if it makes the end result better.

Dermot Stokes, Hot Press, 5 November 1982

Very weird… Obviously she’s trying to become less accessible. Even so this has a haunting atmosphere.

Neil TennanT, Smash Hits, 1982

Cover versions

‘There goes a tenner’ was covered by Big City OrchestreGoodknight Productions, J. Davis Trio, The Kate Bush Experience, Yuri Kono and Optiganally Yours.

Kate about ‘There Goes A Tenner’

It’s about amateur robbers who have only done small things, and this is quite a big robbery that they’ve been planning for months, and when it actually starts happening, they start freaking out. They’re really scared, and they’re so aware of the fact that something could go wrong that they just freaked out, and paranoid and want to go home. (…) It’s sort of all the films I’ve seen with robberies in, the crooks have always been incredibly in control and calm, and I always thought that if I ever did a robbery, I’d be really scared, you know, I’d be really worried. So I thought I’m sure that’s a much more human point of view.

The Dreaming interview, CBAK 4011 CD

That was written on the piano. I had an idea for the tune and just knocked out the chords for the first verse. The words and everything just came together. It was quite a struggle from there on to try to keep things together. The lyrics are quite difficult on that one, because there are a lot of words in quite a short space of time. They had to be phrased right and everything. That was very difficult. Actually the writing went hand-in-hand with the CS-80.

John Diliberto, Interview. Keyboard/Totally Wired/Songwriter (USA), 1985

Lyrics

Okay, remember
Okay, remember
That we have just allowed
Half an hour
To get in, do it, and get out

The sense of adventure
Is changing to danger
The signal has been given
I go in
The crime begins

My excitement
Turns into fright
All my words fade
What am I gonna say?
Mustn’t give the game away

We’re waiting
We’re waiting
We’re waiting

We got the job sussed
This shop’s shut for business
The lookout has parked the car,
But kept the engine running
Three beeps means trouble’s coming

I hope you remember
To treat the gelignite tenderly for me
I’m having dreams about things
Not going right
Let’s leave in plenty of time tonight

Both my partners
Act like actors:
You are Bogart
He is George Raft
That leaves Cagney and me

(“What about Edward G.?”)

We’re waiting
We’re waiting
We’re waiting

You blow the safe up
Then all I know is I wake up
Covered in rubble. One of the rabble
Needs mummy
(“What’s all this then?”)
The government will never find the money
(“What’s all this then?”)

I’ve been here all day
A star in strange ways
Apart from a photograph
They’ll get nothing from me
Not until they let me see my solicitor

Ooh, I remember
That rich, windy weather
When you would carry me
Pockets floating
In the breeze

Ooh, there goes a tenner
Hey, look! There’s a fiver
There’s a ten-shilling note
Remember them?
That’s when we used to vote for him

Credits

Drums: Stuart Elliott
Bass: Del Palmer
Synclavier: Dave Lawson
Piano, Fairlight, CS80: Kate Bush

References

  • There Goes a Tenner. Wikipedia, retrieved 16 October 2014
  • Krystyna Fitzgerald-Morris (ed.), Peter Fitzgerald-Morris (ed.) & Dave Cross (ed.), Homeground: The Kate Bush Magazine Anthology One, 2014. ISBN 978-1861714794