Common People: A lyrical discussion/dissection

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K - that was what i thought you meant, and was gonna reply to dorian, but i felt you were capable of stating your case.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:49 (4 years ago) Permalink

i don't know much about this song but this thread has sucked out any of my desire to listen to it cuz then i'll have to post here :/

funky brewster (San Te), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:52 (4 years ago) Permalink

I just listened to it - it's not even particularly enjoyable. Not sure how it ever attracted that much attention.

olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:53 (4 years ago) Permalink

waht

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:58 (4 years ago) Permalink

Half-heartedly trolling on a Friday afternoon, Dan. Don't mind me.

olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:00 (4 years ago) Permalink

it's really shapeless, formally, but it still works, there's a kind of constant acceleration feeling that really fits the lyrics. and there's a lot of lyrics! you'd have to go to rap to find a hit song with as many words crammed into it.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:00 (4 years ago) Permalink

how did hypocritical middle-class alts deal with "if you called your dad he could stop it all" with the fucking drums going bananas. just pretended they didn't have that safety net? i think kate is talking about having to deal with class resentment in general, and this song being abt class resentment.

― zvookster, Friday, September 3, 2010 6:08 PM (46 minutes ago) Bookmark

most of them didn't have (didn't think they had) that safety net. getting a haircut, getting a job, renting a flat -- these are not exactly unknown to middle-class folk. it's only the very rich, the top 5–10% of the population, who are really so rich that their dad could -- what? pay their rent? so it was quite easy for middle-class alts to participate in the hatred of rich greek girls that the song enacts.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:00 (4 years ago) Permalink

wait what if the girl is actually greek.

i assume the first line means, just back from 'holiday' before starting school.

lol xp IS SHE GREEK THIS IS CRUCIAL

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:02 (4 years ago) Permalink

Thing that's really annoying is, I would really like the droney propulsion if the song if it weren't for Jarvis & the lyrics. :(

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:02 (4 years ago) Permalink

I am not going to judge K for having queasy associations with the culture around this song given my own tortured relationship with a lot of metal bands that I would enjoy a lot more sonically if hearing them didn't evoke images of a lot of the racists I grew up with (or in some cases the bands themselves weren't actually racists, ha).

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:03 (4 years ago) Permalink

um, "were actually racists"

gah work sucks

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:05 (4 years ago) Permalink

lol xp IS SHE GREEK THIS IS CRUCIAL

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 7:02 PM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark

EGGSZACKLY

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:06 (4 years ago) Permalink

Dan, did you have to cut your hair?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:06 (4 years ago) Permalink

as far as the "is she greek?" question - i interpreted it as she was literally from Greece, like she was from this rich family - like the Onassises or something - from another country who had the luxury of attending college as a foreign student, which in America is a sign of being wealthy.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:10 (4 years ago) Permalink

i interpreted it as she was literally from Greece, like she was from this rich family - like the Onassises or something - from another country who had the luxury of attending college as a foreign student, which in America is a sign of being wealthy.

That's how I interpreted it as well.

(¬_¬) (Nicole), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:12 (4 years ago) Permalink

ya im sure she is actually greek.

which is part of why it's a tad bit fucked up imo, i mean sure class solidarity across poxy national borders and everything, but jarvis's class resentment is so specifically british, and never political-political, that, well, it seems kind of off.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:14 (4 years ago) Permalink

like where i went to college, there were a number of European students that provided some seriously rewarding dumpster diving at the end of the academic year, because they'd just throw away barely worn designer clothes because they just couldn't be bothered to ship all that stuff back for the summer, or pay for storage.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:15 (4 years ago) Permalink

Dan, did you have to cut your hair?

... Yes? Although it only happened like once every 6 months and was a big production that chewed up an entire Saturday with a trip to St Paul up until I got into high school and started saying "fuck it, let Supercuts in town give me a buzz cut". Not picking up on the relevance of the question.

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:16 (4 years ago) Permalink

pavement ref iirc

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:16 (4 years ago) Permalink

oh lol, I was never going to get that

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:18 (4 years ago) Permalink

no, you posted that "work sucks" - the line in the song - "cut your hair and get a job" - the earlier post about how middle class people are no strangers to having to cut their hair and get jobs ...

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:18 (4 years ago) Permalink

Britpop and class is v complicated. I recently read an old Manics interview in which Nicky Wire says he wrote Design for Life ("we don't talk about love/we only want to get drunk") in part as a response to Blur's Girls & Boys, which he thought was loathsomely condescending. In fact, you could read Common People as a sly attack on Damon Albarn in his mockney, dog-racing phase. But then he would claim he was misunderstood… It's the worthwhile side of Britpop anyway - a fistful of top 5 hits about class identity.

Cocker said "it seemed to be in the air, that kind of patronising social voyeurism... I felt that of Parklife, for example, or Natural Born Killers - there is that noble savage notion. But if you walk round a council estate, there's plenty of savagery and not much nobility going on."[3]

fit and working again, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:19 (4 years ago) Permalink

that "cut your hair" song is the only Pavement song i'm familiar with tbh

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:20 (4 years ago) Permalink

oh haha

I was jumping from one meeting to another and distracted and made an egregious context-changing typo because of it, that's all.

