Common People (5:52)

Cover of The Peel Sessions

From The Peel Sessions and 50 other releases

Common People is a song by Pulp. It was released as a single in , reaching number two on the UK singles chart. It also appears on the band’s 1995 album Different Class. The song is about those who were perceived by the songwriter as wanting to be “like common people” and who ascribe glamour to poverty. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as slumming or “class tourism”. A similar theme is explored in the ’s novel and film “Up The Junction”.

The inspiration for the song came from a Greek fellow student Pulp singer/songwriter Jarvis Cocker knew at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. In the lyrics, the narrator explains that his female acquaintance can “never be like common people”, because even if she gets an apartment where “roaches climb the wall” ultimately, “if called dad he could stop it all”, in contrast to the true common people who can only “watch lives slide out of view”. However, Cocker admittedly embellished the incident - in real life the woman in question said she wanted to “live like common people”, but in the song her character also declares: “I want to sleep with common people like you.” A BBC3 documentary failed to correctly locate the woman, who Cocker also admits could have been on any fine art course but “sculpture” sounded better. The lyrics were partly a response by Cocker, who usually focuses on the introspective and emotional aspects of , to more politically-minded members of the band like Russell Senior.

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