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Common People
Song

Common People

Pulp
Album:
Different Class

Song Meaning and Background of Common People by Pulp


In one puff of smoke, Brit-pop great Jarvis Cocker exudes more soul and bravado than the majority of artists do throughout their whole careers.


His band Pulp had been floating around the U.K. indie scene for years until "Common People" gave them a huge boost in the 1990s.


In one of his songs, Jarvis Cocker sings about a wealthy art student who says, "I want to sleep with common people like you." He responded, "I'll see what I can do." It is both a satirical critique of class tourism and a resolute account of living a life of exclusion.


"Common People" was a massive U.K. success in 1995, and it only continues to grow in popularity.


When Pulp singer-songwriter Jarvis Cocker was a student at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, he met a Greek art student who gave him the inspiration for the song's lyrics. While taking a hiatus from Pulp, Cocker enrolled in a cinema studies course at the college in September 1988. In NME in 2013, he discussed the inspiration behind the song:


' I'd met the girl from the song many years before, when I was at St Martin's College. I'd met her on a sculpture course, but at St Martin's you had a thing called Crossover Fortnight, where you had to do another discipline for a couple of weeks. I was studying film, and she might've been doing painting, but we both decided to do sculpture for two weeks. I don't know her name. It would've been around 1988, so it was already ancient history when I wrote about her. '


It reached No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart, becoming a defining track of the Britpop movement as well as Pulp's signature song.


Lyrics of Common People by Pulp


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 rum and Coca-Cola."

She said, "Fine"

And then in thirty-seconds time she said

 

"I wanna live like common people

I wanna do whatever common people do

Wanna sleep with common people

I wanna sleep with common people like you."

Well, what else could I do?

I said, "I'll... I'll see what I can do."

 

I took her to a supermarket

I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere

So it started there

I said, "Pretend you got no money."

And she just laughed and said, "Oh, you're so funny."

I said, "Yeah

Well, I can't see anyone else smiling in here

Are you sure?

 

You wanna live like common people

You wanna see whatever common people see

Wanna sleep with common people

You wanna sleep with common people like me?

But she didn't understand

And she just smiled and held my hand

 

Oh, rent a flat above a shop

And cut your hair and get a job

And smoke some fags and play some pool

Pretend you never went to school

But still you'll never get it right

'Cause when you're laid in bed at night

Watching roaches climb the wall

If you called your dad he could stop it all

Yeah

 

You'll never live like common people

You'll never do what ever common people do

Never fail like common people

You'll never watch your life slide out of view

And then dance, and drink, and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

Oh!

 

Sing along with the common people

Sing along and it might just get you through

Laugh along with the common people

Laugh along, even though they're laughing at you

And the stupid things that you do

Because you think that poor is cool

 

Like a dog lying in a corner

They will bite you and never warn you

Look out, they'll tear your insides out

'Cause everybody hates a tourist

Especially one who, who thinks it's all such a laugh

Yeah, and the chip stain's and grease will come out in the bath

 

You will never understand

How it feels to live your life

With no meaning or control

And with nowhere left to go

You are amazed that they exist

And they burn so bright whilst you can only wonder why

 

Rent a flat above a shop

Cut your hair and get a job

And smoke some fags and play some pool

Pretend you never went to school

But still you'll never get it right

'Cause when you're laid in bed at night

Watching roaches climb the wall

If you called your dad he could stop it all, yeah

 

Never live like common people

Never do what common people do

Never fail like common people

Never watch your life slide out of view

And then dance and drink, and screw

Because there's nothing else to do

 

Wanna live with common people like you

Wanna live with common people like you

Wanna live with common people like you

Wanna live with common people like you

Wanna live with common people like you

Wanna live with common people like you

Wanna live with common people like you

 

A la la la la la

Ooooh, la la la la

Ooooh, la la la la

Ooooh, la la-la-la-la la, oh yeah

Release Date

1995

Songwriter/s

Jarvis Cocker, Russell Senior, Steve Mackey, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle

Producer/s

Chris Thomas

Label/s

Island

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