Common People: A lyrical discussion/dissection

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For reference:

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 a rum and coca-cola."
She said "Fine."
and in thirty seconds time she said,

"I want to live like common people,
I want to do whatever common people do,
I want to sleep with common people,
I want to sleep with common people,
like you."

Well what else could I do -
I said "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've got no money,
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 want to live like common people,
you want to see whatever common people see,
you want to sleep with common people,
you want to sleep with common people,
like me."
But she didn't understand,
she just smiled and held my hand.
Rent a flat above a shop,
cut your hair and get a job.
Smoke some fags and play some pool,
pretend you never went to school.
But still you'll never get it right,
cos when you're laid in bed at night,
watching roaches climb the wall,
if you call your Dad he could stop it all.

You'll never live like common people,
you'll never do what common people do,
you'll never fail like common people,
you'll never watch your life slide out of view,
and dance and drink and screw,
because there's nothing else to do.

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.

I want to live with common people,
I want to live with common people etc...

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 15:52 (six years ago) Permalink

Good lyrics.

Gucci Mane hermeneuticist (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 3 September 2010 15:53 (six years ago) Permalink

A fun song to dance to

Gucci Mane hermeneuticist (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 3 September 2010 15:53 (six years ago) Permalink

they do lack nuance, i will say that much.

strongohulkingtonsghost, Friday, 3 September 2010 15:53 (six years ago) Permalink

so that p4k list has now spawned discussions on 4 different threads now. but we don't care about p4k.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 15:53 (six years ago) Permalink

An even better karaoke number

(but not as good as "Disco 2000")

Gucci Mane hermeneuticist (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 3 September 2010 15:53 (six years ago) Permalink

there's also this bit in the album versh:

Like a dog lying in a corner,
they'll bite you and never warn you.
Look out.
They'll tear your insides out.

'Cause Everybody hates a tourist,
especially one who thinks
it's all such a laugh.
Yeah, and the chip stains' 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're amazed that they exist
and they burn so bright,
while you can only wonder why.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 15:55 (six years ago) Permalink

Never realised there was that extra bit before.

seandalai, Friday, 3 September 2010 15:56 (six years ago) Permalink

A couple of things about this song:

- I don't actually get why Karen/K@te is identifying with the rich culture tourist and not the narrator, who appears to be the "poor person at the posh school" archetype

- I totally get why Lex would hate a song that is a vituperative tirade against a slumming Paris Hilton-type

- I encountered this song LONG after it actually mattered but, had I heard it in my formative years, I would likely have bought every Pulp album

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 15:56 (six years ago) Permalink

This is our version from American, what do you think?

Wake up kid
Its half past you think
Nothings really changing but the date
You a grand slammer but you no Babe Ruth
You gotta learn how to relate
You'll be swinging for the pearly gates
Ohh I got all answers, lo and behold
You got the right key baby but the wrong key hole, yo

Well I woke up this morning
On the wrong side of the bed
And how I got to thinkin'
About all those things you said
About ordinary people
And how they make you sick
And if callin' names kicks back on you
Then I hope this does the trick

'Cause I'm sick of your complainin'
About how many bills
And I'm sick of all your bitchin'
'Bout your poodles and your pills
And I just can't see no humor
About your way of life
And I think I can do more for you
With this here fork and knife

(Chorus)
Eat The Rich
There's only one thing that they are good for
Eat The Rich
Take one bite now - come back for more
Eat The Rich
I gotta get this off my chest
Eat The Rich
Take one bite now - spit out the rest

So I called up my head shrinker
And I told him what I'd done
He said you best go on a diet
Yeah, I hope you have some fun
And a don't go burst the bubble
On rich folks who get rude
'Cause you won't get in no trouble
When you eats that kinda food

Now they're smokin' up their junk bonds
And then they go get stiff
And they're dancin' in the yacht club
With Muff and uncle Biff
But there's one good thing that happens
When you toss your pearls to swine
Their attitudes may taste like shit
But go real good with wine

Chorus

Believe in all the good things
That money just can't buy
Then you won't get no bellyache
From eatin' humble pie
I believe in rags to riches
Your inheritance won't last
So take your Gray poupon my friend
And shove it up your ass

Chorus

Eat The Rich
There's only one thing that they are good for
Eat The Rich
Take one bite now - come back for more
Eat The Rich
Don't stop me now, I'm goin' crazy
Eat The Rich
That's my idea of a good time baby

olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, 3 September 2010 15:58 (six years ago) Permalink

cut your hair and get a job.

crazy lower classes with their hair and their jobs

ledge, Friday, 3 September 2010 15:59 (six years ago) Permalink

The attitude described in "Common People" is such an amazing encapsulation of certain facets of the Ivy League experience, it's stunning.

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:00 (six years ago) Permalink

Haha. Holiday in Cambodia's in the same vein as Common People, especially the lines about ethnic jazz and "bragging that you know how the niggers feel cold", though Jello's target is a different social type.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:02 (six years ago) Permalink

kind of but the narrator of 'common people' thinks the slums got so much soul:

"You're amazed that they exist
and they burn so bright,
while you can only wonder why."

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:03 (six years ago) Permalink

The attitude described in "Common People" is such an amazing encapsulation of certain facets of the Ivy League experience, it's stunning.

― feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, September 3, 2010 9:00 AM (1 minute ago)

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:03 (six years ago) Permalink

"burn so bright" can also mean the slums are burning. It's all about the hysteria in Cocker's voice.

Gucci Mane hermeneuticist (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:07 (six years ago) Permalink

Oh definitely - just acknowledging that the target of Holiday in Cambodia is more of a jock. Again, it's a very specific song - about certain students at the University of Colorado in the late 70s. Both songs have the details that only come from real observation of individuals rather than attacking a type, a la Eat the Rich.

I'll put a word in for Cocker's vocal performance here - the way he ramps it up from wry satire in the first verse to screaming rage and contempt by the end. The song reminds me a bit of Transmission - the music just builds and builds while the vocal becomes increasingly ragged and unhinged.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:10 (six years ago) Permalink

Ah, I see Alfred already got there re: the vocal hysteria.

Hard to think of another 90s UK top 3 hit with such howling rage.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:12 (six years ago) Permalink

i always interpreted cocker's character as being middle class - like he's not really a part of either of those worlds - but maybe that's me projecting

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:12 (six years ago) Permalink

This song's a jam. I can't relate to either the narrator or the girl, nor really to anyone else in the song's vicinity. But it's a great "fuck you" song & that's a classic pop trope.

Would my view be different if I thought the "fuck you" was to me? I dunno. My love of pop music has a lot to do with role playing, & I love my enemies as myself.

Euler, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:13 (six years ago) Permalink

i always interpreted cocker's character as being middle class - like he's not really a part of either of those worlds - but maybe that's me projecting

^^^ ditto

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:13 (six years ago) Permalink

i always interpreted cocker's character as being middle class - like he's not really a part of either of those worlds - but maybe that's me projecting

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 5:12 PM (35 seconds ago) Bookmark

you're better off not delving into it tbh!

'middle class' covers a hell of a lot in this intricate class system of ours

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:14 (six years ago) Permalink

the narrator knows 'common' folk but is not one of them -- *you're* amazed that *they* exist. and he's at art school in that london. i guess he's taken her back home or something? n e ways, he is probably 'lower middle class'.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:15 (six years ago) Permalink

probably working class but was an outcast from that society, so he feels the need to disparage the rich girl for slumming it even though/because he loathes it himself.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:17 (six years ago) Permalink

i always interpreted cocker's character as being middle class - like he's not really a part of either of those worlds - but maybe that's me projecting

This, in a nutshell, is why I'm never trying to explain this song to an American, ever again.

And I did it many, many, many times, in anglophile circles, in the States, during the 90s.

Anyway, I've said pretty much every thing I need to say about this song on the other thread.

I don't think it's really related to pitchfork, though, I think it's more to do with that Different Class poll that's been hanging around new answers, but I'm never never going to post on a Pulp thread because I really quite dislike Pulp. (And it's probably more to do with very specific fans I have known than the band itself.)

Now I'm going to bow out.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:19 (six years ago) Permalink

i think i got the album my last year of college, and was totally obsessed with listening to it after i graduated and was living in SF working crappy temp jobs, so it was definitely a reminder of the limits of class mobility provided by a "good education," contrary to the mythology surrounding it. But, in a way, i was also kinda slumming - i mean, i could have gone into a more secure, lucrative profession. So, when i listened to the song, i'd alternately put myself in the position of his character, as well as the girl's. I mean, i'd be totally dishonest if i told myself that if i was totally broke that i couldn't call my parents and they'd buy me a month's work of groceries or help me out some on the rent.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:20 (six years ago) Permalink

I understand the British class system and I don't understand why you find that view so woefully incorrect. xpost

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:21 (six years ago) Permalink

the narrator knows 'common' folk but is not one of them -- *you're* amazed that *they* exist. and he's at art school in that london. i guess he's taken her back home or something? n e ways, he is probably 'lower middle class'.

― i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, September 3, 2010 9:15 AM (4 minutes ago)

that was my assumption as well, based on the literal narrative.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:22 (six years ago) Permalink

u cld argue that college makes u middle class as a matter of fact regardless of background, but i wouldn't go that far, plus i think the switch to "they" may be just a rhetorical decision

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:24 (six years ago) Permalink

the working/middle class distinction in britain has little to do with income. it tends to be about where you're from. which is why I like how complicated the relationship to class is on Common People and the album as a whole.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:26 (six years ago) Permalink

i remember they did t-shirts saying 'i'm common'... could never really get on board w. that, especially since they dropped 'mis-shapes' about two months later

it's a complicated song for a complicated society

u cld argue that college makes u middle class as a matter of fact regardless of background, but i wouldn't go that far, plus i think the switch to "they" may be just a rhetorical decision

― zvookster, Friday, September 3, 2010 5:24 PM (32 seconds ago) Bookmark

well, yes. but! it's art college, which isn't like college. but! it's st martins, which is hella posh (MIA went there).

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:26 (six years ago) Permalink

the working/middle class distinction in britain has little to do with income. it tends to be about where you're from. which is why I like how complicated the relationship to class is on Common People and the album as a whole.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:26 (six years ago) Permalink

the working/middle class distinction in britain has little to do with income. it tends to be about where you're from. which is why I like how complicated the relationship to class is on Common People and the album as a whole.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:26 (six years ago) Permalink

in a way, art school students are more likely to have roaches climbing the walls than people with short hair and jobs. i think?

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:28 (six years ago) Permalink

'lower middle class'

It's important to note that HM means English lower middle class which is diff than American middle class.

I agree with all those that said he's not a part of either groups described in the song.

God I love this song.

o sh!t a ˁ˚ᴥ˚ˀ (ENBB), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:28 (six years ago) Permalink

America doesn't have 'classes' btw didnt u kno

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:29 (six years ago) Permalink

history mayne - is it the kind of thing where lower middle class families are more likely to encourage/let their kids go to art school than solidly middle class ones? There's a bit of that here in the U.S. - there's this basically pay-to-play art school in SF called the Academy of Art University (née college) where most of the students are either from foreign countries and just want to be in America or seem like they're from lower-middle class backgrounds.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:31 (six years ago) Permalink

x-post

Waht?

o sh!t a ˁ˚ᴥ˚ˀ (ENBB), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:32 (six years ago) Permalink

probably working class but was an outcast from that society, so he feels the need to disparage the rich girl for slumming it even though/because he loathes it himself.

OTM. I think he definitely identifies as working class, not even lower middle class, but suddenly finds himself in a privileged environment and projects some of his own discomfort onto the girl. On the one hand, yes, he doesn't have a financial cushion so if he fails to make it (as Jarvis did for many years) then nobody's going to bail him out, so he genuinely resents this girl and most of her contemporaries. BUT the hysteria in his voice when he's describing working-class life suggests that he's happy to be away from it. Economically he is "one" of them but culturally and intellectually he feels apart. It's not uncommon for a bright, hungry, working-class student at a good university to feel at once relieved to be in a comfortable environment and awkward/guilty/resentful about it, and to take this huge ambivalence about what they've left behind out on someone who represents brainless entitlement.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:32 (six years ago) Permalink

It's not uncommon for a bright, hungry, working-class student at a good university to feel at once relieved to be in a comfortable environment and awkward/guilty/resentful about it, and to take this huge ambivalence about what they've left behind out on someone who represents brainless entitlement.

this happens in America, too - you see it more pronouncedly in African-American and Chicano students

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:34 (six years ago) Permalink

It's not uncommon for a bright, hungry, working-class student at a good university to feel at once relieved to be in a comfortable environment and awkward/guilty/resentful about it, and to take this huge ambivalence about what they've left behind out on someone who represents brainless entitlement.

Hopefully, you could also understand why someone who has been used as a scratching post to represent "brainless entitlement" by persons in that position could grow to really really REALLY resent the song.

Not trying to be all "wah, feel sorry for me" honest, but more "can you see why that would make someone hate it, not love it"?

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:35 (six years ago) Permalink

(ok I just noticed the other discussion that spawned this thread)

o sh!t a ˁ˚ᴥ˚ˀ (ENBB), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:38 (six years ago) Permalink

There's also the political backdrop here - how the working class were fought over by both the Tories and the unions/Militants in the 80s, how the 90s was meant to be the era of the classless society, etc - but that would take a long time to break down for any non-UK folk.

Karen, I can totally see why that experience would turn you against the song. I had a friend who tried to do that but it turned out that he was just a barmy fantasist whose dad, it transpired after two years of his asserting his working-class bona fides, was a lawyer in Cheshire.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:38 (six years ago) Permalink

so basically the UK in the 90s was supposed to be like America?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:39 (six years ago) Permalink

There's also the whole second part of my explanation of why I dislike this song (the common vs. posh and common vs. uncommon dichotomy) which has kind of been completely missed in all the class warrior and "americans vs. brits: you doing class rong" stuff.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:40 (six years ago) Permalink

there are two threads on the board at the moment with some previous discussion on this

for reference
Pitchfork: The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 20-01
"Please Understand. We don't want no trouble, we just want the right to be different. That's all." PULP - D.I.F.F.E.R.E.N.T.C.L.A.S.S poll

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:41 (six years ago) Permalink

wow, really?

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:42 (six years ago) Permalink

history mayne - is it the kind of thing where lower middle class families are more likely to encourage/let their kids go to art school than solidly middle class ones? There's a bit of that here in the U.S. - there's this basically pay-to-play art school in SF called the Academy of Art University (née college) where most of the students are either from foreign countries and just want to be in America or seem like they're from lower-middle class backgrounds.

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 5:31 PM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark

actually kind of, yeah. HOWEVER the LONDON art schools mix(ed) up talented misfits from the provinces with posh girls (who didn't used to go to university... of course they did by jarvis's time though).

i dunno about the 1980s, but it used to be that the london colleges were basically postgraduate institutions; you went there after your stint at one of the provincial art schools.

in the period the song is about it was more complex because you had this whole other stratum of higher education institutions that are now redesignated universities... and another however is that since the sixties art schools have been pressured more and more to produce 'people who are needed in the jobs market'.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:42 (six years ago) Permalink

There's also the whole second part of my explanation of why I dislike this song (the common vs. posh and common vs. uncommon dichotomy) which has kind of been completely missed in all the class warrior and "americans vs. brits: you doing class rong" stuff.

what was this again?

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:43 (six years ago) Permalink

i don't think there is that dichotomy Karen D.

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:44 (six years ago) Permalink

history mayne - is it the kind of thing where lower middle class families are more likely to encourage/let their kids go to art school than solidly middle class ones? There's a bit of that here in the U.S. - there's this basically pay-to-play art school in SF called the Academy of Art University (née college) where most of the students are either from foreign countries and just want to be in America or seem like they're from lower-middle class backgrounds.

I think this has more to do w/ the student loan racket + for-profit colleges more capable of taking advantage of lower-middle class people than 'art'.

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:45 (six years ago) Permalink

like, my family who is middle class, would not have let me go to art school - i could have majored in something "frivolous" and/or "artistic" (which i kinda did, though my mother reassured herself that this was not the case by clipping NYT articles about how semiotics majors were much desired by advertising agencies) - but only at a regular 4 year university, where i could change my mind and pick a more useful major

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:46 (six years ago) Permalink

Don't feel like searching and copying and pasting again. Go and look it up on the P4k 20 thread if you are really interested. But again, it depends on cultural context and personal experiences so YMMV.

