It's interesting how well Pulp got on with both Oasis and Blur in the britpop era.
That's not what I heard, necessarily........
― Mark G, Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:44 (2 years ago) Permalink
Ha I was thinking that xp. Probably middle class (as in B1 in yr consumer research schema iirc). Not liminal. Or subliminal. Possibly postliminal.
― nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:46 (2 years ago) Permalink
is he saying it created superior music? i always thought the argument was that, during certain socio-economic situations, that liminal class created a wide variety of interesting or pioneering music.
― a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:58 (2 years ago) Permalink
That's more or less the same thing in this case isn't it?
― nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 21:57 (2 years ago) Permalink
doesn't necessarily make it better than everything else does it?
― a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:05 (2 years ago) Permalink
LOL at 'postliminal' - Simon's class background is complicated, but I'd be speaking out of turn if I discussed it in detail.
Having been a scholarship kid at a posh art college in the '80s, I can identify with Jarvis (and his narrator in the song). If he were American, Jarvis would probably have qualified for all the help I got. You do feel, occasionally and quite rationally, that you're just 'material' for some privileged person's four-year dérive, that it is easy to romanticize poverty when your experience of it is second-hand at best, particularly if you are so rich that your laundry is always done by a service, your food shopping is always done by your parents' housekeeper, and that no disparaging comment you could make about this situation could be too mean, or considered bullying, because a look at the bigger picture demands an examination of the power balance as it really is. I also know that the middle-class person indulging in karaoke poshness also exists, like Lex and Kate say, but I am wary of privileged people whining about class war because it's only called that when poorer people complain about the rich - otherwise, like Warren Buffet says, it's business as usual.
From my own observation, I've noticed it's much easier for an ambitious working-class man with 'sophisticated' taste who has made it to art college or Oxbridge to assimilate than it would be for a woman, who can be sidelined by petty snobbery from posh girls who have no problem with people they fancy, but make no pretense at egalitarianism when dealing with other women. I also know that I have never been chastised for under-appreciating my privilege by someone less privileged than me.
― maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:06 (2 years ago) Permalink
you went to Sarah Lawrence, suzy, is that right?
― sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:12 (2 years ago) Permalink
― a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Saturday, 4 September 2010 23:05 (5 minutes ago)
No but these liminal fucks get a sampler and a cheap syth and ~think~ they're better. Airs and graces like they own the fucking shop.
― nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:15 (2 years ago) Permalink
― Mark G, Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:17 (2 years ago) Permalink
Yes, sarahel - on a full scholarship. My mom thought it was hilarious to point out to people that me and my friend C, who grew up skint on a reservation near Hibbing because her mother married a Native American, were the poorest kids in the college (not true, BTW). I mean, I know there's a big difference between me and someone who grew up in a housing project, but my single-parent mom with no college degree was not pinching pennies because she thought it was something fun to do.
― maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:31 (2 years ago) Permalink
JC's order for "rum n coca cola" alludes to calypso tune also about tourism, imperialism, etc: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rum_and_Coca-Cola
― David Allah Coal (sexyDancer), Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:33 (2 years ago) Permalink
xp - yeah, Sarah Lawrence had a serious rich kid snob factor reputation from what i remember - i had this sense that it was kinda like the characters in that movie Metropolitan, which i found fascinating, but didn't want to live in that world
― sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:51 (2 years ago) Permalink
What really bothered me is how class was reinforced there, and how those reinforcements were communicated. My experience in high school was pretty egalitarian, in that class was not a determinant in my friendship choices in the same way that shared interests and aesthetic appreciation and of my friends in school who were rich, their parents tended towards making them get jobs to learn the value of money and against things like country clubs. We did have snotty rich kids, but in school and in the Midwest generally, grades and thrift shopping can successfully compete with that, along with the consolation that you're dealing with big fish/small pond types and the situation isn't necessarily 'forever'. But at a place like Sarah Lawrence, the names sound familiar for a reason, because you're surrounded by people with real connections to history, culture, media and celebrity - the initial feeling is OHHHHH SHIIIIIT because, of course, it must never be discussed and it's all anyone can gossip about.
