"Common People" as written by Nick Banks, Jarvis Branson Cocker, Candida Doyle, Stephen Patrick Mackey and Russell Senior....
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 then in thirty seconds time she said

I wanna live like common people
I wanna do whatever common people do
Wanna sleep with common people
I wanna sleep with common people
Like you

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 wanna live like common people
You wanna see whatever common people see
Wanna sleep with common people
You wanna 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
'Cause when you're laid in bed at night
Watching roaches climb the wall
If you called your Dad he could stop it all, yeah

You'll never live like common people
You'll never do whatever common people do
Never fail like common people
You'll never watch your life slide out of view
And then 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

Like a dog lying in a corner
They will 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 stain's 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 are amazed that they exist
And they burn so bright
Whilst you can only wonder why
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
'Cause when you're laid in bed at night
Watching roaches climb the wall
If you called your Dad he could stop it all, yeah

Never live like common people
Never do what common people do
Never fail like common people
Never watch your life slide out of view
And then dance and drink and screw
Because there's nothing else to do

Wanna live with common people like you
Wanna live with common people like you
Wanna live with common people like you
Wanna live with common people like you
Wanna live with common people like you
Wanna live with common people like you
Wanna live with common people like you

Oh yeah


Lyrics submitted by 3ssence

"Common People" as written by Jarvis Branson Cocker Candida Doyle

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Common People song meanings
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59 Comments

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  • +16
    General Commentthe grass is greener on the other side, or is it? this song is brilliant. two different people come from opposite lifestyles, and long to have what the other has.

    the rich girl wants to live a seemingly simpler, plebian lifestyle, but (according to Jarvis Cocker) she could call Daddy and bail out anytime. the narrator doesn't have that luxury. he lives the life of a common person day in-day out.
    roger wilcoon May 13, 2002   Link
  • +8
    General CommentCocker's from a working-class background and is from Sheffield, so the earlier comments about him being as privileged as Greek Girl are unfounded. In England, class mobility's nothing like it is in the States.

    Lots of spoiled rich girls like to try "a bit of the rough" and this is the guy's perspective on what it's like to be used that way, and how it'll never give her the perspective she thinks she's going to get because her privilege will still get in the way. But he's still willing to go along for the ride.

    "Everybody hates a tourist" is a key line in my opinion. You may think slumming is amusing but don't assume you're really welcome there or you'll understand what's going on.
    futatoriuson September 21, 2008   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationWell, if you're reading this then you've come to the very last (at least for right now) comment. What a lot of people seem to think is that Jarvis is berating a rich girl. "Common People" is deeper than that.

    When we think about the narrator of the song, it's tempting to think he's a working-class Brit fighting the good fight. But he meets this rich Greek girl at St. Martin's liberal arts college - a fancy place for people to get fluffly degrees and credentials. So while Jarvis could, perhaps, be a working class hero, he's not exactly the underdog people want him to be. He's mingling with the upper crust of society.

    ...and that adds another level of irony to the song. The narrator is telling her she has no idea what it's like to be poor, but is he living it too? Clearly not - he's at University, with no roaches climing the wall, and he's living with purpose and direction. When the chorus comes in it's romanticizing poor people, as persons without "meaning or control" but that's not true - being poor doesn't mean you're hopeless, or stupid, or without reason to live. But our narrator lumps millions of people into this category to make this girl feel like shit. Yet he's part of the joke too.

    So there's quite a few levels of irony to this song that people seem to gloss over. What "Common People" is about is how we can never truly understand people who live tougher lives than ours - no matter how much you think you know, you're never going to experience what it's like. This song is about feigning empathy, and our protagonist does that here. Let me ask you, what do you think happens in this story after the song ends? My guess is that our protagonist and the girl get it on - she wants to know what common people are like, and he's glad to exploit his "knowledge" of them to make himself seem like an authority. And it gets him in her pants, which is why he goes on this rant in the first place.
    Sparrownedon October 19, 2012   Link
  • +3
    General CommentApparently based on true events when Jarvis was studying at St Martin's. The girl in question was the daughter of a Greek shipping magnate (or something), and wanted to live like a poor person to improve "her art."
    mytwojakeson June 02, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think its interesting that though Jarvis Cocker was probably one of the biggest sex symbols of his time, he was still able to capture the feelings of basically every ordinary asshole in the world who gets drunk, tries to get laid, and sometimes, feels his life slipping away.

    Musically the song just sort of blows me away. It builds right from the beginning and supercharges itself until it explodes like some massive-bombastic-90's-disco-fuck-everything-let's-party bomb. Not many pop songs have that almost orchestral power!! As others have said, it sums up a generation, or at least captures that really elusive feeling that was floating around in the air at the time.
    summertimeslackeron November 11, 2011   Link
  • +2
    My Opinion"Common People", without doubt, was one of the best songs to come out of the nineties. The lyrics are very clever and totally original. The presentation was a masterpiece of originality and although it missed the U.K. No 1 spot, it certainly deserved it's lasting acclaim. It's hard to believe that this masterpiece was first released in 1995 when I was a mere 47 years old !! I loved it then and I love it now !!
    Kentclan6on December 09, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI really like the Will Shatner cover, it's funny. And kinda rocky.
    moe2000on November 01, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI think I prefer the video, cut, version of this song...the "dog lying in the corner" bit's a little odd, I think.
    frozen_in_fireon March 30, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI love that big sniff he does in the last verse or so.
    _ellieon January 22, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentbest song ever by pulp !!
    BeckyBlurAlbarnon June 28, 2011   Link

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