I'm off home now.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:46 (six years ago) Permalink

though my mother reassured herself that this was not the case by clipping NYT articles about how semiotics majors were much desired by advertising agencies

aw

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:47 (six years ago) Permalink

(which is to say I don't think upper middle class people are less likely to go to art school, they just avoid schools that spend half their budget on tv commercials) xp

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:47 (six years ago) Permalink

found it Kate.

For reference:

Eh, usually I wouldn't post something like this on ILX because I know that both Common People and Cocker himself are such sacred cows (and I don't want my dislike to be interpreted as some lame challops for the sake of it any more than I want to repeat arguments I've had since the mid 90s.) But for you, Lex, I'll say a little of it, because I suspect you will understand my reasoning.

1) The terrible awareness that I (middle class, arty, have probably engaged in bouts of class tourism) am exactly the person that the entire nasty vipituous diatribe is aimed at. You're right. I will never *really* know what it's like not to have an expensive education. I will never *really* know what it's like not to have my class background. I don't think that gives you (author or listener) the automatic right to sneer at such a person for wanting to broaden my horizons and *trying* to understand. And also, due to peculiar quirks of the British class system (that one can actually have education and breeding and still be as poor as a church mouse) this does *not* mean that I do not know what it means to live with lack or poverty or difficult choices or narrowed horizons.

2) the conflation of the British class system (Posh vs. Common) with the idea of common vs. uncommon. You're right. I will *never* live like "Common people" and, in fact, I absolutely *refuse* to live "like common people" because I refuse to see it as something negative to aspire towards the extraordinary, the sublime, thegoodthebeautifulthetrue. This song, for me, really encapsulates this kind of negative anti-cultural-Thatcherism which produces some pretty questionable aesthetic results and political conclusions if taken to the logical conclusion. The only kind of aspiration is *not* simply the material kind. I am the kind of person who will spend money on books when she hasn't the money for new clothes, so this has nothing to do with wealth. I can NOT conceive of a world where there is nothing else to do but "drink and dance and screw, because there's nothing else to do" because no matter how little money I have, I *always* have my imagination and enough intellect to think of *something* else. I refuse to apologise for that.

I realise that these things are not entirely of Cocker's intentions, but they are certainly what the song has come to symbolise. In fact, I would have thought that Cocker, with his weirdo arty intellectual background, would understand, but, as we talked about on twitter yesterday, if you play with archetypes that are bigger than you, usually it's you that gets played.

This will of course all be misunderstood and torn to pieces because I don't think I've expressed this very well, but hey, it's Friday afternoon on ILX, I've got time. :-/

― cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, September 3, 2010 1:48 PM (2 hours ago) Bookmark

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:48 (six years ago) Permalink

So as to part 2, I'll say again that I think Cocker/his character is pretty disparaging of the 'dance and drink and screw coz there's nothing else to do' mentality.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:49 (six years ago) Permalink

iatee - i'm not talking about upper middle class people - they're gonna send their kids to CCA or SFAI or art schools with cultural prestige - i'm talking solid middle class vs. lower middle.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:50 (six years ago) Permalink

disagree tho dorian pointed out ambivalence here xp

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:51 (six years ago) Permalink

it's basically a defense of that.

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:51 (six years ago) Permalink

he has a complicated relationship with it to be sure

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:52 (six years ago) Permalink

right! which is why I think the phenomenon of lower-middle class people at academy of art sf has more in common w/ the phenomenon of lower-middle class devry and university of phoenix - than it does w/ the idea of 'art school'...

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:54 (six years ago) Permalink

lower-middle class peopel at* devry

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 16:54 (six years ago) Permalink

again, when jarvis went to college under the evil margaret thatcher, there was more money for art students

think that posh folk these days don't bother slumming coz they don't even feel guilt

solid middle class vs. lower middle

in the end it's too complex, i couldn't quite say, or could only speak from experience, which isn't exactly either of these. i dunno if you've seen 'nowhere boy' (abt john lennon) -- i didn't think it was a masterpiece, but i think it deals with these ridiculously nuanced class distinctions quite well. can't remember if j-len gets static for wanting to go to art school, but it wasn't a university-or-art-school choice back then, for the lower middle classes; it was get a job (or maybe technical college, or possibly if you're a misfit art college).

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:55 (six years ago) Permalink

That second bullet point takes a statement made in the context of disparaging an over-privileged person for exoticizing and fetishizing the experiences of people with less money as being more real and authentic and recasts it as an indictment of aspiring to have more than what you have. I never scanned that line as being disparaging of people who attempt to aspire for more than what they have; it seems as clear as day to be disparaging people for pretending they have less than what they have.

This is of course the totally wrong biased American reading of the song.

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 16:58 (six years ago) Permalink

dan otm. jarvis is not saying that the common folk's MO is something to aspire to, but he is indeed 'disparaging people for pretending they have less than what they have.'

but i think kate is a bit otm too, factoring in how the song was received (ie by hypocritical middle-class alts). but that was a long time ago!

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:01 (six years ago) Permalink

well one thing I think we can all agree upon is that most hypocritical middle-class alts are really dumm

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:02 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm not sure if we're agreeing or ... basically the point i'm trying to make/hypothesis i'm throwing out there, because i'm not omniscient and haven't rigorously studied is:

In America -

upper middle class family: oh, honey, you want to go to art school, you are such a special snowflake and so talented because you are our child after all and we want you to live up to your fullest potential - well, of course you can go to art school, but only if you get into a prestigious one

middle class family: that doesn't sound like something that will get you a good job - can't you just go to a good state school with a good art department, take some art classes but major in something "real" - like elementary education? You can get a job teaching art to kids, at least.

lower-middle class family: Art school? Honey, you can do anything you want, you should follow your dreams, and they accepted you? Wonderful!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:03 (six years ago) Permalink

I'd agree with that, although you also have to factor in American class movement and how a person who is now upper middle class who grew up lower middle class or lower class is much more likely to have the middle class reaction

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:04 (six years ago) Permalink

do you mean that they are upper middle class - or that they have more money?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:06 (six years ago) Permalink

Don't get all british on us, sarah.

olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:07 (six years ago) Permalink

Dan otm. My parents, who were umc by the time I went to college, grew up lower class (in the UK, but let's forget about that for a sec) and would simply have refused to allow me to attend art school, but allowed my brother to study music in college only in a music-education course.

elephant rob, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:07 (six 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, 3 September 2010 17:08 (six years ago) Permalink

xp - kkvgz - my dad's stepmom, who for all intents and purposes was my grandmother - was a middle class Londoner before she emigrated to the US as an adult

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:09 (six years ago) Permalink

in order for class distinctions to have any meaning, they have to be at least partly about how much money you have! my parents are probably not what most people think of when they think upper middle class because they don't come from money and they're immigrants and brown, but they make more money than, like, 90% of the country. Dan's otm, btw, they were v displeased with the course i followed in my education. they were right btw.

xxp to sarahel

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:10 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah, but the mistake a lot of people make about the class system in the US is they equate money with class, as opposed to it only being partly about how much money you have. cultural capital is a significant factor.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:11 (six years ago) Permalink

...

yeah but in terms of advantages and privilege afforded at birth the actual $ is a big deal.

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:12 (six years ago) Permalink

i dunno - i grew up around a number of people whose families had money (they weren't rich, but they had incomes equivalent to upper middle class families) and their kids had dozens of pairs of guess jeans and got new cars when they turned 16, but when it came to things like college or cultural opportunities that would aid their kids in future careers: the kids didn't care, and neither did their parents.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:14 (six years ago) Permalink

these people vacationed at disneyland or went to Hawaii - or they'd pay for the teenage kid and a friend or two to go to Hawaii - not exactly classy.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:16 (six years ago) Permalink

they were v displeased with the course i followed in my education. they were right btw.

lol. yes, I now join in with my parents in smh at my english degree.

elephant rob, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:16 (six years ago) Permalink

On the bus now & this is gonna take forever but...

The whole thing about point 2 & the reaction of Brit alt at the time was this fetishisation of "working class authenticity" & the accompanying dull leaden culture that went with it - reaching it's apotheosis in what would become landfill indie. & ignoring (& actually disparraging in other forms) the flashy mod side of actual working class art. I know this is a big part of what gets up Lex's nose as well.

Hopefully someone smarter & more articulate will take this & expand on it.

I don't think this was Cocker's intention with this song but this song certainly got used as justification for the later lad-ification of 90s indie.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:16 (six years ago) Permalink

so basically this was an equivalent of the "keepin' it real" ethos?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:18 (six years ago) Permalink

lol sarahel u strike me as from a different planet sometimes, i just can't make sense of where you're coming from

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:27 (six years ago) Permalink

it is true - i am actually an alien from outer space.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:28 (six years ago) Permalink

For US posters.....
Alongside the posh V common thing, it's important to remember that Cocker is from Sheffield - which gives a different weight to the setting 'St. Martin's College' (many English people mightn't know where it is, but for those who do, it is quintessentially metropolitan, and for those not from London, it's very 'London') - the singer is clearly Northern (accent would be immediately apparent to British listeners) so St. Martin's is not his home turf either.

sonofstan, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:29 (six years ago) Permalink

would it be similar to say - someone from the midwest going to NYC?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:30 (six years ago) Permalink

cultural capital is a significant factor

I think sarahel is getting at something interesting actually; I mean this helps explain why American politics doesn't divide along class lines and yet during elections superficial class issues become a big deal (Obama's mustard choices or whatever)

elephant rob, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:30 (six years ago) Permalink

horseshoe also raised a really important point about US vs. UK class difference vis a vis the history of immigration here and how immigrants are perceived and that it is probably more complicated here than in the UK.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:32 (six years ago) Permalink

I was attending Oxford University as a Marshall scholar when this song was a hit. I was, er, hooking up at the time with what I guess would be termed a very "rough trade" working class kid, a young barman who lived in a flat with some flatmates across town. I was over at his place and we watched the video for this on "Top of the Pops" at his place and there was this jubilation that he and his flatmates felt about this tune being a big pop hit and I felt this deep/comic humiliation and feeling of being "hailed" / called out by the song. Because I really was a totally privileged kid from an elitist school who was hanging out with these working class kids and kind of reveling in feeling like I had snuck into a world where I didn't belong and there was Jarvis laying it down. As an American I'm outside of Brit class systems frameworks, but this kind of slumming dynamic was a constant at Oxford: kids who would affect a Cockney accent and working class voices/slang, but then they'd be off to Blenheim to ride with the Duchess of Marlborough come the weekend.

the tune is space, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:33 (six years ago) Permalink

Oh man - the slumming dynamic at Ivy League schools drove me crazy ... but it was good preparation for dealing with other white "hipsters" living in Oakland who affect ghetto slang

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 17:37 (six years ago) Permalink

That's strange, Karen, I think Pulp represent the exact opposite of 90s laddism. Oasis portrayed working-class identity as pure good times, don't read books, don't worry about politics, etc - Pulp were the arty, intellectually aspirational, misfit alternative. If people took Pulp as representative of simple blue-collar "authenticity" then they were only listening to one song, and misunderstanding it to boot. It's bizarre to single out Pulp, of all bands, as responsible for boring landfill indie.

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.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:39 (six years ago) Permalink

I'm not saying that Pulp were lad culture, quite the reverse. But THAT SONG was definitely mis-used by middle class ppl who wanted to rep for a really one dimensional take on "working class authenticity".

But you seem determined to misunderstand everything I say (probably because you really like the song, fair enough) but also it is really hard to make nuanced points on an iPhone on a crowded bus.

I find this song really hard to separate from negative contexts, bad ppl who have used it to justify stuff I think Cocker never intended.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 17:48 (six years ago) Permalink

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 (six 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 (six 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 (six years ago) Permalink

waht

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

Dan, did you have to cut your hair?

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

pavement ref iirc

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

london's fields vibe:

what is this?

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

http://cdn2.mog.com/images/000210931214520987.jpg

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

wondered abt that after a few months tbh

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

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

fit and working again, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:37 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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')

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATWnH-yb6-o&ob=av2e

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

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

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

makes me like him more tbh. xpost

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 18:59 (six years ago) Permalink

i dunno - i feel like the song operates on multiple levels - like he's projecting his own slumming/misfit-ism onto her, but he's mainly talking about himself

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 18:59 (six years ago) Permalink

I think also a lot of my discomfort hinges on the triple meaning of the word "common" - that I grew up in a family where still, into my childhood, my mother (learning from my grannies) would use the word "common" to mean bad, coarse, vulgar, degraded (as in "you mustn't get your ears pierced, pierced ears are sooo common, darling") - which is a hideously classist usage of the term, but an association that still sticks in my head when I hear this song. Like, I think Cocker is almost deliberately alluding to *that* use of the term when he uses "Common people" as well as the class usage and the common vs. uncommon (ordinary vs weird) use. Which makes it more weird for me.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:01 (six years ago) Permalink

Directing all this bile at this non-comprehending Greek student just makes him seem like a bully, TBH.

(And you can say all "yeah, but he was bullied himself!" but it doesn't make me like him, or the song, more.)

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:03 (six years ago) Permalink

I never thought of the 'ordinary vs weird' usage of common in this song. it's always been a classist term, dripping with the same disdain of 'the great unwashed'. xpost

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:03 (six years ago) Permalink

of course he's alluding to the usage of common = coarse, vulgar !!!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:03 (six years ago) Permalink

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, September 3, 2010 11:56 AM (1 minute ago) Bookmark

i think that this is a big part of what's artistically interesting about the song. what i posted in some other thread:

i think it's not so much the suggestion that the rage & sneering are unearned, but that they're sort of misdirected at this basically harmless/guileless rich girl, simply for being who she is. agree that the song builds to this ecstasy of self-righteous fury and that it effectively invites us to share & revel in that. also that in its terrible intensity it begins to subvert itself, making us think about the anger's underlying sources and why it's choosing this particular target for its expression. how much of that is intentional and what level of authorial distance is intended are left completely unclear, which adds to the song's power, imo.

― having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, September 3, 2010 3:13 AM (8 hours ago) Bookmark

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:05 (six years ago) Permalink

Like, I think Cocker is almost deliberately alluding to *that* use of the term when he uses "Common people" as well as the class usage and the common vs. uncommon (ordinary vs weird) use. Which makes it more weird for me.

― cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, September 3, 2010 12:01 PM (3 minutes ago) Bookmark

he's obviously & intentionally using the word this way, for effect.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:06 (six years ago) Permalink

See, I zeroed right in on the conformist aspects of the word common as in the "ordinary vs weird" meaning, hence my "even during the times that I have been seriously fucking poor, I will *NEVER* live like common people" which is kind of a rejection of that assumption in his lyrics that you *have* to be limited because you are common.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:07 (six years ago) Permalink

for all the talk itt about "cultural signifiers" rather than just raw MONEY being the real class arbiters, well, i dunno

But still you'll never get it right,
cos when you're laid in bed at night,
watching roaches climb the wall,
if you call your Dad he could stop it all.

You'll never live like common people,
you'll never do what common people do,
you'll never fail like common people,
you'll never watch your life slide out of view,
and dance and drink and screw,
because there's nothing else to do.

these lines are about the money! i think the song is, in a way, trying to bash its way through all the cultural stuff (about which miss greek feels like being touristy) to get at the real thing. "common people" live their lives with not much material resources to throw at their problems, or their dreams, whatever they are. and more importantly, they live in the knowledge that more money is never going to come, there's "nothing else to do", very tight material circumstances will always obtain. there is no "making it" iow.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:08 (six years ago) Permalink

now who doesn't understand British class. xpost

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:09 (six years ago) Permalink

having been a harmless/guileless posh (but not necessarily rich) girl at whom this kind of bile has been directed, I don't find it particularly interesting. I just find it bullying. But, as always, not looking for sympathy, just stating why I dislike the song. YMMV.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:09 (six years ago) Permalink

But still you'll never get it right,
cos when you're laid in bed at night,
watching roaches climb the wall,
if you call your Dad he could stop it all.

Conflation of middle/upper class with money.

you'll never fail like common people,
you'll never watch your life slide out of view,
and dance and drink and screw,
because there's nothing else to do.

Conflation of working class "common" with "common" meaning smallness and ordinariness.