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:20 (4 years ago) Permalink

(The thing about her being Greek - I think this song is very possibly about a girl! From Greece! Isn't Jarvis kind of known for doing that, as a lyricist? Certainly 'Inside Susan' is explicitly about a specific person.) (Haha I only know that from an Official Pulp book I got from the library aged 14)

Gravel Puzzleworth, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:26 (4 years ago) Permalink

sure - it probably is - but i agree with history mayne about that detail feeling a bit off

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:27 (4 years ago) Permalink

Cocker said "it seemed to be in the air, that kind of patronising social voyeurism... I felt that of Parklife, for example, or Natural Born Killers - there is that noble savage notion. But if you walk round a council estate, there's plenty of savagery and not much nobility going on."[3]

the song 'parklife' is baffling to me, i kind of have no idea what it's about, but the album isn't really about council estates and whatnot, is it? a lot of it is about suburban middle-class philistines; 'girls and boys' is about people who can afford to go on package holidays. jarvis's outlook is either more true to the north or more rooted in the 1970s. but he's wrong about blur, on the whole. (i do think blur did some really awful character songs, but none of them were 'noble-savage'. albarn, on some songs anyway, was shooting for a london's fields vibe: no nobility there.)

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:29 (4 years ago) Permalink

london's fields vibe:

what is this?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:31 (4 years ago) Permalink

very pre-millennial novel by martin amis from 1989

i used to f/w it, and amis writes like a motherfucker fuiud, though er, owyousay, feminists have 'raised objections' to it...

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:33 (4 years ago) Permalink

fit and working again, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:33 (4 years ago) Permalink

actual title 'london fields' which is now a very expensive place to live but wasn't then

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:34 (4 years ago) Permalink

yeah i mean blur dressed up in old pop styles (ie mod revival) and made it clear that that was what they were doing -- i don't think that's blur going for a noble savage thing

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:34 (4 years ago) Permalink

if you post on ilx are you automatically at least middle class

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:35 (4 years ago) Permalink

probably a minimum of lower middle

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:36 (4 years ago) Permalink

wondered abt that after a few months tbh

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:36 (4 years ago) Permalink

from what i understand about that era and blur's aesthetic at the time (which was when i had my britpop fixation) - it doesn't seem at all about noble savagery - i mean, doesn't commodity fetishism and aspirations to a higher class (or at least its signifiers) play a major role in that sensibility?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:37 (4 years ago) Permalink

hm: You could be right ... just following up the Jarvis quote.

fit and working again, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:37 (4 years ago) Permalink

FWIW & thinking about it - I initially agreed that the Greek detail doesn't help the song but I think I disagree now!

I think it achieves some things that 'she came from Cheshire' wouldn't:

1) It makes her *even more blameless* - there is no sense, as there would be with an english girl, that this hopelessness is her family's fault in some small way
2) If you are European and at art school in another country and that country is England, you are read as a specific social class in this country and that class is upper middle class bohemianism - this runs true basically regardless of any other factors afaict.

Gravel Puzzleworth, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:40 (4 years ago) Permalink

blur and pulp are pretty similar in terms of backgrounds, i'd have thought, but blur are southern, pulp northern, and i can see why jarv would think what he thought.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:42 (4 years ago) Permalink

i just forgot the line 'you wanna sleep with common people like me' -- BUT it's more complicated!

she brought up him being common -- she said she wanted to sleep with someone common, like him

so he then improvises to show what it's like to be common, but he doesn't entirely know himself ('i'll see what i can do')

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:44 (4 years ago) Permalink

the reason he's all bent out of shape is that she took him for common, when actually he's a beautiful snowflake of an individual, but she's so rich anyone with less money must be common; and he's northern to boot

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:45 (4 years ago) Permalink

ha yeah, that's an extra little wrinkle

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:46 (4 years ago) Permalink

though it isn't entirely clear whether he's also a student at the college - or just some guy she met at a club, or maybe he works there in a menial capacity?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:46 (4 years ago) Permalink

(trying to work out what Blur were actually hoping to convey seems massively difficult in this period because its SO INCOHERENT - seriously watch the video to Girls & Boys! Like, obviously it is vulgar people on holiday but seriously try and work out what Damon's actions are meant to communicate - it basically turns it into a video about 'D.Albarn is v. v. good-looking')

Gravel Puzzleworth, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:46 (4 years ago) Permalink

I took her to a supermarket,
I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere

see?

NAILED IT

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:47 (4 years ago) Permalink

it's kinda a dual perspective on the act of slumming?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:49 (4 years ago) Permalink

I don't think I'd ever heard of this song until today, but better late than never.

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:50 (4 years ago) Permalink

i think it's hard for me to not see this song in the context of the album.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:51 (4 years ago) Permalink

Oh god, let's not even "go there" on Blur who are, I think, an even more misunderstood and misinterpreted band than Pulp.

But I might be saying that because I actually *liked* Blur back in the day (granted, this was because they appealed to me, as an ex pat, looking at Blur and thinking "a ha, middle class art school Southerners, this is what *I* would have been had we stayed, aw....") - I think my reading of Blur these days is that they were more problematic than I was aware of at the time.

And yeah, the Greek detail on Common People *is* just weird. Because at the beginning of the song, it's very clear he's talking about a very specific incident with a very specific girl - but as his hysteria rises in the song he gets further away from the specific and more into this just kind of weird and disproportionate RAGE which has nothing to do with this poor girl who has said something a bit silly, but honestly, he's not talking about this unfortunate Greek lass any more, he's just venting his entire life's worth of hatred at someone who really didn't deserve all that bile, but just happened to be there. Which makes me like Cocker even less.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:56 (4 years ago) Permalink

she brought up him being common -- she said she wanted to sleep with someone common, like him

so he then improvises to show what it's like to be common, but he doesn't entirely know himself ('i'll see what i can do')

― i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, September 3, 2010

!

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:58 (4 years ago) Permalink


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