Things that gave me pause were the questions that people from a more stratified background than mine don't even have to ask, such as 'why can't we invite the cleaner to our hall party?' (the answer, 'insurance', was only half the answer IMO) and a sense that it was easier for kids from the projects, or kids of colour, to connect with the trust-funders because the trust-funders could earn congratulations (self-generated or otherwise) for that friendship, whereas the working-to-lower-middles (straight white kids from public schools with regional accents) were kind of seen as unsophisticated and not worth knowing (sometimes by me, but someone with a frizz perm and Van Halen records from my own socioeconomic background - whose family probably had more money than mine - was not my kind of people before I got there).
― maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Saturday, 4 September 2010 23:36 (2 years ago) Permalink
And that is perhaps my biggest problem with the narrator of this song is, he seems to be trapped by his own resentments (even as he *has* the possibility represented by art school and tertiary education) - *way* more so than he is trapped by some clueless girl who wants to sleep with him. And yet he takes it out in this ever more shrill and hysterical fashion *on* this girl.
I've read this whole thread and just wanted to go back to this because for me this song has never really been about the girl at all, it definitely reads like the narrator-as-Jarvis projecting/laying out his own confused feelings about weatlh/privilege/identity (not so much class I don't think) - the greek girl exists in the song as a sort of jump-off point for an extended rant. I mean you never get any sense of where the encounter goes or where the girl's attitude leads - ok it *starts* in the supermarket but what then? It always struck me as odd that it starts off as a story-type song then goes off on this tangent. This could well be intentional on Jarvis' part, the first verse could be a red herring - in which case it's quite a clever way to go about it; however if he actually was hoping to merely put forward a convincing case for 'Rich people slumming it are bad' then I think the song fails.
― Gavin in Leeds, Sunday, 5 September 2010 08:35 (2 years ago) Permalink
I agree with this - the primary conflict in the song is the kind of love-hate civil class war among the two visions of the working class, into the middle of which steps the clueless rich girl who doesn't even see that there's a difference. Nothing more annoying than someone ignorant telling you what you're like, and not only getting it wrong but telling you you're the same as your bitterest enemy. One can imagine how irritating locals must find it when everyone's got a glib view on Israel or Northern Ireland or wherever.
― Ismael Klata, Sunday, 5 September 2010 08:54 (2 years ago) Permalink
Nothing more annoying than someone ignorant telling you what you're like, and not only getting it wrong but telling you you're the same as your bitterest enemy.
Ha ha, trust me, I know what this is like - it's happened quite a few times directed at me on this thread and the other one.
And yeah, it is just a weird song, the way it starts as a story and ends as a rant and I don't know that those two halves hang together particularly well.
― cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Sunday, 5 September 2010 08:58 (2 years ago) Permalink
this is probably here nor there at this point, but the british class system isn't some impenetrable mystery that the r.o.w. will never understand. it's not really that complicated.
― goole, Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:27 (2 years ago) Permalink
Never underestimate the American ability to completely fail to understand other countries' cultures.
(You could really substitute most any country for "American" there, but given the low possession of passports by the citizens there, and the high American presence on this board, it seemed the most fitting example.)
― cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:32 (2 years ago) Permalink
hey if a rich greek girl can learn and grow, someone not from the UK can figure out how status works there.
― goole, Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:39 (2 years ago) Permalink
im p sure they have poor people in greece
― i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, September 4, 2010 9:00 AM (Yesterday) Bookmark
^^ good one
― goole, Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:40 (2 years ago) Permalink
i should probably note that my experience of this song at the time was as one of the most popular songs among boys in my school (and totally lumped in with oasis, blur, all the rest). yup, public schoolboys singing along to these lyrics as if it was their anthem. sooooo wrong. and that's partly why i find this song's ~outcast anthem~ status so laughable, because IRL it didn't work like that at all - this, and britpop generally, was the dominant aesthetic at my school, what you were expected to be into, and you were considered a weirdo if you deviated from it.
― لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:46 (2 years ago) Permalink
'Rum and coca cola' is a nice touch, I hadn't heard of that before
― Ismael Klata, Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:50 (2 years ago) Permalink
can't imagine being shunned at school for what music you did or didn't like. thought that kind of thing only happened in john hughes movies.
― ledge, Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:51 (2 years ago) Permalink
And Jarvis is probably clever enough to know exactly what he was referring to. xpost
Public schoolboys singing along to Common People is just like Republicans' relationship with Born In The USA, but I can totally understand not liking something because it has stupid fans - and I can well imagine Lex's fellow students not being into Li'l Kim, etc.
― maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:55 (2 years ago) Permalink
of course i didn't get shunned, it wasn't even that horrible - just things like other dudes acting like listening to tlc/erykah badu/tori amos/suzanne vega = "terrible taste", or battles over the common room stereo. i can't imagine anyone doesn't know about how teenagers pressure each other to conform aesthetically!
― لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:57 (2 years ago) Permalink
i can't imagine anyone doesn't know about how teenagers pressure each other to conform aesthetically!
Yeah, this is, actually, to me is way more o_0 what universe do you come from than, say, not knowing who John Wayne or Pavement are. ;-)
― cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Sunday, 5 September 2010 09:59 (2 years ago) Permalink
i mean isn't that the premise on which cocker casts himself as an outsider? the weirdo who dresses differently, likes reading, likes different music, to everyone else around him? it was a bit like that, except it was his music that everyone else around me liked. (i didn't dress particularly differently to everyone else, though.)
― لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Sunday, 5 September 2010 10:00 (2 years ago) Permalink
and 'Rum and Coca Cola' was appropriated by its targets as well
― Ismael Klata, Sunday, 5 September 2010 10:00 (2 years ago) Permalink
Much touched upon upthread, but I think Cocker's own class discomfort is crucial to the song. In a retrospective for the 25th anniversary of the miners' strike a little while back, he was one of the talking heads, and he explained that he absolutely didn't support the miners at the time. After all, they were the people who out in Sheffield on a Saturday night would rain misery down on people like him, for not being proper working class lads with the appropriate interests in beer and pool and screwing. Common People is like the response of someone from an ugly town - you know it's awful, but it really pisses you off when someone from somewhere nice stats going on about how awful it was when they visited for a day.
― ithappens, Sunday, 5 September 2010 10:01 (2 years ago) Permalink
i can't imagine anyone doesn't know about how teenagers pressure each other to conform aesthetically!
sure there were different groups with different tastes, and maybe i've got some rose tinted memory specs on, but i don't really recall any kind of aesthetic pressure, no worse than you get on ilm anyway (sure you get heated discussions here but i don't really feel any *pressure*). ok there was that one time i was embarrassed to admit i liked a bros song.
― ledge, Sunday, 5 September 2010 10:06 (2 years ago) Permalink
maybe it was a different kind of school, or maybe if you actually liked the stuff that everyone else liked you wouldn't have noticed it
― لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Sunday, 5 September 2010 10:11 (2 years ago) Permalink
Good call on "rum and coca-cola"; despite being vaguely familiar with the song of that name (though I wasn't in '95) I'd never put 2+2 together, but I had sometimes wondered why the "in that case"
― vampire headphase (a passing spacecadet), Sunday, 5 September 2010 10:43 (2 years ago) Permalink
I love this thread, particuarly the Rum and Coca-Cola connection, the miners strike fact and the phrase "fractious autodidacticism". This is one of my favourite songs of the 90s and this thread makes me feel like I'd only skimmed the surface.
― Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Sunday, 5 September 2010 11:59 (2 years ago) Permalink
(there's a huge wall, I think, between the kind of school where pressure to conform aesthetically took the form of physically hitting you and where it didn't - people act like these are the same thing but they 100% aren't)
― Gravel Puzzleworth, Sunday, 5 September 2010 11:59 (2 years ago) Permalink
That's a good post, ithappens, and informative!
― Gravel Puzzleworth, Sunday, 5 September 2010 12:01 (2 years ago) Permalink
I was at high school a few years earlier than Lex, '87-94, and it was definitely not the usual thing to be into indie or proto-Britpop at that time - most of the kids were into Guns'n'Roses/Aerosmith/hair metal or U2/INXS/Queen. I didn't get much shit for liking indie though, that was mostly reserved for hip hop or house.