I don't think this song is working its way past class stereotypes, it's just reinforcing them in the most negative ways possible. And I'm as disinterested in that as I am in being someone's scratching post for their class issues. DO NOT WANT.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:14 (six years ago) Permalink

girl in this song would do very well in Hollywood

btw, song ruined forever in America by Shatner

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:14 (six years ago) Permalink

I think the reinforcing them in a negative way aspect is a good thing.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:16 (six years ago) Permalink

it's not 'conflation', upper and middle class people have more money

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:16 (six years ago) Permalink

it's not 'conflation', upper and middle class people have more money

Not NECESSARILY, according to this weird, medieval definition of "class" that UK people have.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:19 (six years ago) Permalink

how do they get the money, though?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:19 (six years ago) Permalink

Mr Darcy iirc

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:20 (six years ago) Permalink

I think the reinforcing them in a negative way aspect is a good thing.

Wait, waht, you WANT to reinforce the idea that working class people are by definition coarse and vulgar and incapable of doing anything more enlightening than drinking and dancing and screwing? Really?

Wow, and I thought I was Victorian. o_0

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:21 (six years ago) Permalink

girl: "i want to try living this way"
dude: "uh ok but most people who live this way don't really have a choice, and it's pretty terrible. a lot of them don't even realize they're stuck. ps if you want to screw i'll go along with it for a while"

that's the story anyway, if we believe rich greek college girls who are hot to bone jarvis cocker exist

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:23 (six years ago) Permalink

Wait, waht, you WANT to reinforce the idea that working class people are by definition coarse and vulgar and incapable of doing anything more enlightening than drinking and dancing and screwing? Really?

Wow, and I thought I was Victorian. o_0

The fact that character does makes it interesting. It reflects a complicated relationship with his class background. That enriches the song.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:28 (six years ago) Permalink

i like to think that he's the janitor for the sculpture studio - or maybe an artist model? Like I know a lot of people that do that for a living.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:30 (six years ago) Permalink

Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here

^^^^ worst line

buzza, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:32 (six years ago) Permalink

Sarahel, this is my stock "North American and British person have really conflicting ideas of what 'middle class' means story:

My Canadian bass player and I go to visit our English keyboard player in her Essex home.

Canadian: "Hey, you guys are pretty middle class"
English: "OH MY GOD HOW CAN YOU INSULT ME LIKE THAT?!?!?"

What the Canadian meant was, Hey, your parents own your own house. Your dad works a white collar job in an office. You are currently attending University. Your parents are both fully funding your studies, and giving you enough money on the side for you to engage in nice leisure activities like being in a band. (Also, we have noticed that your parents bought your musical instrument, while we paid for ours from our dayjobs.)

What the English person meant was, Hey, I'm from a working class part of Essex. Even though my parents bought their home under Thatcher, I live in a working class neighbourhood. My dad works in an office, but my grandfather worked on the factory floor. I identify as working class, on account of my background, no matter how much cashflow my parents currently have.

Class in the UK is about identity, not so much money. Seriously.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:34 (six years ago) Permalink

plenty of UK ppl wld call that middle-class

zvookster, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:36 (six years ago) Permalink

she's right about a certain section though. i made the point earlier, of course. ahem.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:36 (six years ago) Permalink

She and her family all identified as working class. And I think the working class community in which they were embedded also identified them as working class.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:37 (six years ago) Permalink

oh, there's definitely a category of middle class people in the US according to lifestyle/income/cultural signifiers that feel insulted when called middle class, even if/when their parents were middle class, but a generation back they were working class. Like middle class is a pejorative term, like hipster.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:38 (six years ago) Permalink

all that business is why it's such an interesting song btw

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:39 (six years ago) Permalink

otm

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:40 (six years ago) Permalink

a question for Britishers - is it normal for middle class people from the provinces who aspire to hip urbanity to take working class jobs in order to live somewhere like London? Like art school janitor, or record store clerk, or bartender?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:41 (six years ago) Permalink

yes, but that doesn't make them working class.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:42 (six years ago) Permalink

shit, i was a kitchen porter last year. i wouldn't consider myself working class though.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:42 (six years ago) Permalink

no, exactly - that's how it is here, too, though some of them will refer to themselves as working class, when in fact, their parents have houses with paid off mortgages and paid for them to go to college, etc.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:43 (six years ago) Permalink

Class is (vast generalisation) simply more persistent in the UK and more mobile in the US, that, like, you can change class in the US within a generation.

And it cuts both ways, in that it's weird how you can persist in being "posh" in the UK even as you're penniless, on account of things like who your grandparents were and what education you had. Being posh is no actual guarantee that your "dad can stop it all" (though maybe he can just about send you a cheque for $200 if you threaten to sell your ovaries, but it means he's got to keep the garage door closed for the next few months so his car doesn't get repossessed)

But blah blah speaking of reinforcing stereotypes blah blah blah etc.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:44 (six years ago) Permalink

class in America tends to be more fluid. it's less of an identity thing. America likes to think of itself as a classless society a lot of the time.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:45 (six years ago) Permalink

So what was the deal with the other Pulp song, Mis-Shapes?

olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:46 (six years ago) Permalink

Maybe this song is just a giant lens through which we can project our own insecurities about class.

So yeah, it is effective on that level. Still doesn't mean I like it, mind you.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:46 (six years ago) Permalink

America likes to think of itself as a classless society a lot of the time.

HAH!

(sorry, did I say that aloud? issues...)

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:46 (six years ago) Permalink

i think Americans just aren't as comfortable/used to discussing class - it's easier to talk about money - there is definitely more mobility in a lot of spheres, but there is also a lot of denial and delusionality about it

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:46 (six years ago) Permalink

class in the UK is a holdover of a bygone era these days. plumbers can make twice as much as a university lecturer, but the former would still say they're working class and the latter would say they were middle class (or even upper, if they're from the right breeding). and the derision against other classes works all ways.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:47 (six years ago) Permalink

HAH!

(sorry, did I say that aloud? issues...)

it's true!

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:49 (six years ago) Permalink

America likes to PRETEND that it doesn't have class.

My parents were stupid enough to actually buy the myth that America was a "classless society" when we emigrated there, and my god, was that a rude awakening.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:50 (six years ago) Permalink

hence the "likes to think of itself"

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:50 (six years ago) Permalink

i don't think the political affiliations / subtle gradations of "working class" and "middle class" are really present in the song at all. those distinctions are elided by both the girl and cocker into "common people", who exist far below the strata of person the greek girl is anyway.

the whole point of the song is that resources and possibilities determine attitudes and culture ("you'll never get it right")

the girl wants to live a funny little common person life, because it sounds charming. and he's railing at her that a) it only sounds charming because she can check out and go back to rich-land whenever she wants, and more importantly b) the very components of life she wants to play around with -- dancind-drinking-screwing, chip shops -- are borne out of a type of life with no escape

xps in the US, that, like, you can change class in the US within a generation.

^^ fwiw in real money terms this is totally wrong, class mobility in the US is shockingly constrained, compared to the rest of the oecd. but this is another whole set of myths...

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:50 (six years ago) Permalink

i just remember in junior year of high school, discussing The Great Gatsby. Our english teacher was from Connecticut - her father was a professor at Amherst - and she was trying to get the class to see the class difference between the Buchanans and Gatsby - and my classmates just could not grasp that they weren't of the same class because the characters all were rich.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:51 (six years ago) Permalink

lol your classmates sounded like the were on to something, rather than missing the point, to me

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:52 (six years ago) Permalink

I'd agree with all of that, but the guy's view on/representation of the 'common people' adds another level.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:53 (six years ago) Permalink

xpost to goole

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:53 (six years ago) Permalink

old money vs new money in the US. a distinction that only really matters to the old money tbh.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:53 (six years ago) Permalink

lol your classmates sounded like the were on to something, rather than missing the point, to me

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:52 PM (44 seconds ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

otm this is my pet peeve about discussions of class

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:54 (six years ago) Permalink

(in America; i guess i don't really get England)

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:54 (six years ago) Permalink

uh, actually no - it really doesn't work that way with certain strata of American society - they'll be polite and attempt to stifle condescencion (or not) - but it'll be obvious whose in the metaphorical old boys club and who isn't.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:55 (six years ago) Permalink

there isn't any old money anymore

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:55 (six years ago) Permalink

uh, yeah there is.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:56 (six years ago) Permalink

a question for Britishers - is it normal for middle class people from the provinces who aspire to hip urbanity to take working class jobs in order to live somewhere like London? Like art school janitor, or record store clerk, or bartender?

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 8:41 PM (1 minute ago) Bookmark

it's kind of an interesting qn coz i'd reckon that now more than 25 years ago (when jarvis moved to london) these 'working class jobs' are done by minorities/immigrants who don't really feature in pulp's class landscape

i shd have clarified earlier re 'if you called your dad he could stop it' -- i guess for a large-ish number of people, perhaps more than in jarvis's day, even, it's more like, if you called your dad he could 'help out' because entry-level positions in arts admin/the media/______ are s0 hard to come by.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:56 (six years ago) Permalink

and even among the middle classes - there is a tension about people who have similar income and live in their neighborhoods that are "coming from" a lower class, because there are often different values

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 19:57 (six years ago) Permalink

there most certainly is. but it's interesting where the cut-off point is. the closes to blue bloods you had for the longest time i think were DAR type people. then industrialists came in and, after a number of generations, were accepted into that society. i mean, how many generations are the Kennedy's removed from their origins as the bootleggers? and yet they'd be deemed 'aristocratic'.

xxpost

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:58 (six years ago) Permalink

Class in the UK is about identity, not so much money. Seriously.

― cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Friday, September 3, 2010 12:34 PM (15 minutes ago) Bookmark

yes, but it's also about the money. and this song is more about the underlying realities of class, about crushing poverty that one can't escape, or comes to feel somehow that one can't escape. someone said upthread that it attempts to cut through the class = culture baggage to get at money issues at the heart of it, and that's otm, afaic.

it's a burning hate letter to those who don't have to worry about surviving, and it's deliberately delivered in such a way as to exacerbate class tensions, it delights in its rage against the posh & empowered, and i can see as how one might dislike it for that reason, but there's more to the song than one-sided aggression. it critiques itself, ultimately lacerates its own narrator more than this harmless-seeming greek girl.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 19:59 (six years ago) Permalink

oh it's relative - different regions have different old money - new england old money behaves a bit different than midwestern old money vs. southern old money ...

and there's also the current issue in America w/r/t the new urbanism where you have middle class and upper middle class people settling in working class neighborhoods and you see some definite clashes

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:00 (six years ago) Permalink

So what was the deal with the other Pulp song, Mis-Shapes?

― olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, September 3, 2010 8:46 PM (9 minutes ago) Bookmark

this was a pretty basic 'alts takin over' narrative. britpop kind of felt like indie music 'breaking into the mainstream'. i h8d because britpop *really* meant that all the lamestreamers were listening to 'our' music or an increasingly formulaic version thereof. now i just lol coz it's not like any of it was ever particularly challenging.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:00 (six years ago) Permalink

there isn't any old money anymore

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:55 PM (3 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

uh, yeah there is.

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:56 PM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

there kind of is, i guess, but the only place these people's lives have ever intersected with mine was at college, because i went to a pricey ivy league one, and since they just made themselves up and decided they were "old noney" and there are like three of them, metaphorically speaking, i have to wonder whether it matters. for the purposes of most discussions of class, again, what matters is how much money you make. ftr wrt gatsby, the made-up-ness of American aristocracy is the whole point.

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:01 (six years ago) Permalink

i mean what really distinguished those people in college from me was that their parents had an insane amount of accumulated wealth, not that they were aristocratic in some way.

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:02 (six years ago) Permalink

who really is 'old money', anymore, in 2010? someone with a dutch name living off central park? that's like twelve people anymore. i think it's a whole conceptual framework that capital & management has completely discarded, certainly past the 90s and globalization. it seems to live on in literature studies tho.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:02 (six years ago) Permalink

otm

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:03 (six years ago) Permalink

i'd agree that it's breaking apart, but there were sections of my hometown in Alabama that were walled off, old money. they mixed with the new money, of course, but also had (basically) hereditary positions in clubs and charities and what have you. new money had to be invited.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:03 (six years ago) Permalink

Listening to this song now, immediate thought (and banal): lyrics only make sense in context of the song.

Neil S, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:04 (six years ago) Permalink

well I think there definitely was a period of time where there was a discernable American aristocracy (hi dere Vanderbilts) but I think the culture window has narrowed significantly over the last 100 years, largely via entertainment, fashion and technology

not to say there still aren't "old money" ppl because there certainly are; there just aren't that many of them

xp: oh damn you all said all of this already, explicitly and implicitly

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:04 (six years ago) Permalink

college was the big intersection for me, but i used to do audio-visual work at hotels, and listen to/interact with the clients, and there definitely are class differences w/r/t how "the help" is treated, and what the people talk about.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:05 (six years ago) Permalink

definitely in the U.S. who qualifies as "old money" is fluid in a lot of areas, but the concept of nouveau riche exists, and has existed for at least a couple centuries. How powerful a determinant old vs. new is in this country is up for debate, and it depends on where you live, what industries you work in, etc.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:08 (six years ago) Permalink

new money vs. old was ever anywhere near as powerful a cultural divider in the US as wealth vs. class was in england. kind of a wan new world reenactment of the old, and i'm sure it still persists (i know people for whom it does), but not in a terribly meaningful manner. gatsby's tragedy lay more in what he desired than what he was actually denied.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:14 (six years ago) Permalink

wrt Jarvis as northern, working-class guy who lucked into college/london but still felt these class constraints, this line from mis-shapes:

"Oh we weren't supposed to be, we learnt too much at school now we can't help but see/That the future that you've got mapped out is nothing much to shout about."

and this one from "glory days":

"When you've seen how big the world is/how can you make do with this?"

Seem to back that reading up. He's describing this aspirational class that's educated and cultured, but still very much materially, like in terms of economics, stuck. "Common People" resonated like crazy with me because of this.

like a musical album. made by a band. (fucking in the streets), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:16 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm just saying that class differences in the U.S. exist and are noted - though often (?) are not spoken of as being related to class.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:17 (six years ago) Permalink

and i wonder if we're deliberately avoiding working class American attitudes towards class, and those of people of other classes, because it would involve a discussion about race

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:19 (six years ago) Permalink

US often conflates class with race

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:19 (six years ago) Permalink

for the sake of Dan's productivity, we might not want to go down that path.

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

N.B Please do not read the lyrics whilst listening to the recordings.

like a musical album. made by a band. (fucking in the streets), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:23 (six years ago) Permalink

Would it be fair to say that in the u.s., power and money are just more imp8rtant than class?

olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:24 (six years ago) Permalink

sarah otm, i think that's true. maybe people still like to pretend that the U.S. is a "classless" society, but this is just BS.

i've maybe talked about this before, but there was recently a three-day "hempfest" drug celebration in a public park near my neighborhood. drew tens of thousands of weed enthusiasts. and for days a rode/walked around in a state of horrifed revulsion at the weedian dregs. i fucking loathed them and their dreadlocks and their tye dye and their ICP pants and their hoodies. they seemed to me like the worst people imaginable, and i couldn't imagine why any supposedly legit political rally (hempfest posits itself as political activism) could hope to succeed by associating itself with such.

but i'm middle class, from an upper class background. and my resolutely working class girlfriend was much less horrified. (she gets horrifed by hipsters in williamsburg, but that's another story.) which made me wonder if my revulsion wasn't a legit reaction to stupid burnouts, but rather simple revulsion at the culture of a different class. so yeah, class in america.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:24 (six years ago) Permalink

US often conflates class with race

― a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, September 3, 2010 4:19 PM

for the sake of Dan's productivity, we might not want to go down that path.

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 4:20 PM

haha I was about to say it anyway

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:25 (six years ago) Permalink

Would it be fair to say that in the u.s., power and money are just more imp8rtant than class?

― olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, September 3, 2010 4:24 PM (25 seconds ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

money IS class in America

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:25 (six years ago) Permalink

well, yes. I know that. I'm just trying to reach an agreement with everybody else so we can all go out an enjoy this labor day weekend.

olivia tribble control (kkvgz), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:28 (six years ago) Permalink

contenderizer, your revulsion at twats is probably just because they're twats.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:29 (six years ago) Permalink

xp - power and money are stronger determinants of future status, opportunities, etc. But there are so many ilx threads that are America-centric that are about things that are basically class signifiers and the issues people have with them or affiliate with them - it definitely has an effect, though undoubtedly nowhere near the way it does in the UK

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:29 (six years ago) Permalink

money IS class in America

― horseshoe, Friday, September 3, 2010 1:25 PM (4 minutes ago)

horseshoe are you familiar with the "Touch of Class" SUV limousine?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:30 (six years ago) Permalink

is that just one of those stretch SUV limos? i have seen them around!

