iPod Shuffle - Common People
Common People - "Pulp" - Play this track here.
Whatever happened to Pulp?
Pulp were an indy band formed in Sheffield way back in 1978. They split in 2002, they were Jarvis Cocker (vox & guitar), the lovely Candida Doyle (keyboards), Mark Webber (guitar), Steve Mackey (bass), Nick Banks (drums) and Richard Hawley (guitar, backing vox).
Fame was slow, finally arriving with the 'Different Class' album in 1995, which reached the number one spot in the UK Albums Chart. Different Class spawned four top 10 singles, including "Common People" and "Sorted for E's & Wizz", both of which reached number two in the UK Singles Chart.
Pulp's musical style during this period consisted of disco influenced pop-rock coupled with "kitchen sink drama"-style lyrics. Jarvis Cocker and the band became major figures in the Britpop movement, and were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 1994 for His 'n' Hers; they won the prize in 1996 for Different Class. They headlined the Pyramid Stage of the Glastonbury Festival. In 1996 I saw them at the V festival with Elastica, Cast & Gary Numan.
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".
The inspiration for the song came from a Greek fellow student, Ambrosia Sakkadas, Pulp singer/songwriter Jarvis Cocker knew at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Taking this inspiration, the narrator explains that his female acquaintance can "never be like common people", because even if she gets a flat where "roaches climb the wall" ultimately, "if [she] called [her] dad he could stop it all", in contrast to the true common people who can only "watch [their] lives slide out of view". In his lyric Cocker embellished the situation for dramatic effect - in real life the woman in question said she "wanted to move to Hackney and live like 'the common people'", but in the song her character also declares: "I want to sleep with common people like you.".
The chorus melody apparently has similarities to the ELP track 'Fanfare for the Common Man'. To totally mash your head up, click here to hear the William Shatner cover version.
Its often said that in the UK most news stories are fundamentally about class, while in the states they are generally about race. I am certain there is an element of truth in this.
From a sociological point of view the class system in Britain changed substantially during the 'Thatcher Era'. Home ownership (on mortgage) was extended throughout the middle classes and below. With the loss of the majority of traditional working class industrial jobs from the market, a new 'underclass', below working class emerged. The 'underclass', defined as unemployed relying on state benefits, is the new bottom of the British class system.
In Britain people considered of lower social standing can earn high incomes, but an individual's social class is still largely assessed by their parent's mannerisms, education etc. People watching late evening in any Uk city can tell a lot about people.
Perhaps if people could afford it, they would have been collected by their butler or manservent, or boarded a taxi, rather than wait for the 86 First Buses Charlotte Square service to Birkendale.
Its clean and cheap and theres one every half an hour. Unfortunately, I had given my domestics that evening off, so I joined them myself after snapping off this five shot 180 degree joiner.
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