― a fucking stove just fell on my foot. (Colonel Poo), Sunday, 5 September 2010 12:02 (2 years ago) Permalink
high school for me was '93-'00 - it was an oddity in that it was a specialist music school, and once in sixth form the dynamic of the year changed completely, due to lots of musicians (previously a minority group in the year) arriving on scholarships, and the...less academically inclined local farmers' kids leaving. sixth form was really great as far as aesthetic tolerance went tbh. prior to that it was britpop all the way with a smattering of, like, nirvana and pearl jam. don't remember hip-hop getting much play but then i hadn't got into it yet at that point either. i was intro trip-hop, female singer-songwriters and r&b, none of which was considered acceptable to go on the house common room - i remember sneaking into the girls' houses a few times, which was mostly forbidden, just so i could listen to, like, en vogue and madonna with friends. amusingly, that was before i came out.
my most triumphant common room stereo battle was when i put erykah badu's first album on one day, not long after it had come out and BLOWN MY MIND - a group of some of the nastier elements in my house turned up not long after that and the usual hostility ensued. (beating people up wasn't really something that happened in my school, at least not to me, but physical scuffles did, including THROWING MY CD ACROSS THE ROOM. hateful cunts!) anyway there also happened to be some sixth-formers there who i didn't know (rare, sixth-formers didn't use that common room much), one of whom happened to be a musician specialising in jazz piano, ie someone who could actually appreciate good music, and he marched over to the little cunts who were bothering me and literally picked the ringleader up by his collar and told him not to ever fuck with a) me b) erykah badu ever again. then he put the cd back in, turned the volume up ten times as loud as it was, and we jammed to this -
― لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Sunday, 5 September 2010 12:44 (2 years ago) Permalink
Starting to understand Jarvis' complicated defending-despite-hating relationship with the working class in regards to my countrymen, what with all the America comments on this thread.
― a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Sunday, 5 September 2010 14:08 (2 years ago) Permalink
I was in high school '83-'87, and something so innocuous as liking Prince or Madonna -- which I did, and at the time when they were like two of the two top four or five artists in the music industry -- was sufficient to get you called "faggot" and threatened with ass-beatings constantly.
― Shock and Awe High School (Phil D.), Sunday, 5 September 2010 14:47 (2 years ago) Permalink
High school was '92-'99 for me and while britpop definitely led to an increase in people listening to indie/guitar type music, it didn't dominate to any extent - maybe it's the sort of school I went to but there was never really any consensus regarding music. For the first couple of years I definitely felt that there were divisions ('moshers' vs. 'ravers' or whatever) but after a while you realised that peoples' tastes were often more complex than you thought. We never had a common room until the sixth form - I never put anything on it but most of the stuff played was decent (notable exception: Ian Brown's solo album).
― Gavin in Leeds, Sunday, 5 September 2010 15:01 (2 years ago) Permalink
Sorry should be "put anything on in it"
― Gavin in Leeds, Sunday, 5 September 2010 15:02 (2 years ago) Permalink
The building at my school containing the common room was destroyed in a storm before we inherited it, so we were allocated a tiered lecture theatre as a replacement. Not a very relaxing place to chill out and nobody bothered putting in a stereo or anything. Some idiots smashed the place up on our last day, so that was probably a good call. Only a handful of kids were really into music anyway as I recall, so we set the agenda pretty much unopposed.
― Ismael Klata, Sunday, 5 September 2010 15:19 (2 years ago) Permalink
I was in high school in the Midwest from '82-'86. No common room, but art studios and a radio station with a 'classic rock' format - which was fought over by metalheads and punks. You were highly unlikely to be called queer for liking Prince in the Twin Cities, and luckily we had a posse of punk girls who'd been precocious gig-goers that Husker Du and the Replacements hung out with as peers ready to police anyone who gave people like me shit about their musical tastes, but if you liked British stuff as opposed to generic all-ages punk shit, the local flannel shirts often cried 'poseur'. The great mass of 'normal' students liked big hits (Blondie, Human League, The Police, The Clash) from certain new wavish groups but mostly listened to top 40. At a recent reunion some of the people who did give me shit about what I liked (smithscurebunnymenmarychainremcocteautwinsneworder) took me aside to say they were glad I listened to that stuff because they got into whatever I liked 2-3 years after I had.
The more I think about it, the more I've figured out that Jarvis is one of the only British people I can think of whose financial and family background almost exactly echoes my own; also there's the emotional thing of wanting to get the fuck out of Dodge because of the more conservative/conformist elements of the working/lower middle class people you call your family and neighbours. I'm sure he's also about as *eyeball roll* as I am about being told by a bourgeois that certain feelings of annoyance I have towards people who just don't seem like they think too hard about much of anything are *invalid*.
― maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Sunday, 5 September 2010 15:34 (2 years ago) Permalink
Eh, my high school was very rural -- nearly an hour from the nearest actual city (Cleveland) and fewer than 500 students in the entire school. I was, to my knowledge, the only student who had ever heard of R.E.M., let alone bought one of their albums, let alone any other indie rock or postpunk bands.
― Shock and Awe High School (Phil D.), Sunday, 5 September 2010 16:01 (2 years ago) Permalink
LOL, another parallel is that Sheffield - as far as having a healthy music scene in the late '70s and '80s, with its smattering of people who'd reach national significance, warehouse parties, influential indie labels and unusually good record stores - was so much like Minneapolis, the Human League were very happy to come there to work with Jam and Lewis when I was a senior in high school.
― maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Sunday, 5 September 2010 16:58 (2 years ago) Permalink
High school 85-88 and I listened to a random mix of top 40, classic rock and KROQ/91X style programming. As did everyone at school, pretty much. I don't remember one musical argument from the time at all!
― Ned Raggett, Sunday, 5 September 2010 17:10 (2 years ago) Permalink
1985-1992. Sixth form common room split between goths, Madchester/dance/hip hop types and classic-rock musos with strained tolerance the norm and occasional bursts of mutual admiration - the early 90s was a good time for crossover because of all the hip hop and indie-dance going on. I remember the real conflicts happening at house parties - we got evicted from a metal-dominated party for slipping on a tape of dance music. We deliberately started with 808 State's Cubik and In Yer Face in an attempt to woo the metalheads, to no avail.
― Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Sunday, 5 September 2010 17:37 (2 years ago) Permalink
In my latter years at secondary school, five of us in a sixth form of 100 odd liked indie. Jazz funk dominated. Indie types too small a number for anyone else to give a shit either way. But the dominance of the Smiths over indie in the mid-80s meant the music was characterised as crybaby stuff for bedwetters.
― ithappens, Sunday, 5 September 2010 17:56 (2 years ago) Permalink
Hi. I like this song and this thread.
I got a hold of this album right when it came out. I was probably in my second year of high school.
I always identified with the narrator of the song even though I wouldn't even know how to begin talking about talking about my own relationship with class without numerous paragraphs that would be of very little interest to many.
I just wanted to say, at the risk of taking this thread back a few hundred posts, that, contrary to a few people above, and maybe the spirit of this thread, I do appreciate Marx's focus on ownership as the primary factor in determining social class, even as the more stringent categories he lays out for class distinction do tend to obfuscate the value of the numerous paragraphs each of us could write about our own backgrounds.
A few posters have brought up the importance of choices, possibilities, etc. and how important one's sense of what is out there and what is possible might be in determining class. While this is certainly important, what is more important is that there are those who are able to actually determine what those choices and possibilities are.
What does this have to do with the song? Maybe(!) its the obliviousness to this fact on the part of both the wealthy and the working class that perpetuates the cult of working class authenticity that is distasteful to the narrator. On the one hand, Cocker has to resent that someone who may be of the class of people that could change the material conditions of the lives of the people would actually want to live like them, not out of political solidarity, but out of a twisted vision of social prestige but, on the other hand, he probably dislikes as well, even if he reinforces somewhat, the fatalism of working class culture and weird pride some have in their fatalistic view. The discomfort in the song comes form having to be mediator between the two*, though ultimately, he has to choose a side and he does, perhaps partially out of solidarity but also just because of the ethics of the situation.
*(and others have described above the feeling of having, due to circumstances out of one's control, to become a representative of a group one does not identify with out of choice - it is not a comfortable feeling - I know it as someone raised Jewish who is not Jewish and rather far to the left and not supportive of Israeli policy but also aware of the fact that simply because "I am Jewish" to other people, my thoughts will usually be assumed before being heard, I will usually be seen as speaking form a certain perspective that is not entirely my own, etc. and a sense of solidarity will be re-established between myself and other Jews/"Jews" purely out of being "put in my place")
― Shh! It's NOT Me!, Sunday, 5 September 2010 18:13 (2 years ago) Permalink