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:33 (six years ago) Permalink

yes - pretty much - "Touch of Class" was the name of a company in Vegas that operated a fleet of them, that when i saw one, i shook my head and laughed, because those things are so ostentatiously a sign of failing at being classy.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:34 (six years ago) Permalink

and that TV show - Jersey Shore?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:36 (six years ago) Permalink

and i wonder if we're deliberately avoiding working class American attitudes towards class, and those of people of other classes, because it would involve a discussion about race

can't imagine that discussion going well, but...

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:37 (six years ago) Permalink

don't go there dude.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:38 (six years ago) Permalink

haha for real

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:38 (six years ago) Permalink

goole thoroughly OTM IMO

Given that the lyrics specifically paint a picture of someone ridiculously wealthy, arguing about whether it's attacking upper-middle/upper-class but cash poor people is kind of beside the point.

fun fact: neither posh, "middle class" nor any other class is actually referred to in the lyrics

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:39 (six years ago) Permalink

i think history mayne's interpretation is pretty solid

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:41 (six years ago) Permalink

don't go there dude.

nup

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:42 (six years ago) Permalink

help me describe how money does not equal class in America!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:42 (six years ago) Permalink

class is culture as much as money. my mom's parents were east coast society snobs from way back, and so my mom was too, though she was just a schoolteacher and married badly. and so i am too, in a distant way, though i have always lived at the edge of poverty. similarly, lots of people attain wealth quickly but remain chavish, rent SUV stretch limos, purchase awful sprawling homes with no character, laugh too loudly at the wrong things and wear bad sandals.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:47 (six years ago) Permalink

i guess i just feel like perceptions of class as culture are part of what contribute to Americans not actually being aware of how class affects their lives. i'm not saying people think of class as about money here; i guess i'm saying that they should.

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:49 (six years ago) Permalink

otm

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:50 (six years ago) Permalink

see, i feel like a lot of Americans do perceive class = money and dance around the cultural signifiers which are a relation to class and the values of various classes. Education is a big one. Consumer goods is another.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:51 (six years ago) Permalink

vis-a-vis people like Sarah Palin and George Bush selling themselves as regular people when they are crazy rich

xxp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:51 (six years ago) Permalink

well yeah - but i see the problem with that as Palin and Bush politically fuck over "regular people" - like if they had politics that actually benefited working people, their public images wouldn't be as nauseating

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:54 (six years ago) Permalink

I've been told by multiple people, including some who know me very well (girlfriend who tried to downplay my class background in conversation) that I don't "seem working class." Which pisses me off on two levels - I take a lot of pride in my background, and I'm offended at the idea that listening to weird music or appearing to be intelligent in some way is a signifier that I didn't grow up helping my dad and grandfather out putting on roofs when I was 10 or that I don't have an irrational fear of money because I remember my parents scrambling for rent almost every month in elementary school.

Class is about money and opportunities (and yes, race).

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 20:54 (six years ago) Permalink

but your attitude about money is cultural.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:55 (six years ago) Permalink

but sarahel, whatever people's attitudes about money some people measurably have more than others!!!

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:55 (six years ago) Permalink

sure they do - but i'm saying that money affects people culturally as well as opposed to just materially.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:57 (six years ago) Permalink

conspicuous consumption is part material wealth as well as cultural attitudes about money

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:57 (six years ago) Permalink

see, i feel like a lot of Americans do perceive class = money and dance around the cultural signifiers which are a relation to class and the values of various classes. Education is a big one. Consumer goods is another.

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:51 PM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark

yeah, kind of...

i guess i'd put it like this: people in the US tend to kneejerk assume their political enemies are of a different class than themselves, either much richer, or poorer, or some unholy alliance of the two

this only really a percetpional battle within the median income bands, where political opinion is really up for grabs. you have to look at region, occupation and education to get a bead on who they vote for/what they believe, drilling down further than just yearly income.

however, the number of liberal billionaires is really small, no matter how much right wingers hate them. and the number of arch-conservative poor people is also small, no matter how much liberals are terrified of them.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 20:59 (six years ago) Permalink

but sarahel, whatever people's attitudes about money some people measurably have more than others!!!

yeah, but that's self-evident and doesn't require further elaboration. what sarah's saying is not so obvious and opens up on some interesting subtleties. even if they carry less weight than the base-level money stuff.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:00 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm talking more about lifestyle and social relationships more than politics -

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:01 (six years ago) Permalink

the number of arch-conservative poor people is also small

what exactly do you mean by "arch-conservative" here, because I feel like you are glossing over a large invisible-to-white-America cross-section of the American minority experience that can't be summed up by "votes Republican"

feel free to answer my Korn Kuestion (HI DERE), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:01 (six years ago) Permalink

the number of arch-conservative poor people is also small, no matter how much liberals are terrified of them.

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 1:59 PM (31 seconds ago) Bookmark

this is somewhat true, but also misleading. the number of not entirely impoverished but lower-income arch conservatives is VAST.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:02 (six years ago) Permalink

contenderizer i think you have it exactly backwards -- the cultural baggage of what we mean when we say e.g. "working class" is all very upfront, while the raw dollar values that underly all these things are occluded and take some digging to see clearly.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:03 (six years ago) Permalink

where and how are they occluded? i think we might just be talking around each other - about different aspects of life.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:04 (six years ago) Permalink

i mean, if you're referring to how "hot button" political issues are more about culture and moral beliefs as opposed to economics, then i totally agree.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:06 (six years ago) Permalink

look, a guy who works in a hard hat and likes country! that's working class! a woman working in an office and bought the new franzen novel, middle class! see, so easy!

i'm saying, no, just, look at what these people are paid for their labor. i think focusing on culture doesn't really open up anything, it's already in the open! it's the $$ that's hidden

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:10 (six years ago) Permalink

some of the cultural stuff is out in the open, but some of it isn't!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:13 (six years ago) Permalink

similarly, lots of people attain wealth quickly but remain chavish

haaa strange to see an american using that term....

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:13 (six years ago) Permalink

i'm saying, no, just, look at what these people are paid for their labor. i think focusing on culture doesn't really open up anything, it's already in the open! it's the $$ that's hidden

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 5:10 PM (3 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

otm

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:14 (six years ago) Permalink

...and that, i think, its what's going on in the song, like i argued upthread. the girl wants to play around with a culture that looks free and fun, and the guy is trying to get her to see that it's the (materially) constrained nature of that life that makes it what it is.

xp to myself

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:15 (six years ago) Permalink

and how much someone gets paid for their labor is only so determinant. How dependent is that person on a particular company, or industry, and what are their working conditions? Like, city bus drivers make pretty good money. But they have to drive a bus, and wear crappy polyester uniforms, and take shit from customers, and let's say they get tired of being a bus driver, what else are they qualified to do? Compare that to a community college professor (who makes about the same amount) - the professor gets an office, gets to more or less wear what they want, they get to be treated with dignity and respect, etc.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:17 (six years ago) Permalink

some of the cultural stuff is out in the open, but some of it isn't!

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 4:13 PM (2 minutes ago)

What are some examples of the stuff that isn't?

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:17 (six years ago) Permalink

let's take milo's example of being worried about money. This seems to be something that is common to people who grew up working class - whereas someone who grew up middle class or higher (barring traumatic event to the family where they had serious problems), has less of a panic about it, because they're used to being comfortable.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:20 (six years ago) Permalink

^^ this actually kinda goes back to the song

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:20 (six years ago) Permalink

yes, that's the "on the surface" shit i'm talking about! bus drivers are more 'low class' than professors. i think in class discussions you have to run the "determinance" the other way -- what does the surfacey class stuff buy you? the bus driver in his shitty uniform and the comm college professor with his office (yeah right, btw), turns out they aren't different

xp

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:21 (six years ago) Permalink

...that has nothing to do with culture! if you grew up working class, you don't have a safety net. if your parents have $$$, you do!

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:22 (six years ago) Permalink

xp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:22 (six years ago) Permalink

sure they are different! the community college professor gets summers off - they could take their family on a long vacation somewhere improving. their work conditions make it easier for them to remain physically healthy. they have education and the trappings of such (e.g. books) to pass down to their children, so they can get a head start on attaining a good class position.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:23 (six years ago) Permalink

that's assuming the parents with $$ are going to give it to you if you need it, horseshoe. and if you've actually experienced poverty or financial struggle, it is highly likely you are going to have a different attitude to it than someone who hasn't!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:25 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'd echo sarah's question. when we say "working class", we typically mean blue collar workers & menial laborers, probably making enough to get by, many living quite comfortably and able retire early, depending on their line of work. then again, many struggling at the very edge of destitution. it's a range.

when we say "middle class" we mean another range: white collar & professional workers who might make less money than well-paid members of the working class, but often make a good deal more, theses blending into small businessmen and entrepreneurs, marx's petit bourgeois.

and our "upper class" are the wealthiest elite, including political & corporate movers and shakers, old money pseudo-aristocrats - basically people who don't have to worry about money, but do anyway.

note that this rather self-evident set of divisions doesn't have anything to do with cultural class. these are simply the wealth-based tears that incubate the cultural class stuff.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:26 (six years ago) Permalink

because what poverty means is not having money!

xp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:26 (six years ago) Permalink

the song doesn't have a lot to do w/ these nonfinancial class signifiers

i'm pretty sure it could be transposed to 2010 america w/ minimal edits

smc = risd?
common ppl = regla folks? workin joes?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:27 (six years ago) Permalink

but the fear of not having money, when you are ok for now, or even comfortably off - the way one lives one's life, the things they value - that are a result of experiencing poverty, are cultural.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:28 (six years ago) Permalink

in the US this would have to be an alt-country song, probably

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:29 (six years ago) Permalink

doesn't the contrived folksiness of those ethnonyms for the ppl just above white trash repulse yr LATTE LIBERALS?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:30 (six years ago) Permalink

that last post to goole. agree that well-paid blue collar workers make as much as or more than bottom-rung middle class professionals. but this equivalence is a mirage, because you're looking only at the point where the classes overlap. at the other end of the working class/middle class intersection, the lives of 50-year-old minimum wage menial laborers trying to support families have almost nothing to do with those of successful small businesspeople and white collar professonals (doctors, lawyers, business administrators, bankers, etc).

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:30 (six years ago) Permalink

looking back, "wealth-based tears" was supposed to be "wealth-based tiers..."

lol

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:31 (six years ago) Permalink

wtf you've come up with a schema that cuts across wealth lines, and then declared it to be "wealth-based tiers"

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:31 (six years ago) Permalink

i mean - cops in big cities make six figure salaries - up there with lawyers - but the lawyer is less likely to get knifed or shot on the job.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:32 (six years ago) Permalink

p.sure the chick is actually greek btw, which is obv v.much u&k

whoa...did I or didn't I? (cozen), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:33 (six years ago) Permalink

no, i've quoted (not really come up with) a common way to understand class divsions in america, one that's primarily wealth-based, but which allows a fair degree of overlap where the tiers meet.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:33 (six years ago) Permalink

the common way is wrong

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:34 (six years ago) Permalink

that's a pretty simplified version of class divisions though

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:34 (six years ago) Permalink

re, sarah: yeah, there's a point at which the income available from blue collar jobs begins to seriously complete with what most white-collar professionals only hope to make. in drawing a distinction between blue and white collar work, i'm kind of hedging with regards to class & culture, because the income division between the two is unclear. but it makes sense for the most part, and given that there just have to be gray areas in a discussion like this, i'm willing to accept the imprecision.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:38 (six years ago) Permalink

i agree that divisions i proposed are reductively simple, but i'm shooting for serviceable shorthand here. alternate suggestions appreciated.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:40 (six years ago) Permalink

why are you doing it tho?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:42 (six years ago) Permalink

OK here's a scenario and then a question.

An American couple. Husband grew up comfortably middle-class, but his parents both grew up during the Depression and have always been obsessed with having "enough" money, and have passed that obsession with money/fear of debt on to the son. The wife grew up really dirt poor, lived in a tar-paper shack until she was six, also to Depression-era parents who worried less about $$$ because they had less interest in what money could buy. The man and the wife meet, marry, and instantly accumulate $25K in credit card debt. The wife's blithe attitude is that you're never broke as long as you still have some Available Balance left; the husband is terrified every day that his life is about to cave in. The husband assumes control of the family finances and spends the next ten years whittling $25K in debt down to zero.

Who has lived a life with more financial struggle, the husband or the wife?

Donovan Dagnabbit (WmC), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:42 (six years ago) Permalink

why are you doing it tho?

umm, because the question had been raised, it interested me, and i was trying to have a conversation about it. wtf?

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:45 (six years ago) Permalink

Who has lived a life with more financial struggle, the husband or the wife?

can't really answer the question. but you've posed it in such a way as to suggest that the answer = the husband.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:47 (six years ago) Permalink

the differences between (some fom of) middle class and working class are complex but given enough exposition you'd probably agree w/ any given poster which group [random person] fell into

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:50 (six years ago) Permalink

regardless of whether you're making the distinctions solely on material wealth, you kinda have this:

super rich - inherited wealth or investments will prevent them from being poor for the rest of their lives
rich - wealth is dependent on a certain amount of earned income
upper middle class - quite comfortably off, can generally afford to pay for a child to attend a private college (their kids tend to go to these, or else a well-regarded state school - they pay attention to college rankings)
middle class - comfortable, can generally afford to pay for a child to attend a 4 year state university - want their kids to get a quality education but in something reasonable so they can get a job and support themselves
working class - their ability to maintain living standards above the poverty level is contingent on a lot of things, they don't want to be poor or for their kids to be poor
poverty - barely subsisting, may not be on government assistance (which if they're not, they might really resent those who are)

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:50 (six years ago) Permalink

disagree w/ x-post. again, this comes from concentrating only on the point at which working and middle class begin to meet and overlap. the lives and cultures of the working (very) poor and the comfortably (not quite super) wealthy have very little in common.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:53 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah, i'd echo sarah's question. when we say "working class", we typically mean blue collar workers & menial laborers, probably making enough to get by, many living quite comfortably and able retire early

wait what

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 21:53 (six years ago) Permalink

the differences in england largely relate to a more dissimulated vocabulary (eg you'll seldom hear the term umc) and more anxiety about belonging

the basic schema outlined by sarah and contenderizer applies to all advanced capitalist economies

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:55 (six years ago) Permalink

difficult to talk in exclusion about cultural aspects without lapsing into narcissism of small differences

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:56 (six years ago) Permalink

see, that's where it gets tricky - because (an ever decreasing number, but there are still some) blue collar workers and people in related professions (fire fighters, cops) do have comfortable salaries and pensions - so in some ways they are middle class, but can sometimes have working class lifestyles/attitudes

i think it's complicated

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:57 (six years ago) Permalink

disagree w/ x-post. again, this comes from concentrating only on the point at which working and middle class begin to meet and overlap. the lives and cultures of the working (very) poor and the comfortably (not quite super) wealthy have very little in common.

― having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:53 (3 minutes ago)

that's exactly what i'm saying, like in the case of a 50 y/o cop w/ a permanent desk job, 10% more than median salary, maybe you'll get contrasting answers

90% of the time it's fairly clear cut tho

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 21:59 (six years ago) Permalink

here's another example for the class = money only side. What about drug dealers/growers? Let's say you have a modest operation and net $150,000/yr operating a meth lab ... are you of the same class as a computer programmer making the same salary?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:00 (six years ago) Permalink

and kind of disagree w sarah's more nuanced breakdown. only cuz it seems to cap "middle class" far too low - this is what leads to the idea that the middle and working classes are functionally identical, share common interests.

i'd argue that really only the super rich are "upper class", like landed gentry, living lives entirely separate from those of the "lower classes." i.e., the owners of large corporations and/or family fortunes, the very wealthiest of celebrities and investment bankers, etc. people who measure their annual income in the millions. less than that, you're probably middle class, though perhaps "upper middle class", as they say. and if you make substantially less than six figures, you're not probably not middle class at all, not even "lower middle class", regardless of your profession. you're working class, though that doesn't necessarily mean poor.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:02 (six years ago) Permalink

middle vs. upper middle is a vast swamp filled with the narcissism of small differences

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:03 (six years ago) Permalink

are you of the same class as a computer programmer making the same salary?

well, it depends, right? it depends not only on where the drug dealer and computer programmer are at, culturally (the dealer might be the black sheep of a rich family, and the computer programmer the child of migrant workers), but on who's doing the evaluation. class isn't fixed and is judged differently by different cultural groups.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:04 (six years ago) Permalink

here's another example for the class = money only side. What about drug dealers/growers? Let's say you have a modest operation and net $150,000/yr operating a meth lab ... are you of the same class as a computer programmer making the same salary?

― sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:00 (2 minutes ago)

crims are all lumpens or some description right? but obv they wouldn't qualify as bourgie cuz their livelihood is perilous

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:05 (six years ago) Permalink

let's say that both meth lab operator and computer programmer come from working class families: dad is the assistant manager at a Home Depot and mom does daycare.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:06 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah but his mom is of rurikid extraction and dad got fired from tenured professorship cuz of molestation conviction

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:11 (six years ago) Permalink

For US posters.....
Alongside the posh V common thing, it's important to remember that Cocker is from Sheffield - which gives a different weight to the setting 'St. Martin's College' (many English people mightn't know where it is, but for those who do, it is quintessentially metropolitan, and for those not from London, it's very 'London') - the singer is clearly Northern (accent would be immediately apparent to British listeners) so St. Martin's is not his home turf either.

― sonofstan, Friday, September 3, 2010 5:29 PM (4 hours ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

would it be similar to say - someone from the midwest going to NYC?

― sarahel, Friday, September 3, 2010 5:30 PM (4 hours ago) Bookmark

Not that similar, i don't think, tho' I know the North of England far better than I know the Midwest: but it does indicate how difficult it is to translate the specifics of this from one country to another.

For a start, 'the North' is very urbanised,(post-) industrial, and traditionally left- wing politically - in a way England sort of reverses the Red/ Blue thing, and not just because 'Red' stands for Left and 'Blue' for right over here. London itself is mixed, but the rest of the richer South of England is generally solidly Tory, whereas the traditionally poorer and more industrial north is pretty solidly Labour. Northerners don't hate London the way those in the flyover states hate New York - they don't hate it for being God-less and liberal and the like, they hate it for being pretentious and full of capitalist parasites. Someone from Sheffield wouldn't be intimidated by London, but there would be infinite grounds for annoyance.

sonofstan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:11 (six years ago) Permalink

sarah's question:

gonna go with nakhchivan's initial response on this, cuz criminals are kind of a different class, separate unto themselves, but socially equivalent to the very poor.

computer programmer is probably comfortably middle class, but again, that depends on how he (i'm pretending he's a he) lives his life. if he lives in a run-down shack with a pit bull tied to a dead tree in a yard full of rusted out beaters, spends his money on sleazy women & bad drugs, plays in a heavy metal cover band at night and is covered in prison tattoos, then some blue-blood would likely label him as irredeemably low. but hey, his money's still good...

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:12 (six years ago) Permalink

imagine that jarvis comes from a family of meth cookers in the north, whereas this greek tart has inherited a computer programming dynasty.

like a musical album. made by a band. (fucking in the streets), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:13 (six years ago) Permalink

Contenderizer, that part of your life described upthread recalls the plot of Metropolitan.

Goole has the best grasp of the song's background - it is the continuation of the concept of 'a cheap holiday in someone else's misery'. For those of you who may be interested in specifics, the Greek girl Jarvis refers to in the song is called Sophia (meaning: knowledge/wisdom, LOL) and is from a very wealthy/highbrow family of exiled Communists who live in one of the most beautiful streets in Rome. Her brother - who is now a town planner - was best friends with Nick Momus when both were students at Aberdeen (this, and discussion with Jarvis a few years back, is how I happen to know).

Jarvis grew up in a single-parent household when divorce was still stigmatized - his mum - a mod who is now a Tory councillor LOL - had gone to art college herself, but they had no money, were poor compared to most people in their part of Sheffield. He describes the conundrum of being 'the educated poor' all the time. Plus he has the Northern thing of suspecting that anyone Southern is most likely spoilt or pretentious until proven otherwise. One thing that no working to lower-middle class person from that time and place would be expecting to see in London is LARGE NUMBERS of amazingly stonking rich jet trash expats instead of one or two. Having said that, Jarvis went to St Martins with his best friend because both were accepted on the film MA in 1988 and lived in a shithole in Peckham, students were still just about living on grants and not paying fees, and people were bothered by classmates who got massive handouts from their parents (which is why some rich kids would try to hide it). Continental Europeans don't hide it in the same way.

maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:14 (six years ago) Permalink

Great topic. I haven't read through all the responses yet, so apologies if any of this is redundant or dumb or whatever, but I just love these lyrics and his delivery and how explicitly the lyric addresses class. I don't think I've listened to another Pulp song 1/1000th as much as this one.

"Pretend you got no money" / "You're so funny" is a great couplet. I can see him kinda leaning in to her ear as they are holding hands in the aisle and I can see her just vacantly looking at the stuff on the shelves and ignoring people.

"you'll never fail like common people / you'll never watch your life slide out of view" -- Oh man, these lines just kill me -- you've never seen your parents worry about how to provide the best they can for you or had to work or racked up a monster student loan for what you want to learn or attended a less than stellar school or even just had a care in the world and you still feel entitled to...more.

My wife and I had this conversation with an Art Institute of Chicago student from Manhattan that I remember every time I hear this song. It was infuriating. I still get pissed off thinking about it ten years later. Nothing was *enough* for her and she truly believed the world was her playground and that she deserved whatever/whenever. No sense of...reality -- or such a twisted one as to be unrecognizable to 99.99% of people who've ever lived. While the character in the song just seems oblivious, though (or maybe not), this girl seemed willfully ignorant and narcissistic.

Back to the song, I'm not sure his class is particularly relevant. It's her perspective on his class that matters.

john. a resident of chicago., Friday, 3 September 2010 22:15 (six years ago) Permalink

the only consideration is financial - the likelihood of arrest/confiscation/explosion is significant

if yr meth cook has a secure income (safe lab and effective immunity from prosecution) then perhaps they can be considered as analogous

doesn't the fact that you have to create these baroque contrivances show that irl these things are usually fairly clear cut?

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:16 (six years ago) Permalink

jarvis got into st martins by telling the admissions officer that if he didn't he'd have to resort to a life of prostitution, iirc.

like a musical album. made by a band. (fucking in the streets), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:16 (six years ago) Permalink

many xp - I instinctively disagree with the idea that cops are "working class" (or related) FWIW. It's a professional government job with middle-class pay and good benefits.

A job which has, existed in large part to protect the other classes from the working class.

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:17 (six years ago) Permalink

if you make substantially less than six figures, you're not probably not middle class at all, not even "lower middle class", regardless of your profession. you're working class, though that doesn't necessarily mean poor.

It's hard to port these things trans-Atlantically but as an academic in the UK, earning six figures in Dollars is where you can hope to be at the very end of a very successful career. However, calling academics "working class" throws out almost the entire set of attitudes and experiences that are taken to be signifiers determining or at least correlating with class in standard discourse. It's kind of the opposite of sarahel's drug dealer example.

seandalai, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:17 (six years ago) Permalink

Which is why splitting hairs based on "well, this hypothetical construction worker man makes X but this female office worker makes less -Y-, then..." is all sort of irrelevant to me.

It's about money and opportunity to me. If you're stuck as an administrative assistant who's never going to make more than a living wage, if that, then you get to join me When The Revolution Comes. If you're ostensibly blue collar but exist primarily to order migrant workers to do work, up against the wall motherfucker.

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:20 (six years ago) Permalink

i only created this baroque contrivance, because things aren't clear cut - like goole and horseshoe are arguing that the metaphorical bus driver and the community college prof are of the same class because they make the same money, and i disagree - the community college prof is of a higher class because of additional cultural capital, or at least, better working conditions and a higher status job

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:20 (six years ago) Permalink

and if you make substantially less than six figures, you're not probably not middle class at all, not even "lower middle class", regardless of your profession. you're working class, though that doesn't necessarily mean poor.

this is straight up insane.

The median household income in the US is well below six figures - and the curve falls off rapidly as you approach six figures.

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:21 (six years ago) Permalink

milo otm

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:22 (six years ago) Permalink

Yep - one crucial factor in the case of high-status low-income professions is that most people in those jobs *choose* to do them instead of something better paid.

seandalai, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:24 (six years ago) Permalink

using dollar amounts is pretty useless when making generalizations about class in America (except at the top and bottom ends) - $30k/yr is way different if you live in NYC, SF, maybe Seattle? - than say Memphis, Baltimore, or Kansas City

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:25 (six years ago) Permalink

doesn't the fact that you have to create these baroque contrivances show that irl these things are usually fairly clear cut?

― nakhchivan, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:16 PM (6 minutes ago) Bookmark

no. i agree with sarah here, though i don't think the drug dealer/computer programmer example works well. class is not a single thing, the product of income and that's that. class is a word we use to talk about a wide range of things that relate to wealth and social prestige, and though the lines can be made to seem fairly clear-cut when look at from on high, down in the muck of actual human social interaction, the gray areas are huge.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:27 (six years ago) Permalink

anyway, the designations here in the U.S. are way more arbitrary and fluid and debatable than it seems they are in the UK

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:28 (six years ago) Permalink

The median household income in the US is well below six figures - and the curve falls off rapidly as you approach six figures.

― a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, September 3, 2010 3:21 PM (5 minutes ago) Bookmark

yeah. making median income doesn't make one middle class. that's an entirely different evaluation system. in most economies, making median income makes one a well-paid member of the working class. working class = most people. middle class = the not inconsiderable number who've begun to break away from working for a living. upper class = ur overloards.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:29 (six years ago) Permalink

middle class = the not inconsiderable number who've begun to break away from working for a living

huh?

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:30 (six years ago) Permalink

Median household income in SF is only $10-15k more than the rest of the country, IIRC. So it's a little different - but even in those places where costs are very high, you don't need six figures to make you working class by any stretch.

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:31 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah. making median income doesn't make one middle class.

yes it does.

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:32 (six years ago) Permalink

srsly there is no utility to any of these designations if that doesn't hold

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:32 (six years ago) Permalink

all i know is i meet a lot of people who move to the bay area from other places, and they look at how much rents are for rooms in shared apartments and shake their heads, trying to stifle moral indignation, and say, "what? i could rent an entire house with a yard for that back in (where they came from)"

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:33 (six years ago) Permalink

the first part of your sentence explains the second

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:34 (six years ago) Permalink

though the lines can be made to seem fairly clear-cut when look at from on high, down in the muck of actual human social interaction, the gray areas are huge.

― having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 23:27 (1 minute ago)

sure but as i said...

the differences between (some fom of) middle class and working class are complex but given enough exposition you'd probably agree w/ any given poster which group [random person] fell into

― nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:50 (38 minutes ago)

clearly only an extremely reductive materialism equates an inidigent country curate w/ a similarly starving peasant

the grey areas become huge when you get into the upper reaches (often narcissism of sd), the basic middle/working class dichotomy is seldom that cloudy

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:34 (six years ago) Permalink

Totes true - that's why I don't live there now. Even if I could make what I make now, I couldn't afford a studio in the Tenderloin. An SRO maybe, but I have some small measure of pride left.

OTOH, in San Francisco I wouldn't need or want my truck, which saves me $427/month in insurance/loan (all my gas goes through work, thankfully, since I drive my own vehicle) - minus $50 or whatever it is for a MUNI monthly pass.

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:35 (six years ago) Permalink

Coackroaches can be a thing of the past with the right bug spray (which can be purchased at an affordable price) iirc.

"Duck Hunt" - The Musical (King Boy Pato), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:36 (six years ago) Permalink

middle class = the not inconsiderable number who've begun to break away from working for a living.

lol whut?

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:37 (six years ago) Permalink

The only way I could see 'median income' not equalling 'middle class' is if it didn't provide some measure of opportunity just based on how much you make. Which may be close to happening, but AFAICT children of parents making $50-60k/year in middle America still have a good shot at going to a public school and grinding away at a miserable job for the rest of their lives in the hopes that THEIR kids can climb another quarter-rung up the class ladder

a cross between lily allen and fetal alcohol syndrome (milo z), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:37 (six years ago) Permalink

well yeah - i'm trying to figure out where contenderizer is coming from with that six figures comment - like, there is a significant disparity between the cost of living in different regions of the U.S.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:37 (six years ago) Permalink

middle class = the not inconsiderable number who've begun to break away from working for a living.

lol whut?

― i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, September 3, 2010 3:37 PM (20 seconds ago)

i lol whutted that earlier - lol! The only reason my middle class parents are beginning to break away from working for a living is because they're a year away from retirement age.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:38 (six years ago) Permalink

working class people who are terminally ill can be said to be "breaking away from working for a living" -- these are among our elites, arguably

goole, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:39 (six years ago) Permalink

haha

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:40 (six years ago) Permalink

i think there are a lot of rap songs about "breaking away from working for a living" - i don't think the rappers are middle class though

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:41 (six years ago) Permalink

think contenderizer may be trying to make middle class mean bourgeois, as in ownership of the means of production... these phrases are all p stupid and very approximate, but no-one else thinks of middle-class as meaning 'earns six figs, doesn't work for a living', and given the necessary intersubjectivity involved in linguistic acts... think contenderizer is off the money.

british class system-wise, jarvis doesn't bring up 'people on benefits' as part of the common people.

i am legernd (history mayne), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:41 (six years ago) Permalink

lsn peep dis i got more money than alla y'all but y'all don't see me spendin' them ends on somethin phat and swizzy and uploading jpgs of it for everyone to get jealous of rite?

fuk u all and ur class shit.

spidermark, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:41 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah - i think he's trying to emulate the bourgeois, petit bourgeois, prole taxonomy

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:42 (six years ago) Permalink

there is no utility to any of these designations if that doesn't hold

― horseshoe, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:32 PM (4 minutes ago) Bookmark

sure there is. if you wanna say "making median income", then just say that. we often use "middle class" in political rhetoric to talk about some imaginary "average american", but i think that's a lousy way to conceptualize it. i equate the middle class to marx's petit bourgeois, those who exist alongside the working classes but have begun to assume a quasi-upper-class relationship to personal wealth. business owners and wealthy professionals in marx's eyes, but he was overly attached to the idea of ownership, imo. the owner of a very small business is much more working class than an investment banker making high six figures.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:43 (six years ago) Permalink

i.e., yes, what i'm doing is exactly what others say - importing marxist taxonomy.

but i'm also trying to insist that far, far more americans are really "working class" than many people think. there are well-to-do working class people and desperately poor working class people, and i'd argue that the vast majority of americans fall into this spectrum somewhere.

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:45 (six years ago) Permalink

This might be a bit flippant but maybe it explains the failure of communication here between US and UK: People in Britain understand class, and class relations, in their guts, the way Americans do race - its the open wound that needs to be kept open if you are to understand how stuff 'really' works. Whereas British people tend to be quite literal and guileless about race, the way Americans are about class.

sonofstan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:45 (six years ago) Permalink

lsn peep dis i got more money than alla y'all but y'all don't see me spendin' them ends on somethin phat and swizzy and uploading jpgs of it for everyone to get jealous of rite?

fuk u all and ur class shit.

― spidermark, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:41 PM (3 minutes ago)

A+++++

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:46 (six years ago) Permalink

this confusion occurs cuz in american political rhetoric 'middle class' does usually mean something like median income

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:47 (six years ago) Permalink

'the middle class' especially, literally those in the normal income distribution range, no marxist connotations no siree

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:48 (six years ago) Permalink

median is just 50th percentile though - someone can be making the median national income in the US but living in NYC or SF and not enjoy the comfortable lifestyle of the middle class

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:48 (six years ago) Permalink

if we say regional median, then yeah

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:49 (six years ago) Permalink

i think the "middle class" = average american = "YOU, dear voter" rhetorical equation is lame and should be done away with

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:50 (six years ago) Permalink

in America none of us are average, we are all special snowflakes

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:51 (six years ago) Permalink

is cntndrzr doing that thing where he makes up new definitions to suit his arg?

call all destroyer, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:51 (six years ago) Permalink

he's using definitions that aren't the most relevant or appropriate to the discussion, but this one he got from Marx

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:52 (six years ago) Permalink

okay, so maybe my terms are weird, but the middle = median = you thing just creates bogus high/low tension between the "lower" & blue-collar "working class" and the white-collar but still working & job-dependent "middle"

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:53 (six years ago) Permalink

proposal

poor
working/middle class
rich

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 22:54 (six years ago) Permalink

nobody disagrees with you about the bogus invocation of "middle class" by American politicians, i don't think

xp

horseshoe, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:55 (six years ago) Permalink

it's just kind of irritating when working class people perceive themselves as that "middle class" voter and end up voting against their best economic interests because of weird class aspirations, and it's also irritating when people who grew up middle class are in denial about it - either positing that they are higher or lower than what they are.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:56 (six years ago) Permalink

I don't think that's a very common problem in america? pretty much everyone who isn't bill gates or homeless claims to be middle class.

