There Goes a Tenner – A Heist of Emotions in Song

Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Symphony of Suspense: Navigating the Heist
  5. Caught in the Act: The Disintegration of Composure
  6. The All-Star Cast of Culprits: Hollywood’s Finest or Fumbling Felons?
  7. The Aftermath: The Unraveling of a Scheme
  8. A Glimpse into the Past: Nostalgic Currency and Shifting Values


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

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

Oh, 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

Full Lyrics

In the lexicon of music, few artists can claim the title of enigmatic genius quite like Kate Bush. Her 1982 track, ‘There Goes a Tenner,’ from the album ‘The Dreaming,’ remains an extraordinary illustration of her narrative prowess and her ability to infuse a song with theatrical complexity. On the surface, it narrates a bank heist gone awry, yet the layers run much deeper.

Through a thrilling blend of spoken word and melodic unfoldings, Bush plunges listeners into a cinematic experience shrouded in anxiety and nostalgia. The multilayered lyrics serve as a vessel for more than just a narrative—a metaphorical goldmine of psychological drama and the contemplation of risks and rewards. Let’s unravel the tangled web of meaning that Bush weaves with her unique brand of songcraft.

A Symphony of Suspense: Navigating the Heist

The tension is palpable from the first lines of ‘There Goes a Tenner,’ as Bush sets a timer on the illicit escapade. The song’s urgent pace mirrors the heist’s tight planning, while the phrase ‘We have just allowed half an hour’ stresses the precision needed in such high-stakes endeavors.

As the heist progresses, a sense of dread overtakes the thrill. Bush’s clever use of vivid imagery conjures a world where every second counts and each misstep could lead to disaster. The lyrics ‘The sense of adventure / Is changing to danger’ encapsulate the transformation of emotions that one might undergo when the thrill of a plan in motion confronts the potential of dire consequences.

Caught in the Act: The Disintegration of Composure

In the throes of the heist, the robbers’ confidence begins to falter. Bush’s portrayal of the mind in turmoil, highlighted by the stuttering line ‘What am I gonna say?’, oscillates between strategic silence and the fear of being discovered. This internal dialogue underscores a common theme across Bush’s discography—the chasm between thought and expression.

The recurring ‘We’re waiting’ accentuates the heist’s painstaking nature, as the characters are stuck in a limbo of suspense and preparation. It’s an unsettling meditation on the passage of time and reflects the anxiety of anticipation when faced with uncertain outcomes.

The All-Star Cast of Culprits: Hollywood’s Finest or Fumbling Felons?

The references to silver screen legends like Bogart, Raft, and Cagney inject a sense of cinematic grandeur into the operation. These allusions serve as masks the characters don, seeking to emulate the cool confidence of the movies’ criminal masterminds, which sharply contrasts with their crumbling self-control.

However, there’s a crack in their performance. The question ‘What about Edward G.?’ hints at a struggle for identity within the collective. It underscores the song’s theme of role-playing and the inevitable discrepancies between idealized figures and actual capabilities—a reminder that life rarely imitates art with precision.

The Aftermath: The Unraveling of a Scheme

Illustrative of life’s unpredictability, Bush captures the stark aftermath of the botched plan. The lyric ‘Then all I know is I wake up / Covered in rubble’ depicts literal destruction, evoking the visceral feelings of disorientation and failure post-catastrophe.

The detachment experienced by the character, now referring to themselves as ‘one of the rabble,’ culminates in the satire of bureaucratic apathy—’The government will never find the money.’ This line acts as a critique of the ineptitude often displayed by large institutions, mirroring the characters’ own miscalculations.

A Glimpse into the Past: Nostalgic Currency and Shifting Values

In the final verses, ‘There Goes a Tenner’ veers into a nostalgic reverie. The denominations of pre-decimal currency stir reminiscences of a different era. The mention of ‘the ten-shilling note’ and ‘when we used to vote for him’ touches on the impermanence of both money and political landscapes.

By invoking the tangible feeling of losing money to the wind, Bush taps into a greater existential angst—a loss of not just fiscal value but also the erosion of societal values over time, leaving listeners to ponder on the flux of cultural norms and the passing of eras.

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