On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
Pulp – Common People (1995)
” Common People” is a song by English alternative rock band Pulp, released in May 1995 as the lead single off their fifth studio album Different Class . It reached number two on the UK Singles Chart, becoming a defining track of the Britpop movement and Pulp’s signature song in the process.
We’re leaving the US today, dear reader, and returning to the UK. To Yorkshire we go, my home county, and to Sheffield which is close to me. Formed in 1978 and led by Jarvis Cocker, Pulp struggled their way through the 1980s before riding the crest of the Britpop wave and becoming one of its key players along with Blur, Oasis and Suede. We join the band in 1995 with the release of their fifth album, Different Class, and 1001 Songs have gone with the track – Common People.
Common People was inspired by an encounter Jarvis Cocker had back in the 1980s with a Greek art student. She made reference to living like “common people” and the phrase stuck. In the song, Cocker describes a Greek girl who is from a wealthy family but latches onto him and insists she wants to live and sleep with common people, to experience their way of life for herself as opposed to one of privilege. The narrator is happy to show her what it means to be a common person but it is soon apparent that this girl can never fully attain the true identity of a common person for no matter how bad things get she has a wealthy family to turn to and help her through the hard times.
Having achieved success with their fourth album – His ‘n’ Hers in 1994, Pulp cemented their place as a key name in Britpop with Different Class. Common People would climb to no.2 in the UK charts while the album would win the Mercury Music Prize in 1996. I wasn’t aware of the background to Common People but it has made the song even more appealing and also sad at the same time. It remains a classic from my teenage years. Pulp disbanded in 2002 but reunited briefly a decade later.
Favourite songs so far: