"I made it so she wanted to sleep with me, which was totally a lie..."
December 13, 2014 11:50 AM   Subscribe

She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College, that's where I caught her eye.
She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said in that case I'll have a rum and coke-cola.
She said fine, and in thirty seconds time she said,
I want to live like common people I want to do whatever common people do,
I want to sleep with common people I want to sleep with common people like you.
Well what else could I do – I said I'll see what I can do. posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (53 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bit more about this BBC doc here. (Hat-tip and thanks to the man of twists and turns.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:51 AM on December 13, 2014


Given my below posting on Star Trek, I have to add William Shatner's version.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:56 AM on December 13, 2014 [32 favorites]


This is one of those songs (and they're not all good songs, necessarily, although obviously "Common People" is a fucking masterpiece) I can very distinctly remember hearing for the first time.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:01 PM on December 13, 2014 [7 favorites]


Can I just say, as a huge fan of Pulp and this song specifically, that I think Jarvis may be full of shit about this being a real incident with a real person that actually happened to him? I know the way art works.
posted by dhartung at 12:22 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's a song I love whenever it pops up on the college radio station or on Pandora, but I couldn't name a single other song by the band. It has a little bit of a syncopated (synthesizer?) sound that hints at Flaco Jimenez dialed all the way down, keeping just enough push in there to keep the song moving nicely.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:28 PM on December 13, 2014


18 years ago.
posted by fullerine at 12:44 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


I couldn't name a single other song by the band

Aw man, that gives me the sads. His 'n' Hers and Different Class were their two big albums of this period; both are packed with good songs.

(Disco 2000 was the other big hit from Different Class, and I think quite similar in style to Common People. Although I always really liked I Spy, which has Cocker really strongly channeling his inner creep.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:45 PM on December 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


I couldn't name a single other song by the band

I love "This is Hardcore" and I love the video even more. There's some epic, scuzzy Hitchcock ripoff film from 1957 hidden amongst the clips in that video, and I want to watch it oh so very badly.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:06 PM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Disco 2000 (which is awesome)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:11 PM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


"The Fear" is a really good song about having (among other possibilities) an addiction, an anxiety disorder, impostor syndrome, or even dysthymia. "Underwear" (B-side of "Common People") is about the, or at least a, first time. I think it's one of the better examples of how Cocker, as a lyricist, is prone to using full sentences in his songs. Not that he's unique in that, but once someone pointed that out I couldn't stop seeing it. "Sorted for E's and Wizz" is their other big hit, a very contrarian-for-the-era song about rave culture in the UK (note, UK English uses "sorted" to mean "organized" or "taken care of"; E's are of course ecstasy, and wizz is speed). This may reflect the fact that by the time they became a hit band, Pulp had been making music for many years and they were perhaps older than many their fans (Cocker was born in 1963). This is Hardcore is definitely a less accessible album whose greatness is only obvious after familiarity (you can start with the others mentioned by We had a deal, Kyle).
posted by dhartung at 1:12 PM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


The album people should remember from the Brit Pop class, when they default to the BlurOasis answer.

Starting a band in 1978 and hitting the big time 17 years later. That's the way to do it
posted by C.A.S. at 1:32 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Stop with the Shatner version. Shatner was born rich, and an upper class person singing "Common People" is the equivalent of black face. Common People is about me, not some rich asshole doing it for camp value.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:49 PM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


I usually think of the Shatner version (on the rare occasions it pops into my head) as if he's singing it from the POV of the girl.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:51 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Lighten up, Francis.
posted by matthewr at 1:52 PM on December 13, 2014 [13 favorites]


My favourite Pulp album is His'n'Hers - the album just before Different Class. It's less polished and bombastic, but it is blooming brilliant. I had a whole minimalist dance worked out to the GLORY that is Babies. Oh, and Do You Remember The First Time? - I was so glad my mum didn't understand English.

I still want to marry Jarvis. Alas I have to settle for having a lifesize cardboard cut-out of him (from the Different Class era) in my kitchen.
posted by kariebookish at 2:03 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


I was a freshman at Indiana University, when I made up an excellent song about my dorm titled "Collins People". People didn't know this music in my dorm, so I'd crank my friend's Pulp CD, while dialing down the vocals and sing to it with the door open.

THIS was the reason I'd come back from class often with words like this scribbled onto my door's dry erase board:

"Hey, come sing to me! xox, Kristin (Collins-Smith Rm 303)"
"If you'd rather sing to someone who's cute...xox, Amanda (Collins-Smith 301)"

I was a dork and had NO confidence with the opposite sex. But I realized the power of Pulp. Thanks for college, Jarvis. Holy shit, I'm old.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:19 PM on December 13, 2014 [14 favorites]


Stop with the Shatner version.

It was the first version I heard so it still sounds like the right version to my ears.
posted by octothorpe at 2:54 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Common People is one of those songs that immediately takes me back to being 17 and early summer evenings waiting for the bus home from college.

I aways preferred the darker side though, Babies as mentioned, Pink Glove, Answerphone PTA and Cocaine Socialism as the standouts.
posted by Middlemarch at 3:12 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Saw them in Rotherham Arts Centre in 1991, with about 15 people there. Just for waving his arse at dickhead Michael Jackson he vies with Stephen Fry for the title of Greatest Living Englishman.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:29 PM on December 13, 2014 [6 favorites]


Both Common People and Disco 2000 still give me chills. What a fantastic record.
posted by evisceratordeath at 3:29 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I will not stop wth the Shatner version. It's one of the greatest moments in all of music, if not of the entire history of humans being funny.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 3:51 PM on December 13, 2014 [12 favorites]


Pulp and Jarvis Cocker are amazing and my youth seems a long time ago. That is all.
posted by billiebee at 4:28 PM on December 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


Cocker's post-Pulp material is worth listening to. My favorites from his 2006 release are I Will Kill Again and the hidden track Cunts Are Still Running The World.
posted by cazoo at 4:31 PM on December 13, 2014 [9 favorites]


Stop with the Shatner version? What? You haven't heard Common People until you've heard it in the original Klingon.

Here's my favorite fan-made video of the Shatner version.
posted by Flunkie at 4:34 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Wow, I hadn't listened to or thought about Sorted for E's and Wizz in ages (except that I quite often mentally touch back to the lyric I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere/Somewhere in a field in Hampshire to castigate myself for being absent-minded). That gave me shivers down the back of my spine. Also, the YouTube video of it had a Jelly Belly ad play before it loaded, which seems somewhat appropriate.
posted by ambrosen at 4:55 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mishapes was my favourite from Different Class. It seemed to sum up the post-student, terraced housed sharing, crappy job/unemployed phase I was in at the time.
posted by antiwiggle at 5:04 PM on December 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's about Jesus isn't it? He can't live as a common person because if he called his dad he could stop it all, yeah?
posted by edd at 5:09 PM on December 13, 2014 [15 favorites]


"Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?"

Didn't work.
posted by Flunkie at 5:13 PM on December 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


Temptation, as a counter-example.
posted by edd at 5:20 PM on December 13, 2014


That's David Tennant, isn't it?

i'll show myself out
posted by Naberius at 6:30 PM on December 13, 2014


DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME is on my list of perfect songs, which is why I recorded this cover of it.
posted by Sportswriters at 9:11 PM on December 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am so tired of songs about men having sex with (and then hating/degrading/taking down a notch) rich girls, the ultimate achievement/possession. :\

:\ :\ at men and especially male artists

Where does this leave the working class girls? Singing about our men leaving us and sleeping around town while we sit at home bawling? F! I want more songs about poor girls having sex with hot rich studs and then being like "wutever, u douche" and simultaneously making their male working class contemporaries feel broke and inadequate
posted by stoneandstar at 9:30 PM on December 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


Shatner didn't know the song. Ben Folds (producer of Has Been) suggested it, and it works very well with his style of delivery, not to mention dovetailing with the confessional poetry that was repurposed musically elsewhere on the album. I love the song and I think it's a great goof, plus Joe Jackson is on it singing the chorus. Also, as that fan video groks, it borrows from Kirk's horndog persona. It's a perfect pop culture parfait.
posted by dhartung at 10:27 PM on December 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I am so tired of songs about men having sex with (and then hating/degrading/taking down a notch) rich girls, the ultimate achievement/possession. :\

I didn't realize this was a genre...Maybe this song and one by Hall and Oates?
posted by ill3 at 11:15 PM on December 13, 2014


I am so tired of songs about men having sex with (and then hating/degrading/taking down a notch) rich girls, the ultimate achievement/possession.

Wha?

The song is about a woman sleeping with a man as an extension of her class tourism. The context is very British, with its reverse snobbery and patronising social voyeurism.

I don't know how you get this song as the proclamations of a triumphant seducer, I really don't.

If anything, the narrator is the passive subject of seduction by a privileged girl. Nothing is said about bringing her down any notches, only that her slumming it is offensive when compared to actual poverty.

Anyway, the studio where this was cut is just down the street from me. And, having gone out of business like most recording studios, is being turned into high end flats as I type this. I need a Pulp song about this issue.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:36 AM on December 14, 2014 [32 favorites]


Such a great record, but I'm with kariebookish - His'n'Hers is the essential Pulp album somehow.

ethnomethodologist: I still remember Common People coming on in the dance tent at a May Ball in Cambridge & watching a load of people bouncing around in black tie to it. At least half the people in there would have been from perfectly ordinary families like Jarvis' but the juxtoposition was really, really jarring nonethless.
posted by pharm at 1:37 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Darn. *juxtaposition* :)

Sportwriter: Do you the remember the first time is a fantastic song.
posted by pharm at 1:53 AM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can I just say, as a huge fan of Pulp and this song specifically, that I think Jarvis may be full of shit about this being a real incident with a real person that actually happened to him? I know the way art works.

