Common People – Pulp

Hello and welcome to another ELTune! Apologies for the lack of posts in recent weeks. To make up for it, you’re getting a trio of tunes to play with!

First off, I’m going to tell you about a great little number by the 90s Britpop band Pulp that I recently used with a class of 18 year olds so that they could get some prepositions practice while also learning about social class in the UK. They loved it! This was a 90 minute lesson.

The gap fill is taken from the full length album version which I got from the excellent blog Tefltastic (click link for a PDF copy of the lyrics). I highly recommend you show your students the shorter video version for a comical look at life in northern England, and simply because it’s brilliant! (Admittedly, I didn’t realise that they were different at the time of teaching it until some students pointed it out, so out came the usual “Just checking to see if you were awake!” line 🙂 )

Common People – Pulp (1996)

She came ____ Greece, she had a thirst _____ knowledge She studied sculpture ______ St Martin’s College
That’s where I caught her eye

She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said,‘_____ that case I’ll have rum and coca-cola.’
She said, ‘Fine.’ And then, ______ thirty seconds time, she said ‘I want to live _____ common people
I want to do whatever common people do
I want to sleep ______ common people
I want to sleep _____ common people like you’
What else could I do, I said
‘I’ll see what I can do’.

I took her ______ a supermarket
I don’t why, but I had ______ start it somewhere So it started there
I said, ‘Pretend you’ve got no money.’
She just laughed and said, ‘You’re so funny.’
I said, ‘Yer, I can’t see anyone else smiling here Are you sure?

You want to live _______ common people
You want to see whatever common people see
You want to sleep ______ common people
You want to sleep ______ common people like me.’ But she didn’t understand
She just smiled and held my hand

Rent a flat ______ a shop
Cut your hair and get a job
Smoke some fags and play some pool
Pretend you never went _____ school
But still you’ll never get it right
‘Cos when you’re laid ______ bed ______ night Watching roaches climb the wall
If you called your Dad he could stop it all

You’ll never live _____ common people
You’ll never do whatever common people do Never fail _____ common people
You’ll never watch you life slide ______ of view And then dance and drink and screw
Because there’s nothing else ____ do

Sing along ______ the common people
Sing along and it might just get you ________ Laugh ______ with the common people

Laugh _____ even though they’re laughing _____ you And the stupid things you do
Because you think that it’s cool

Like a dog lying _____ the corner
They will bite you and never warn you
Look out, they’ll tear your insides _____
‘Cos everybody hates a tourist
Especially one who thinks it’s all such a laugh And the chip stains and grease
Will come ______ in the bath

You will never understand
How it feels ______ live your life ______ 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 etc.

Facts:

  • The inspiration for the song came from the lead singer meeting a well-to-do Greek girl while studying at Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design in London who had apparently told him she wanted to move to Hackney to live like the common people.
  • The video shows typical housing from said industrial era still found in northern parts of England, stereotypical scenes from streets and a British supermarket, plus some hilarious dancing taking place in a local working men’s club where working class people would spend their evenings dancing and enjoy themselves (See Peter Kay’s series Phoenix Nights for another a fictional version of this kind of club.)
  •  Pulp come from Sheffield in South Yorkshire, northern England, also known as “Steel City” due to its internationally famed production of steel during the 1800s, which, by the 1970s and 80s sadly died out due to competition from international companies. Most cutlery will have Sheffield embossed on it! (Well, ours does anyway.)
  • The lead singer, Jarvis Cocker, is famous for crashing Michael Jackson’s performance of Earth Song at the Brit Awards music ceremony 21 years ago. Check Youtube for the clip! He also presents a very good show on BBC Radio’s 6 Music every Sunday. Go listen!

Follow-up Activity

Warning: This is a very general and perhaps stereotypical lesson plan taking a look at what social class in the UK was once like, intended for students who have no prior knowledge of such a system. I also used this for prepositions practice, so you can add these in if this is not your focus.

Social Class in the UK

 

Enjoy!

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