Short Story in a Song — “Common People”

I was a big Blur fan when Britpop happened in the 90s. I always preferred their precious take on The Kinks vein of British blues rock over Oasis’ fascination with Beatles-based psychedelia. Since then I have come to the conclusion that Supergrass was ultimately my favorite band from that era—who can go wrong with melding Bowie and The Stones? But none of those bands wrote the perfect Britpop short story song. That honor goes to Pulp in my book.

What starts off as a tale about an unlikely one night stand, quickly turns into a scathing indictment of class and wealth. Our narrator is a working class guy out on the town who encounters a young woman of means. She buys him a drink, expressing interest in sleeping with him to find out how the other half lives. He starts by taking her to a supermarket and asks her to wander the aisles pretending she has no money. She laughs him off while he explains that being rich keeps her insulated from the cold reality of a world that offers no relief beyond dancing, drinking and screwing. Sure, she could lay in bed with him watching roaches climb the wall, but if it got to scary she could always be rescued by her father—and that makes her a tourist.

Read the full lyrics for Pulp’s “Common People” HERE.

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

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