IIRC there's artistic licence in the specifics, but the gist of it is true and there's a real person behind it. I read an interview with her, in Greek, a few years ago and she came off as interesting if not necessarily someone with whom you'd like to spend too much time.
posted by ersatz at 2:34 AM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


In the genre of songs slagging the women a dude has slept with, this feels different to me. Maybe because the English class system is more important to the song than whether the dude or the chick is the tourist. I could easily see a gender-bent cover of it, while I think the humour of the Shatner version is that he's the tourist and doesn't know it.
posted by harriet vane at 4:00 AM on December 14, 2014


Speaking of Do You Remember The First Time? covers, here is an unexpectedly amazing version by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
posted by distorte at 4:02 AM on December 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


I can think of nothing more quintessentially Metafilter than Brits trying to explain Pulp songs to an audience that won't stop bringing up William Shatner.
posted by distorte at 4:07 AM on December 14, 2014 [43 favorites]


I seem to remember seeing David Tennant wearing a Pulp t-shirt, but I cannot find an image. It would make complete sense, though as Tennant's of an age and background to be immersed in the so-called Britpop scene (so-called because I loathe the term).

Both Tennant & Cocker appeared in Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire, of course.
posted by kariebookish at 4:47 AM on December 14, 2014


distorte: Wow: It works just perfectly as a lesbian torch song doesn't it? Sophie E-B absolutely nails it.
posted by pharm at 6:21 AM on December 14, 2014 [5 favorites]


In the genre of songs slagging the women a dude has slept with, this feels different to me.

The other thing about Common People is that there is a fair degree of self-loathing to it all. The narrator is exploiting the Greek girl's naïveté as much as he is attacking it, he's a hypocrite, and we all know it: "Well what else could I do? I said, 'I'll see what I can do.'" I think it's worth noting that Jarvis's songs have been habitually critical of his own libidinous failings, before, during and after the Different Class era.

Jarvis Branson Cocker is also not unaware of the extent to which the nature of his unusual upbringing makes him a relative outsider to much of the British working class life he talks about. "Different Class" is not a celebration of its primary author's working class identity, but rather about a certain kind of marginalisation, or perhaps more accurately self-marginalisation, within the class system in general. Mis-Shapes and I Spy very explicitly expose both the thrill and the ugliness of that sort of position, but even songs like Bar Italia or Sorted... suggest a sort of wilful alienation.

If Jarvis were pretending to be authentic, the song itself would be, I think, somewhat unsavoury. But, both in itself and in context, I think it presents a more nuanced critique of ideas of identity and authenticity.
posted by howfar at 9:33 AM on December 14, 2014 [14 favorites]


"The Fear " is a really good song about having (among other possibilities) an addiction, an anxiety disorder, impostor syndrome, or even dysthymia.

Always read that one as a straight post-rave-comedown type song - the narrator of "Sorted for E's and Whizz" a few years down the track. The Fear as in the 2nd and 3rd definitions here, when the side effects of Too Much Fun is really started kicking in, "when you're no longer searching for beauty or love - just some kind of life with the edges taken off". Great song.

As for Common People, I almost can't stand to hear it anymore. I loved it so much, and played it so often, that I ruined it for myself.
posted by Pink Frost at 12:58 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stop with the Shatner version.

I suppose next you'll be saying he's not really a rocket man.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:00 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Incidentally, Shatner was not "born rich." His dad cut schmatte.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2014 [2 favorites]


I had forgotten how perfectly the "Common People" video presaged The Sims.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:13 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


My father, Joseph, had a small company making men's clothing in Montreal, where I grew up. He was lower-middle class. He struggled and worked very hard....

I went to McGill University in Montreal, so I was living at home for the first 21 years of my life and stuck pretty much to the grindstone. Money was very tight so I had to do it entirely on my own.


There were other times, according to things I've read, where he was hand-to-mouth like when he was starring in The World of Suzie Wong in NYC. At one point post-Trek, post-divorce, and typecast, he was living in his truck.

howfar, thanks for that explanation; there's obviously more to Cocker than even this fan understood.
posted by dhartung at 10:50 PM on December 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


to fans of the songs off that album, can i recommend the Peel Sessions live version? There's a CD with all their (John) Peel sessions on, cheap enough 2nd hand, the first one's rubbish, i don't like the last session as much as the album, but they did the session of the songs off that album just before they went huge, i think it was one of the causes, and they're great, can't pick which i prefer. (John Peel was a dj on BBC Radio 1 who did live sessions.) I bought the album recently (cheap as chips) and the lyrics are actually really good all the way through, now i'm old enough to appreciate lyrics, recommend
posted by maiamaia at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2014


"You'll never live like common people
You'll never do what common people do
You'll never fail like common people
You'll never watch your life slide out of view, and dance and drink and screw
Because there's nothing else to do." is entirely accurate about why you indulge in suicidal and risky behaviours when poor, think
posted by maiamaia at 2:12 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


edd: “It's about Jesus isn't it? He can't live as a common person because if he called his dad he could stop it all, yeah?”

Nah. He's not Jesus; he just has the same initials.
posted by koeselitz at 3:24 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sys Rq: "(Incidentally, Shatner was not "born rich." His dad cut schmatte.)"

Yeah, you don't have to like the Shatner version, but the idea that he doesn't know what it's like not to be rich is completely false.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:02 PM on December 17, 2014


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