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 22:58 (six years ago) Permalink

it's just kind of irritating when working class people perceive themselves as that "middle class" voter and end up voting against their best economic interests because of weird class aspirations

unpack?

cuz i think self-identified "working class" voters tend to vote against their best interests due more to religious pressure than due to class aspirations...

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 23:00 (six years ago) Permalink

I think a lot of working class people believe that the american federal income tax system overburdens them - but that's partly because we have a country where anyone who has to pay any tax ever believes that they're overtaxed.

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:02 (six years ago) Permalink

i think i'm still caught up in this argument i was having with some friends about why California has gone to shit, and how the biggest problem is because of Prop 13 - and working class people voting for it, and the result is that tuition at state colleges - where they used to be able to afford to send their kids to college - is now often out of reach.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:03 (six years ago) Permalink

what were they arguing?

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:03 (six years ago) Permalink

they just weren't aware of the impact of Prop 13

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:04 (six years ago) Permalink

but how as their opposition to prop 13 a product of class aspiration? you mean they just wanted to keep more of their hard-earned so that they might ascend?

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 23:06 (six years ago) Permalink

home-ownership is an huge part of class aspiration

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:06 (six years ago) Permalink

This might be a bit flippant but maybe it explains the failure of communication here between US and UK: People in Britain understand class, and class relations, in their guts, the way Americans do race - its the open wound that needs to be kept open if you are to understand how stuff 'really' works. Whereas British people tend to be quite literal and guileless about race, the way Americans are about class.

― sonofstan, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:45 (Yesterday)

this is well put, though the affective component can be understood

the essex office worker from a wc background is obviously lower middle class, but unless they become wealthy enough that any pretence of proletarian bona fides is rendered absurd, they and their neighbours will persist w/ saying they're working class

nakhchivan, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:07 (six years ago) Permalink

but wanting to cut yr property taxes seems more like short-sighted self interest blinding itself to long term consequences - not class aspiration as such

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 23:07 (six years ago) Permalink

they were in denial about the fact that the cuts to state services - esp. in the form of low tuition at state schools - would have the greatest negative effect on them, as opposed to middle class or upper middle class people, who might struggle a bit to pay, but ultimately can.

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:08 (six years ago) Permalink

but also what iatee said about home ownership

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:09 (six years ago) Permalink

the wealthiest americans are the best at short-sightened self-interest blinding itself to long term consequences - so the lower classes just want to practice by voting for stupid propositions.

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:09 (six years ago) Permalink

god Californians vote for stupid propositions - it often makes me embarrassed of where i'm from

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:10 (six years ago) Permalink

I think people in most states would be voting for stupid propositions if they had the ability

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:11 (six years ago) Permalink

good luck USA!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:12 (six years ago) Permalink

we are no switzerland

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:12 (six years ago) Permalink

oh wait switzerland is horrible and racist now too

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:12 (six years ago) Permalink

seriously though, when Minnesota elected Jesse Ventura, it did make me feel less embarrassed about Schwarzenegger - and the whole country voted for Reagan for President

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:13 (six years ago) Permalink

i get it. you mean they attempted to adopt the blitheness of more wealthy people wr2 the need for well-funded social services, and they did this as a product of their own class aspirations, their sense that they shouldn't have to worry about such things.

makes sense, especially to the extent that conservatives whip up anger among the less well-to-do working classes against the poor (when they actually share a great many interests in common)

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 23:15 (six years ago) Permalink

makes sense, especially to the extent that conservatives whip up anger among the less well-to-do working classes against the poor (when they actually share a great many interests in common)

ding ding ding!

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:16 (six years ago) Permalink

This is the part where I point out that Jesse Ventura was the mayor of a large suburb before running for state office, so the comparison with Arnie isn't quite level.

maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Friday, 3 September 2010 23:23 (six years ago) Permalink

and a Californian might point out that Jesse was pwned by the Predator and Arnie kicked his ass

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:25 (six years ago) Permalink

at least arnold's not a ron paul fan

iatee, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:28 (six years ago) Permalink

maybe suzy should tell us more about Jarvis

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:29 (six years ago) Permalink

i.e. we're way off topic right now

sarahel, Friday, 3 September 2010 23:30 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah, i liked that part

xpost

having taken an actual journalism class (contenderizer), Friday, 3 September 2010 23:31 (six years ago) Permalink

I did not vote for Jesse Ventura but I did like the 'thinker' ad very much.

The first time I heard this song was the first time Pulp ever played it live (I went to see most of their London shows, and saw the final one in Rotherham). I actually read the whole thread to make sure nobody had posted about Sophia - Wiki says it's another woman who's Cypriot, but I'm not certain they're right, because S. is really Greek, really a sculpture grad, and knew Jarvis. It still brings me LOLs that after this song, Jarv basically had a case of Lucky Jim syndrome and dumped his long-term partner for a very posh fashion person.

maintenant avec plus de fromage (suzy), Friday, 3 September 2010 23:48 (six years ago) Permalink

I thought goole's reading was the obvious and OTM way of interpreting the lyrics, wasn't aware that there were other ways to read the song. this thread is really confusing.

shorn_blond.avi (dayo), Saturday, 4 September 2010 07:02 (six years ago) Permalink

Sometimes when I'm unpacking the boxes I feel bad for the theoretical co-worker that doesn't have an earner as a spouse or parents to pay for the dental work. then I look around and it's just me and her, and it's all good. those theoretical guys work at different locations.

I hurt for them.

DON'T YOU SEE THE WALR (Zachary Taylor), Saturday, 4 September 2010 08:44 (six years ago) Permalink

damn. Ignore me. This is a fascinating discussion about music and class. Lurking threads like this is among the things that's brought me to this site.

I don't have a good posting style or discussion technique. I like this song. The first time I saw the video, it stuck with me and I hunted down the cd. It's one of the pop highlights of that decade. I don't really require anymore depth or meaning out of it than I would from other British pop hits of the past, "Play With Fire", "Substitute", "Remote Control", "If You Wanna Be My Lover" .

The whole slumming, and resentment of it, aspect of the lyrics trigger all sorts of anger and memories from my own life, but they are American ideas rooted in self-pity or shame.

It's a nice rant, and fuck those people who are like that.

DON'T YOU SEE THE WALR (Zachary Taylor), Saturday, 4 September 2010 09:05 (six years ago) Permalink

contenderizer i think you have it exactly backwards -- .

― goole, Friday, September 3, 2010 4:03 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark

c+ping this for later

the embrace of waka flocka is v pertinent (deej), Saturday, 4 September 2010 10:06 (six years ago) Permalink

so it seemed a lot of the song's defenders actually agree that the narrator is pretty dislikeable? that's still the most major problem i have with the song, he doesn't actually succeed in portraying the greek girl as an unsympathetic character (when surely it wouldn't have been hard to do this), so the vitriolic rant seems bitter and baseless.

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Saturday, 4 September 2010 10:53 (six years ago) Permalink

I didn't really "get" how good this song was until it was recontextualised by Bill Shatner.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRPa0GhxGUs&feature=related

village idiot (dog latin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:00 (six years ago) Permalink

class in the UK is a holdover of a bygone era these days. plumbers can make twice as much as a university lecturer, but the former would still say they're working class and the latter would say they were middle class

Even in the bygone era it was never purely abt money -- plenty of broke toffs back in the day. The link between money and class is, I think, also related to how you spend it rather than how much you have. Know builders who drop £1000 on a chihuahua and toffs who drive the same car fr 20 years.

OK it's hard to still *say* you're working class if you're making sums wildly outside the norm and parking yr Rolls outside yr 2up/dwn, but with the whole WAG thing it feels like people are just shooting for an offshoot of working class: that Posh/Becks setup of more money than God but still having HP sauce on the table.

Wonder how Common People wld go aimed at that sort -- hard to slum when you're already buying pot noodles, only from Waitrose.

stet, Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:03 (six years ago) Permalink

he doesn't actually succeed in portraying the greek girl as an unsympathetic character

totally hadn't got this until you pointed it out in the other thread (and Kate smthg similar upthread). Is a really gd point that if you're not already all righteously bristly just at the setup he doesn't go very far to persuade you that she's a terrible person. The funniest rants can be levelled at the least deserving, all the same.

stet, Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:05 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah the fact that the greek girl seems like a perfectly fine person makes the song more...ripe for discussion, i guess (a quality that's often confused with a song being good), but

t if you're not already all righteously bristly just at the setup

^^is why so many people i've known appreciate the song. "slumming it" takes many forms, not all of them bad, so just the fact of the set-up isn't remotely offensive; to find it so is on a par with the still-prevalent kneejerk posh-hatred i see so often (most often from people who are SOLIDLY MIDDLE CLASS who seem to be totally unaware of their own privilege, maybe because they're so aware that they could never actually pass for someone genuinely posh)

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:13 (six years ago) Permalink

Wonder if that kneejerkery was more prevalent during that horrible britpop era when everyone wanted to be a laaad. Jarvis could just go "posh lass wants to be common" and it was a signifier for the whole setup.

stet, Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:19 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah, i think that misreading was touched on in the other thread, i think the song was seen as an anthem for "common people" against poshos. which is obv wrong - also, as i think k8 said upthread, the song's unpleasant stereotypes go in the other direction as well - the narrator's attitude to working class life is reductive and superior; he doesn't just make the fair point that being poor is a bit shit and shouldn't be fetishised, there's a contempt there for his fellow working class people who actually seem content with their lives, and the judgmentalism of assuming that people who love to dance and drink and screw can't possibly have anything else worthwhile in their lives.

(one of my least fav things is the straight white man who makes a huge deal out of how hard life was/is because he's a bit "different", who loves to revel in being a "misfit" and even an "outcast" without actually knowing anything about the sorts of differences that go beyond, like, one's taste in clothes.)

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:24 (six years ago) Permalink

BACK X-POSTS GALORE IN TEH TIME IT'S TAKEN ME TO WRITE THIS OUT

OK, so this thread has gone through 200 posts of "America: does it have a class system?" I guess and I'm not going to go back and read that until some day I'm really really bored at work.

Going back to the song for a minute, and again, my discomfort with it. And part of that is (as I've repeatedly said) how his anger (although it might be righteous) is completely displaced by being applied towards this (somewhat clueless) posh girl.

First part of that is, you're not getting angry at the person you are actually angry at - or (thinking back to that shallow pedantic thread) are you getting angry at someone who can do something about the situation? How would the song - how would his *reaction* be different if her were speaking to, say, her *father* - would he be quite so willing to get so angry, eh, big man, if he was picking on someone his own size? What if the gender roles in the song were reversed? If it were her wealthy brother coming and trying to pull a poor but arty *girl* wouldn't this be painted as some kind of fairy tale happy ending where he's somehow noble for choosing the poor girl? (You know, like archetypical romance stories for the past 2000 years or so?)

Second is this idea of *tourism*. And this is where I leave the song a bit behind, but actually get into "how does this play out IRL?" How do you teach social justice issues to the very wealthy, or, as in this case, the children of the very wealthy? (this has not been an entirely academic issue for me.) There's this anger at a posh girl "slumming it" - but what do you do in cases where there is an actual genuine sense of trying to learn, even in a clumsy and clueless way? That's the difference, for me, between this song and something like Holiday In Cambodia, that the girl in this song seems like even if she doesn't comprehend (the "ha ha you're so funny" line) she seems willing enough to learn that she went to the supermarket with him in the first place. And yet she's exposed to mockery and laughter - is that really the best way to teach or change someone?

Again, this is where I veer away from the song to personal experiences, but that "open wound" analogy seems apt. Like, they have so much invested in their hatred and blame they don't want to change the existing systems, they just want someone to vent their anger at. (Thinking of parallels of women who have gone over to the Dark Side of feminism, and have actually started hating men, they have no interest in the "patriarchy hurts men, too" arguments because they have this worldview that *requires* men to be evil.) It's much easier to hate someone for "slumming it" than it is to try to change their minds or their worldviews and send them back to daddy's mansion with a real understanding and real chance to change something. I'm not saying "oh noes, won't someone think about the poor heiresses!" because several of the heiresses I've known have been pretty annoying people - though not *all* of them - there are people in that position who are "holy shit, I have a brain and a vague sense of social justice, but what the *fuck* can I do and how the fuck am I going to learn to do something about it?" It seems to be a better idea to try to get those kinds of people (and they do exist) on side in a meaningful way than it is to sneer at them and mock them until they go away.

But you know, sneering makes for the "funnier" song, I guess. But that doesn't mean I have to like that song.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:24 (six years ago) Permalink

She isn't a fine person. She's lumped Jarvis in with the 'common people', thereby dismissing all his personal signifiers in having got away from there. She's denying his individuality, treating him as a cipher of something that's painful to him and just a whim to her.

He's also aware of the fact that he's moved away from the lumpen common people, so he's trying to recreate them but getting it quite right either because his image is bound up with his own resentment of them - being bitten without being warned, for example. But the killer is that if it goes wrong they're all he's got to go back to, while she has her assurance and her money and her dad and his contacts - the very things that keep him out of the upper classes and mean he's got to identify with the common people, because however much he dislikes them they're all he's got.

Ismael Klata, Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:29 (six years ago) Permalink

See Arctic Monkeys' 'A Certain Romance' for a more affectionate take on essentially the same idea.

Ismael Klata, Saturday, 4 September 2010 11:31 (six years ago) Permalink

Ismael OTM. Point of divergence here seems to be that Karen and Lex see nothing wrong in the Greek girl's condescending attitude and unthinking privilege. If you think she sounds lovely, then no wonder you don't appreciate the song's rage but I think you may be in the minority there.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:12 (six years ago) Permalink

How would the song - how would his *reaction* be different if her were speaking to, say, her *father* - would he be quite so willing to get so angry, eh, big man, if he was picking on someone his own size?

This has an underlying assumption that women can't stick up for themselves, which I'm not very happy about.

If it were her wealthy brother coming and trying to pull a poor but arty *girl* wouldn't this be painted as some kind of fairy tale happy ending where he's somehow noble for choosing the poor girl?

No. No, it wouldn't.

emil.y, Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:14 (six years ago) Permalink

(one of my least fav things is the straight white man who makes a huge deal out of how hard life was/is because he's a bit "different", who loves to revel in being a "misfit" and even an "outcast" without actually knowing anything about the sorts of differences that go beyond, like, one's taste in clothes.)

You don't understand the pressures of being a straight white man!!

gr8080 State (King Boy Pato), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:16 (six years ago) Permalink

Also, A Certain Romance is a great point of comparison because Alex Turner, unlike Jarvis or Morrissey, has a diverse range of friends and sees a certain kind of working-class misbehaviour in a more sympathetic light as a result - he's not an outcast, he's on the fringes, moving between cliques, critical but not damning. His real finger-pointing venom (on Fake Tales) is reserved for indie-scene poseurs. I'd forgotten how beautifully nuanced and candid A Certain Romance was.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:17 (six years ago) Permalink

Turner, like Mike Skinner, has that "I am a camera" approach where he's both observer and participant, largely withholding judgement. They have none of the rage of Jarvis or Morrissey, which might be as much down to generation as personality.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:22 (six years ago) Permalink

which might be as much down to generation as personality.

It's 99% about coming from a different generation if you ask me

Tom A. (Tom B.) (Tom C.) (Tom D.), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:24 (six years ago) Permalink

Was going to say, Jarvis's age is pretty important here, I assume he was born the early-to-mid 60s and so grew up in the 70s, so to speak

Tom A. (Tom B.) (Tom C.) (Tom D.), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:27 (six years ago) Permalink

so it seemed a lot of the song's defenders actually agree that the narrator is pretty dislikeable? that's still the most major problem i have with the song, he doesn't actually succeed in portraying the greek girl as an unsympathetic character (when surely it wouldn't have been hard to do this), so the vitriolic rant seems bitter and baseless.

the narrator alleges that his target has said, in conversation with him, "I want to live like common people; I want to do whatever common people do." if we take him at his word that she said this, then actually yes, she has said something that makes her quite unsympathetic to me anyway, fuck people who say shit like they. they must be yelled at in song.

