Kate Bush In Her Own Words
There Goes A Tennor
"Everybody synchronize watches. Remember there's only half an hour
to do the job. We've been rehearsing for weeks, so nothing should go
wrong. Let's run through it one more time:
"I go in and distract the guard,
Frank's out the back in the getaway car,
The sign on the door turns from open to shut,
We keep them all covered, you blow the safe up,
We grab the cash, make a hasty retreat,
And tear across London using the backstreets.
Remember, be careful, give nothing away,
The arm of the Law is as long as they say.'' (1982,
And what's going to be the next single that you're working on?
Well, we've done the video for the next one, which is ``There
Goes a Tenner."
"There Goes a Tenner."
What's that about? Is it about robbery?
What, sort of pickpockets in the east end, et cetera?
Yeah. 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.
Really? Is this based on any kind of
No. 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.
Yeah. You see I thought it might be based on a
film. It was on telly over christmas. It was about a guy who
was blackmailed into doing a robbery and of course he really was
scared, the further he got involved in it and he had to carry it out.
But he was having the sleepless nights and stuff. [Kate
makes noises expressing interest throughout this - it's clear that she
has not seen the film.]
How did he get blackmailed? Because he'd murdered someone?
He'd been in prison a long time, and therefore when the robbery took
place the mafia bosses who were organising it knew they had a stool
pigeon, and so they got him to do it.
Great! Yeah, a similar sort of thing, isn't it? I'm sure a lot of
these young kids, when they actually get into a situation where it is
not just a little job, they must be really scared.
Yeah. What made you think about it? I mean, have you run into these
east end types before?
No, no. I think it was much more the thing of watching a lot of
films, things like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,
you know. There are lots of films where robberies take place and yet
they glorify them, they always make the robbery something very heroic
and fun, risky and dangerous, but for me it's something incredibly
scary, something that has such a potential of going wrong that it's
not worth the risk, and I don't think it's something that should be
glorified at all. I think it's something that should be made very
real, so that people realize it's not worth the effort - it's not
something that's fun, it's something that's just not worth the effort.
You'll end up in gaol for thirty years!
And is that the video that you were shooting in the train carriage on
the way up to manchester, or practicing for it?
That was the one we were practicing for, yes, but only because we
didn't have any time, because that show came up at the last minute and
we were planning to rehearse all that night, so instead of doing it in
the studio, we did it in the back of the train.
[Laughs] I couldn't see anything!
And how many of there were you in that guard's van?
There were just the three of us. They cleared it out for us - it was
really great of them, actually. Each station we stopped at there'd be
various guards who would pull the window down and go 'alright, then?',
because they were just checking us out. It was great - they cleared
out all the postings, chickens and pigs, and all the other things.
You get some odd things, don't you?
So it was a completely empty carriage, it was beautiful. The only
thing was we could hardly hear the tape recorder, because the noise
was so bad, so we were more of less having to, sort of, keep checking,
and it was very hard to stay stationary at a hundred and fifty miles an hour!
And that's how that kind of
dance somehow can get incorporated into a
film about robbery?
That should be interesting.
One of the bits in the song is all about waiting, and how the first
time they're just waiting for something to go wrong, and the second
time they're just waiting for the guy to blow the safe up, because
when he blows it up, there is so much that could go wrong. It's a
dance routine that's
based on waiting.
It's just all these ideas of people waiting. And the rest of the
dancers are all
acting out what the story says, really. It's not so much a
dance at all.
(1982, Bootleg CD)
How did ``there goes a tenner'' come together?
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.
It's easy to hear how the piano was used for the verses, but what
about the choruses? Those sections are very uncharacteristic of what
you'd expect to be written on a piano?
That was really the difficult structure of the song. I could hear
what I wanted, but until we put the Synclavier in there - which was
played by Dave Lawson - I couldn't get the full picture. I really
liked what we did in that. (1985, Keyboard)
Apart from the use of sound to conjure up very simple images
you've also used list of names, like minnie, moony, vicious, buddy
holly, sandy denny on ``
blow away'' and bogart, raft and cagney on ``there
goes a tenner'' Are they people you particularly admire or do
you just like the strong images they create?
They are people I like. For me, Cagney is one of the greatest actors
that has ever been. I just couldn't believe his
acting in White Heat.
He's always played the boy who grew up in a hard time and in a way he
was only ever bad because of the things that had influenced him. He
comes across as a very human person who had the potential to do
something great but was always misled."
In that song the idea is that everyone's amateur robbers...
Like the old ealing comedies?
Yeah, that's right. So it's like maybe they get a bit cocky... I
dunno, I've never done a robbery, but I think that in a situation like
that you'd almost try to be like the person you admire so perhaps
they'd be like Cagney and George Raft. They idea was nothing like
deep - it was just handy! The real challenge of that song was to make
it a story but also keep it like a Thirties tune.
(1982, Melody Maker)
Well it's all about some people that are doing a bank robbery and
they're quite amateur and they've been looking forward to it for
weeks. But when it actually starts happening they realise that
they're really nervous and very scared in doing it. And it's all
about the reality of the situation like that, really.
Yeah you've got a warped mind 'aven't you. [Kate
laughs] thinking up bank raids in our spare time.
[Makes funny voice] I'm not warped!
But if you got together for a bank raid perhaps you could afford the
next tour. Kate seriously thank you very much cause I know you're a
local girl. You used to
dance around here, didn't you?
Yeah, just around the corner. Yeah, I know this place very well.
(1982, BBC Dreaming interview)
"There goes a tenner'' from the album
the dreaming. And I think that will be a hit actually.
It's got a lot of that umpa.
Do you really?
Yes, I think thats a...
I don't.. I don't know anymore. (1982, Pebble
Mill At One)
A song of yours for which the symbolism in the lyrics really
fascinates me is ``there goes a tenner.'' you've said
that it is just a simple song about bank robbery, but the more I look
at it, the more it seems that nearly every line is really sort of an
allusion to your
recording career at the time you were recording the
dreaming. You wouldn't deny that this was intended, would you?
Yes, I would deny it.
Yes. It's very much a song about bank robbery. I wouldn't say it was
a simple song about bank robbery, but it's about the fear that people
feel rather than the glorification of bank robbers.
I dunno. It seems like...well, to me it seems every line sort of could
recording career. I won't go and explain it, but like one
example is ``there goes a tenner.'' ``tenner'' could be a ten-dollar
[Sic] bill - it could also be a level of singing:
You know, like soprano, alto, tenor. And sort of every line is like
that. But you don't agree?
Well, no I don't because that's not...That was...nothing that was in
my head when I was writing it. But then I think the interpretations
that people have of your songs afterwards are nothing to do with me
anyway. I think it's up to them to get what they can out of the song.
Okay. That seems reasonable. Maybe it was all subconscious. It seems
so perfect to me. I dunno. (1985,
Cloudbusting / Music / There Goes A Tennor