(one of my least fav things is the straight white man who makes a huge deal out of how hard life was/is because he's a bit "different", who loves to revel in being a "misfit" and even an "outcast" without actually knowing anything about the sorts of differences that go beyond, like, one's taste in clothes.)

underrated randy newman jam:

I'm different and I don't care who knows it
Somethin' about me
It's not the same yeah
I'm different and that's how it goes
Ain't gonna play your goddamn game

Got a different way of walkin'
I got a different kind of smile
I got a different way of talkin'
Drives the women kind of wild
Kind of wild

(choir: He's different)
And I don't care who knows it
(choir: Somethin' about him)
It's not the same
(choir:He's different)
And that's how it goes
(choir: And he's not gonna play your gosh darn game)

I ain't sayin' I'm better than you are
But maybe I am
I only know that when I look in the mirror
I like the man
(choir: We like the man)

I'm different and I don't care who knows it
Somethin' about me
Not the same
I'm different and that's how it goes
Ain't gonna play your goddamn game

When I walk down the street in the mornin'
Blue birds are singin' in the tall oak tree
They sing a little song for the people
And they sing a little song for me

(choir: He's different and he don't care who knows it
Somethin' about him
Not the same
He's different and that's how it goes
And he's not gonna play your gosh darn game)

I'm different and I don't care who knows it
Somethin' about me
Is not the same
I'm different and that's how it goes
Ain't gonna play no boss man's game

gross rainbow of haerosmith (underrated aerosmith albums I have loved), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:34 (six years ago) Permalink

Definitely - there's a big difference between songwriters who remember the class battles of the late 70s and early 80s and those born too late. When people talk about Turner and Skinner in relation to earlier socially observant songwriters they often gloss over that crucial divide. There's always turmoil and tension in the Smiths, the Specials, Pulp, etc, whereas the 00s variant is more like "Tsk, there's nowt so queer as folk."

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:34 (six years ago) Permalink

Also I'm surprised Kate hates this song so much 'cos it's always kinda reminded me of La Dusseldorf

Tom A. (Tom B.) (Tom C.) (Tom D.), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:37 (six years ago) Permalink

They played a convincing krautrock version during the We Love Life tour.

Haunted Clocks For Sale (Dorianlynskey), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:39 (six years ago) Permalink

cut your hair and get a job.

crazy lower classes with their hair and their jobs

― ledge, Friday, September 3, 2010 3:59 PM (Yesterday) Bookmark

Also Sadie Frost already has quite short hair.

rhythm fixated member (chap), Saturday, 4 September 2010 12:56 (six years ago) Permalink

Point of divergence here seems to be that Karen and Lex see nothing wrong in the Greek girl's condescending attitude and unthinking privilege. If you think she sounds lovely, then no wonder you don't appreciate the song's rage but I think you may be in the minority there.

Um, NO.

If you want to believe that's what we said, then that says more about your prejudices that you want to construct a straw man.

I never said she was "lovely". She sounds, to me, ignorant, naive, and clueless.

It is Jarvis's discomfort (and, clearly, yours) which reads that ignorance, naivete and cluelessness as being *automatically* condescending.

In fact, the way the lyrics read to me, it seems like she's someone who has just moved to England and discovered that such a thing as class and privilege even exist. It's not that she has "unthinking privilege" it's that she has only just discovered that it exists, and is trying to work out what it means. (The fact that she's even picked up some notion that "working class life" as opposed to her life, is somehow more "authentic" means that she has worked out that her privilege and wealth exist.)

It is Jarvis who comes in, with all of his class resentments and discomfort with his own class (as pretty much evidenced by his stereotypical and negative descriptions of working class life) who tells *us*, as narrator, that he thinks this girl is condescending or has *unthinking* privilege. She is, "smiling and holding his hand" really just kind of a cipher for him to project his anger onto.

I think Lex and I have made it pretty clear that we don't think either of them are particularly sympathetic. It's that Jarvis, as narrator, comes off the worse - probably because I think that choosing bullying is worse than being born clueless.

And also that a *lot* of people who love this song are identifying with Jarvis and his rage, when really, they are totally blinkered when it comes to their own privilege. It's much easier to point out splinters in other people's eyes than it is to recognise logs in your own. At least I am honest enough to *recognise* my privilege and admit that I can see where the girl is coming from. A lot of people love this song and identify with jarvis when really, they are as clueless as the girl.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 13:35 (six years ago) Permalink

i like butts

funky brewster (San Te), Saturday, 4 September 2010 13:36 (six years ago) Permalink

fuck wrong thread

funky brewster (San Te), Saturday, 4 September 2010 13:37 (six years ago) Permalink

Ha ha ha! Hilarious.

But, erm, in the spirit of full disclosure, and kind of in keeping with your accidental interjection ...

I do not Jarvis Cocker, as a public figure. I disliked him even before this song - I always thought of him as this really quite horrible creepy sex pest. So it's going to be really hard for me to like a song which is a clumsy analysis of class dynamics as written from the point of view of a creepy sex pest.

I have never liked Pulp (even though I've had to listen to this album many, many times, due to knowing and dating quite a few Pulp fans) and the biggest reason for that is creepy sex pest Jarvis. The man just seriously skeeves me out and always has, and nothing he's ever done has ever counteracted that feeling.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 13:52 (six years ago) Permalink

And also that a *lot* of people who love this song are identifying with Jarvis and his rage, when really, they are totally blinkered when it comes to their own privilege. It's much easier to point out splinters in other people's eyes than it is to recognise logs in your own. At least I am honest enough to *recognise* my privilege and admit that I can see where the girl is coming from. A lot of people love this song and identify with jarvis when really, they are as clueless as the girl.

― cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, September 4, 2010 9:35 PM (15 minutes ago) Bookmark

sure, but you don't have to identify with jarvis in order to be critical of the girl. a lot of the discussion itt has been centered on the fact that jarvis's class hangups are just as despicable and reprehensible as the girl's, and that's part of the songs fun. but that doesn't extend the girl a get out of jail free card.

shorn_blond.avi (dayo), Saturday, 4 September 2010 13:53 (six years ago) Permalink

i will say jarvis's michael jackson protest was pretty ironic

funky brewster (San Te), Saturday, 4 September 2010 13:55 (six years ago) Permalink

Well, it really kinda says something about just how creepy Jarvis is, that I actually sympathise with the girl more than him, then.

I guess the thing is, I've known quite a few people like the girl, and some of them did turn out to be alright in the end, that they were capable of growing and learning to not be completely clueless. The people I've known who were more like Jarvis ended up pretty much choking on their own bitterness. But this is really projection based on mine own life, not anything to do with Jarvis or the Greek girl.

(But, works of art can be successful or fail, based on how closely they reflect or describe experiences you've been through. Probably the same things that make others like the song make me hate it, because of this. I guess? Dunno.)

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 13:57 (six years ago) Permalink

In fact, the way the lyrics read to me, it seems like she's someone who has just moved to England and discovered that such a thing as class and privilege even exist. It's not that she has "unthinking privilege" it's that she has only just discovered that it exists, and is trying to work out what it means. (The fact that she's even picked up some notion that "working class life" as opposed to her life, is somehow more "authentic" means that she has worked out that her privilege and wealth exist.)

I believe that jarvis' intent was to create a dislikeable slumming rich girl, not a innocent curious foreigner. you can argue that he failed at this attempt, but by defending this fictional character you are basically sticking up for his strawman.

iatee, Saturday, 4 September 2010 13:58 (six years ago) Permalink

I mean what if he added a line "also she molests children" - now this is a clearly dislikeable person and rich people are now bad, right?

iatee, Saturday, 4 September 2010 14:00 (six years ago) Permalink

im p sure they have poor people in greece

i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, 4 September 2010 14:00 (six years ago) Permalink

One point made over and again in this thread is the different ways of expressing/dealing with/discussing class systems in different countries. US, UK, and various Euro countries having notably different systems.

Also - I think that the art school bit of it is quite U&K to this, in that art school, in Britain, *is* where people from both ends of the spectrum encounter each other for the first time. I think it's actually pretty common for people to through their childhood and lower schooling without ever encountering someone from another class. In fact, *very* common in upper classes, and they go to great lengths to keep it that way. Not defending this in any way, it's to the detriment of all, I think. But yeah, I don't think it's that uncommon.

But I think the point is that lazy bad songwriter Jarvis knows that he can say "rich girl" and people will automatically supply "dislikeable" so he doesn't have to work very hard at characterisation. And he didn't. But the problem is, if you have someone who can hear the term "rich girl" without thinking "dislikeable" the song falls apart pretty quickly.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 14:16 (six years ago) Permalink

But the problem is, if you have someone who can hear the term "rich girl" without thinking "dislikeable" the song falls apart pretty quickly. - Kate I was exactly like this girl for much of my adult life, and I love this song - I think it's spot on about what I was missing! I think there's a lot to what you said earlier about the gender aspect.

Gravel Puzzleworth, Saturday, 4 September 2010 14:20 (six years ago) Permalink

> because I think that choosing bullying is worse than being born clueless.

How is he bullying? All he did with/to her was take her to a supermarket and let her buy him a drink.

(send me upthread if you already covered it...hard to scan it all!)

john. a resident of chicago., Saturday, 4 September 2010 14:58 (six years ago) Permalink

How is he bullying?

it gets a bit weird when he starts saying all that stuff about the dog imo

i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, 4 September 2010 15:09 (six years ago) Permalink

yeah, the bit about the dog - the language of violence - i dunno, but i read that as "this is what happened to me" as opposed to "this is what they will do to you, attractive wealthy heiress" - and probably i get that impression based on gender.

it is a little off-kilter that he takes her to a supermarket as opposed to a bar or some sporting event where one would observe "common people" in their natural habitat - i mean, the supermarket, you'd probably find something more approximating a cross-section of classes

sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:23 (six years ago) Permalink

I think the assumption is that posh people probably shop at whole foods or waitroses or whatever the UK equivalent is. by supermarket I think he means your absolute bottom-of-the-line save-a-lot or whatever.

shorn_blond.avi (dayo), Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:24 (six years ago) Permalink

so that implies to me - plus the art school detail - that he isn't really of the same class as the "common people" she wants to live like - and she's totally ignorant of the narcissism of small differences that define his world and alienation from the people who he shares an income level but not the same class position

sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:25 (six years ago) Permalink

Sometimes enlightenment comes from the most unlikely sources.

And it was actually something in the other thread produced the weirdest "kick in the eye" satori moment of understanding my own privilege and what it means.

Because too often privilege is this term of nastiness that gets thrown around, who has it, who doesn't have it, and if you do have it, you're supposed to feel some kind of guilt and if you don't, you're supposed to feel some kind of resentment. But there was this sudden reminder of "holy fucking shit, I have this... *thing*!"

And it isn't related to money (because I've had periods of relative wealth and poverty) and it isn't related to class (though I think being of a certain class means you're more likely to be exposed to this idea - but as likely to have it crushed out of you) and it's not related to urban/rural/access issues because I had it in spades in rural upstate NY but somehow forgot I had it in London.

It's this sense of *possibility*.

And that's something that doesn't just come from class or wealth (though they help) - it can come from a parent who takes the effort to instill it in you, it can come from a teacher who bothers to believe in you, it can come from a book, from a library, from a community/club (and this is probably why Tories are so keen on privatising libraries and getting rid of community centres), it *can* come from a church or a religion (though a lot of people misuse religion as a power-gaining tool to beat it out of others) - and my objection to this song is that Cocker conflates it solely with wealth/class when it *can* and does come from other places.

It's this idea that there *is* something more to your life than just drink and dance and screw (or just watch football or big brother or mindlessly indulge in consumer culture) - and it doesn't matter if that *something* is poetry or playing the ukulele or pigeon-breeding or local politics. It's the idea that even if you cannot control the strictures of the material aspects of your life, you *can* still control what you do with what is left. (In fact, one of the easiest ways to control other people is to narrow what little else they have until there is nothing left.) It's easier to do when you can control the material aspects of your life - but having control over them is, in fact, no guarantee that you even have this sense.

And people will use all sorts of things to narrow down that sense of possibility - they will try to blanket exclude you from it on account of race in the US and class in the UK, on account of your being female or homosexual *everywhere* (and many more things, all of these things combined in ugly ways.) And yet people can become as trapped by their own resentments as they can by other people trying to narrow them.

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.

But I don't really care about the song any more. I have suddenly just been given a glimpse of my own privilege at a time in my life when I was feeling really trapped. And this reminder, this sense of *possibility* is something I really wish I could just give to everyone. But I guess the important thing is to stop it being *taken away* from people.

You have completely accidentally given me something really quite profound and necessary, ILX, even if I've made a complete pigs ear of trying to express it. (And I'm sure I will be mocked relentlessly for saying something so sincere, but hey, mockery is a classic tool for trying to narrow others.)

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:27 (six years ago) Permalink

i think you're right about the sense of possibility w/r/t the song - that's kinda what i see it being about. and i feel like the jarvis character somewhat envies the "common people" their lack of possibility (in his eyes) that they just "dance, and drink and screw" - all of which are enjoyable past-times, meanwhile he just seethes with resentment over his perceived (maybe real?) lack of possibilities - though it's obvious he's had more opportunities than the noble savages he's describing. And then there's the Greek girl, who really can do whatever she wants.

sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:34 (six years ago) Permalink

it is a little off-kilter that he takes her to a supermarket as opposed to a bar or some sporting event where one would observe "common people" in their natural habitat - i mean, the supermarket, you'd probably find something more approximating a cross-section of classes

― sarahel, Saturday, September 4, 2010 6:23 PM (4 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

I think the assumption is that posh people probably shop at whole foods or waitroses or whatever the UK equivalent is. by supermarket I think he means your absolute bottom-of-the-line save-a-lot or whatever.

― shorn_blond.avi (dayo), Saturday, September 4, 2010 6:24 PM (3 minutes ago) Bookmark

he says very clearly that he 'doesn't know' where to start, so starts at the supermarket.

i suppose in theory posh english people shop at waitrose or m&s, but i don't think all of them do, and either way, those are still basically supermarkets. and i think they were less in evidence in the mid-1990s. or sure, i guess there are other suppliers of food -- but no, i think rich people shop at sainsbury's too.

perhaps the very rich have people to do it for them. these days home delivery is not uncommon, but again, dunno about the olden days.

the supermarket in the video doesn't look particularly run down, or particularly upmarket either.

i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:34 (six years ago) Permalink

history mayne - are we in agreement that we think the jarvis character isn't actually of the class that the girl wants to experience? it seems like some other posters think that he is.

sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:36 (six years ago) Permalink

he probably meant kwik save

whoa...did I or didn't I? (cozen), Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:38 (six years ago) Permalink

the jarvis character isn't actually of the class that the girl wants to experience?

he definitely isn't, but she thinks he is, coz she's foreign/rich

i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:39 (six years ago) Permalink

rich people eat out all the time and when they can't do that they just eat their servants amirite

shorn_blond.avi (dayo), Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:39 (six years ago) Permalink

i think i posted way upthread about the difficulty of isolating this song from the rest of the album (probably because i'm American, and it wasn't a hit single here) - so i keep thinking about the song about Deborah and her rather small house with wood chip on the walls - and the way he describes it makes it seem like he grew up above her station. And she is an example of a "common person" that he romanticizes.

sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 17:43 (six years ago) Permalink

I find it difficult to view the whole album as one character. I've always thought of it as exploring different facets of class and sex, and as such each song stands alone though tied to certain themes that run through the whole album.

I think we're going around in circles. I really admired your post, Kate, and I would agree with a lot of what you're saying about the song itself, except I think that makes it a richer experience. Class conflict in whatever form is never straight forward, and I think this song recognizes that, even as it plays up the simplicity and rage on the surface. I guess it comes down to if you think he's actually advocating the bullying or not, or if there's any agency at all in a song full stop.

There's nothing wrong with any approach, of course.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Saturday, 4 September 2010 18:23 (six years ago) Permalink

Isn't the narrator - like Jesus Christ himself - somewhere between 'respectable' working- and lower middle class? SReynolds' 'liminal class' whose status anxiety and fractious autodidacticism supposedly makes for good music.

nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 18:28 (six years ago) Permalink

working class and smart enough to go to art school doesn't mean you're not still working class.

totally agree with "liminal class" and also "educated poor"—jarvis has his foot in each of these worlds but doesn't really belong to either. too cultured to put up with being working class, even if that's where he comes from economically.

like a musical album. made by a band. (fucking in the streets), Saturday, 4 September 2010 18:37 (six years ago) Permalink

Isn't the narrator - like Jesus Christ himself - somewhere between 'respectable' working- and lower middle class? SReynolds' 'liminal class' whose status anxiety and fractious autodidacticism supposedly makes for good music.

― nakhchivan, Saturday, September 4, 2010 11:28 AM (8 minutes ago) Bookmark

he does have the same initials

like a musical album. made by a band. (fucking in the streets), Saturday, 4 September 2010 18:37 (six years ago) Permalink

I think that the narrator is of the "Academic/Bohemian" class (which was, in the Big Book Of Class that my brother made me read when he first discovered that there was such a thing as Class, which our parents had kept from us for many years, to the point where this book seemed more mind-blowing and revolutionary than discovering pornography) - which is this supposed non-class to which escapees from other classes can sidestep to. (Though the book pointed out that it is usually more often posh people escaping down to this class rather than the working class escaping up, though this can and does happen, just not with the same frequency.)

I suspect that the Greek girl, as well, would like to be side stepping into this same "Academic/Bohemian" class (they are both at art school after all) via this Authentic Working Class (tm) experience, but he won't let her leave her class any more than she will allow him to leave hers.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 18:38 (six years ago) Permalink

In Paul Fussell's book on Class (written about America in the early 80s) he termed that "Class X" - i felt it was a bit of a cop-out based on the structure/ideas he layed out. Like, I feel that even if you belong to some separate Academic/Bohemian class, the attitudes, values, signifiers (even in reacting against them) still come along with you.

sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 18:49 (six years ago) Permalink

That's the book, I just found it on Amazon.

My brother read it like a bible then passed it me, with salient points underlined.

I mean, the book was written before the counterculture got commodified into Hipster so he does have some points about it being an attempted escape from the class system.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 18:54 (six years ago) Permalink

There can't possibly be an account of class that considers ~Bohemianism~ as a determinant, it's just an affective disposition. Could apply to a lawyer who reads Huysmans and gets blowjobs from the au pair while his wife does khat nearby or a miner's daughter with an arts degree from an Ex-Polytechnic.

Nor does academia exclude material considerations - as with the clergy they have (or have had) very secure and comfortable working conditions, they've forgone lucrative salaries but their ~ cultural capital ~ insulates them other middling earners, eg they tend to segregate themselves in college towns.

nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 18:59 (six years ago) Permalink

(Reading the "exercises" in the back, I tell you, we racked our brains trying to remember the state of the conductor's clothes at the symphonies we'd been taken to as children, to work out what class we were.)

This book was talking about American class though, so these distinctions don't really apply. I don't know that the UK had a Class X in the way that the US tried to practice.

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 19:00 (six years ago) Permalink

Isn't the narrator - like Jesus Christ himself - somewhere between 'respectable' working- and lower middle class? SReynolds' 'liminal class' whose status anxiety and fractious autodidacticism supposedly makes for good music.

― nakhchivan, Saturday, September 4, 2010 7:28 PM (46 minutes ago) Bookmark

mad props for this

i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, 4 September 2010 19:15 (six years ago) Permalink

Do you agree with Reynolds?

nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 19:16 (six years ago) Permalink

don't answer mayne, it's a trap.

a cankle of rads (Gukbe), Saturday, 4 September 2010 19:18 (six years ago) Permalink

Ha.

mc banhammer (Pashmina), Saturday, 4 September 2010 19:21 (six years ago) Permalink

on the specific terrain of british song-based pop music of the post-war era... sure, up to a point. he's definitely on to something.

idk, though, the classic (stereotypical but basically true ime) thing about the lower middle class is fear of 'falling', hence excessive attention to status. so i dunno if we really need this 'liminal' thing. it's just that artists tend to be particularly sensitive people, and don't feel at home anywhere -- they're bound to feel liminal, whatever class they come from.

either way, there's lots of good music from the same time and place that is good and which was not produced by these liminal types.

xpost

lol

i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, 4 September 2010 19:23 (six years ago) Permalink

*sensitive [not necessarily wrt other people]

i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, 4 September 2010 19:27 (six years ago) Permalink

My favourite version from my favourite Glastonbury of that decade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVBiNu1HIZ0

piscesx, Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:01 (six years ago) Permalink

idk, though, the classic (stereotypical but basically true ime) thing about the lower middle class is fear of 'falling', hence excessive attention to status. so i dunno if we really need this 'liminal' thing. it's just that artists tend to be particularly sensitive people, and don't feel at home anywhere -- they're bound to feel liminal, whatever class they come from.

either way, there's lots of good music from the same time and place that is good and which was not produced by these liminal types.

xpost

lol

― i am legernd (history mayne), Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:23 (48 minutes ago)

That seems about right. It makes sense for the kinda postwar settlement period where people from that background began going to university. They would have seen a lot of the world in their formative years, and probably felt a lot of anxiety about their place in it.

Reynolds also seems to think that a lot of yr faceless techno ppl are from downscale suburban places in outer London and carry on the tradition into his 'Nuum'. No 'Strawberry Fields' from that lot though.

nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:23 (six years ago) Permalink

JC definitely doesn't *dislike* this girl in the song by the way. At one point in the 2005 BBC documentary all about Common People he/ the beeb went so far as to actually try tracking her down. He was shown a variety of photos back at St Martin's by one of his lecturers from the time he was there but said he couldn't quite place her face after all those years. That doc was great, it used to be on You Tube but isn't currently.

It's interesting how well Pulp got on with both Oasis and Blur in the britpop era. Noel was keen to big up Jarvis every chance he got, Pulp supported Oasis at their first big arena show (in Sheffield, 95), toured with Blur too etc. They were just about the only common ground between the 2 bands back then; they both loved Jarvis/Pulp!

Funny how"Rum n Coca Cola" never caught on again in the Britpop era like Supersonic's "Gin n Tonic" did.

piscesx, Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:33 (six years ago) Permalink

What class do you reckon SReynolds comes from, in order to find that "liminal class" art so clearly and obviously the most superior?

cymose corymb (Karen D. Tregaskin), Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:43 (six years ago) Permalink

It's interesting how well Pulp got on with both Oasis and Blur in the britpop era.

Hmmmm...

That's not what I heard, necessarily........

Mark G, Saturday, 4 September 2010 20:44 (six 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 (six 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 (six years ago) Permalink

That's more or less the same thing in this case isn't it?

nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 21:57 (six 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 (six 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 (six years ago) Permalink

you went to Sarah Lawrence, suzy, is that right?

sarahel, Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:12 (six years ago) Permalink

doesn't necessarily make it better than everything else does it?

― 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 (six years ago) Permalink

*synth*

nakhchivan, Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:15 (six years ago) Permalink

scythe

Mark G, Saturday, 4 September 2010 22:17 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six years ago) Permalink

and 'Rum and Coca Cola' was appropriated by its targets as well

Ismael Klata, Sunday, 5 September 2010 10:00 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six years ago) Permalink

That's a good post, ithappens, and informative!

Gravel Puzzleworth, Sunday, 5 September 2010 12:01 (six 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 (six 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 -

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9Wa4tIofqU

<3

لوووووووووووووووووووول (lex pretend), Sunday, 5 September 2010 12:44 (six 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 (six 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.

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 (six 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 (six years ago) Permalink

Sorry should be "put anything on in it"

Gavin in Leeds, Sunday, 5 September 2010 15:02 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six 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 (six years ago) Permalink

1996-2001. Oasis, other Britpop and East 17 popular at first, then came dance/trance dominance. All of the various rock/indie subcultures got lumped into the one category. UK Garage came after but was never really as popular.

I remember a lot of guys switching their allegience from dance to rap towards the end, especially after Eminem.

Duane Barry, Sunday, 5 September 2010 18:27 (six years ago) Permalink

I wonder what Sarah Palin would think of this discussion.

Naive Teen Idol, Sunday, 5 September 2010 18:40 (six years ago) Permalink

82-87. Metal, electro/old school hip hop, post punk/punk/goth

I don't remember music ever being an issue at school. Even if you liked the Smiths. All the violence and aggravation was all about football, rugby, the brand of your trainers, the tightness of your jeans and for the unfortunate minority, the colour of your skin. My school was a terrible hive of cuntery but I will give them musical open-mindedness. Even the house breakers were bong loaded Zappa and Neu! fans.

Duran (Doran), Sunday, 5 September 2010 18:57 (six years ago) Permalink

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.

This is partly why it's great. There isn't even a story past the first two verses - trip to the supermarket and then it's all rant. The last thing the girl does is laugh at him taking the poverty tour guide stuff too srsly, and then it's a feverish speculation that allows her to vicariously experience the frisson of dirt and lust and torpor while he gets fucked up about it.

The reasons to dislike are centred around other people miseading the lyrics as a proletkult apology and the general dishonesty and shittiness of the britpop era. The ~ song itself ~ is pretty singular and great rly.

no time for the prussian death cult (nakhchivan), Wednesday, 8 September 2010 00:27 (six years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

I feel like I will never go thru a hardcore drug addiction phase
Will never live in a shithole crack den meth lab apartment
Do drugs that involve needles
have sex in a graveyard
communicate with spirits
Have my bros crucify me just 4 shits
Sell my body for drugs
Contract some sort of infection/STD/terminal illness

Just dark ass shit

Feel like I'm always gonna be kinda mnstrm
and I won't ever be that dark

nakhchivan, Wednesday, 20 October 2010 23:23 (six years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

that 'story of Common People' doc is on You Tube it appears.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ltodth1h1Oo

piscesx, Thursday, 11 November 2010 12:49 (six years ago) Permalink

terrific blog by Dorian: http://33revolutionsperminute.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/the-rage-of-common-people/

ithappens, Thursday, 11 November 2010 12:58 (six years ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

Has anyone read Owen Hatherley's book "Uncommon"?

Gukbe, Wednesday, 15 June 2011 18:14 (six years ago) Permalink

wow, somehow i completely missed this thread the first time around. i've been reading for 20 minutes and have barely scratched the surface.

it's amazing to me that so many people are new to this song!

to my mind it's one of the best pop (rock?) songs of the 90s. maybe the best? at any rate it's one of the few pop (rock?) songs in recent memory where the snarling, desperate, animal energy of the vocals actually has a convincing basis in the lyrics. i just don't believe singers when they get all angry or excited usually, cause what are they singing about? who knows.

also i just want to take this opportunity to mention that an unremarkable baseball card from a particular year - a card that doesn't command any sort of price above and beyond the rest of them - is called a "common". i always felt sorry for the players pictured on them.

40% chill and 100% negative (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 15 June 2011 19:34 (six years ago) Permalink

lol @ "recent memory" being.... 15 YEARS AGO

40% chill and 100% negative (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 15 June 2011 19:35 (six years ago) Permalink

Hatherley wrote a pretty basic piece for The Guardian about their festival performances though really it's just a primer for the book.

Gukbe, Wednesday, 15 June 2011 20:56 (six years ago) Permalink

pulp were just ridiculously good at primavera. forget suede or blur - this is the really essential britpop reunion you need to be at.

I'm A Genius, Too! (Jamie_ATP), Wednesday, 15 June 2011 21:03 (six years ago) Permalink

I wouldn't agree with a lot of the above. The song doesn't set our narrator "above" the Greek girl. By the end of the song our narrator has reached the same position that she holds at the start, claiming to want to live with common people "like you", except before the song's end he's stooped lower than she has.

He catches her eye *because* she studies "sculpture" - that's what he is to her, an object of some aesthetic interest, but without, ultimately, any sexual interest. Not "poor" enough, nor (therefore) "cool" enough, or so he'd like to think.

The rejection sends our narrator off on his rant, which is more about his *own* fascination / revulsion for the "common people" than it is about hers (if indeed she has such strong feelings).

By the point at which he's calling the "common people" as witnesses to the Greek girl's failings, he's not only romanticising them and aestheticising them, as she does, he wants them to sing along with his own condemnations. Which is spiteful, cheap, and nasty - but these qualities are, perhaps, not uncommon.

Neil Willett, Wednesday, 15 June 2011 23:05 (six years ago) Permalink

I just hope that the guy got a chance to bone down after he was done freaking the fuck out.

the deee-lite psa (kkvgz), Wednesday, 15 June 2011 23:50 (six years ago) Permalink

pulp were just ridiculously good at primavera.

this.

his name was rony. rony from my cage. (stevie), Thursday, 16 June 2011 19:41 (six years ago) Permalink

I wouldn't agree with a lot of the above. The song doesn't set our narrator "above" the Greek girl. By the end of the song our narrator has reached the same position that she holds at the start, claiming to want to live with common people "like you", except before the song's end he's stooped lower than she has.

He catches her eye *because* she studies "sculpture" - that's what he is to her, an object of some aesthetic interest, but without, ultimately, any sexual interest. Not "poor" enough, nor (therefore) "cool" enough, or so he'd like to think.

The rejection sends our narrator off on his rant, which is more about his *own* fascination / revulsion for the "common people" than it is about hers (if indeed she has such strong feelings).

By the point at which he's calling the "common people" as witnesses to the Greek girl's failings, he's not only romanticising them and aestheticising them, as she does, he wants them to sing along with his own condemnations. Which is spiteful, cheap, and nasty - but these qualities are, perhaps, not uncommon.

― Neil Willett, Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:05 AM (21 hours ago) Bookmark

more interesting than owen hatherley's reading at any rate -- i don't think we should identify with the narrator rly.

idk, im middle-class, i've never pretended to be otherwise, 'common people' is directed against people who do; so i guess i can go on my merry way? i don't mind people liking this pretty mediocre piece of music. never liked the 'deliberately tinselly' vibe of 95-era pulp.

underrated mountain goats bootlegs I have owned (history mayne), Thursday, 16 June 2011 20:34 (six years ago) Permalink

i don't mind people liking this pretty mediocre piece of music.

people everywhere breathe a sigh of relief

And the piano, it sounds like a carnivore (contenderizer), Thursday, 16 June 2011 21:05 (six years ago) Permalink

it's so refreshing when history mayne just agrees to disagree rather than call his opponents fucking idiots.

sarahel, Thursday, 16 June 2011 22:33 (six years ago) Permalink

well, people i like like pulp

and i liked pulp before they did

underrated mountain goats bootlegs I have owned (history mayne), Thursday, 16 June 2011 22:36 (six years ago) Permalink

I have a cookie here for you.

The Edge of Gloryhole (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 16 June 2011 23:03 (six years ago) Permalink

sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes, it's good to be american

strongo hulkington's ghost dad, Thursday, 16 June 2011 23:07 (six years ago) Permalink

Someone should compile these interpretations and hand them to Jarvis.

Particularly:

By the point at which he's calling the "common people" as witnesses to the Greek girl's failings, he's not only romanticising them and aestheticising them, as she does, he wants them to sing along with his own condemnations. Which is spiteful, cheap, and nasty - but these qualities are, perhaps, not uncommon.

.. which is wrongy, but funny too.

Mark G, Friday, 17 June 2011 09:18 (six years ago) Permalink

wow, just realised all these years I've been hearing this great line " the tube station grease will come out in the bath." which actually erm sort of isn't in the song.

sometimes all it takes is a healthy dose of continental indiepop (tomofthenest), Friday, 17 June 2011 10:12 (six years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

this is a really great song

van ingalls wilder (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 22 July 2011 23:02 (six years ago) Permalink

this thread's so bizarre. had no idea there were ppl out there who were actually offended by this song.

(The Other) J.D. (J.D.), Sunday, 24 July 2011 00:25 (six years ago) Permalink

three years pass...

As good a place as any to ask:

Like a dog lying in a corner,
they'll bite you and never warn you.
Look out.
They'll tear your insides out.

Does anyone know what the backing vocals are here?

Andrew Farrell, Sunday, 18 January 2015 21:09 (two years ago) Permalink

http://www.pulpwiki.net/Pulp/AskDrPulp

Jan/Feb 96

Steve Bayliss is from Widnes and he's interested to find out just what Jarvis is going on about in Common People in the "Dog lying in a corner" bit. Is it too obscene to publish, he asks?

The Doc says, whilst recording the acoustic guitar track, Jarvis' headphone level was too loud, and he was asking for it to be turned down. The "Dog lying in the corner" bit is Jarvis wittering on as only he can, while the levels were corrected. The group thought it sounded good anyway and kept it.

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 19 January 2015 17:29 (two years ago) Permalink

Thank you!

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 20 January 2015 14:52 (two years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

http://www.factmag.com/2015/05/07/pulp-common-people-greek-girl-identity/

Please let this turn out to be the right person it would just be too perfect a punchline.

Matt DC, Thursday, 7 May 2015 14:14 (two years ago) Permalink

Excellent.

Cram Session in Goniometry (Tom D.), Thursday, 7 May 2015 14:27 (two years ago) Permalink

good song

thoughts you made second posts about (darraghmac), Monday, 25 May 2015 16:23 (two years ago) Permalink


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