Smoke all my cigarettes again :: Pulp :: My Favorite Artists


Pulp :: My Favorite Artists

It was at a movie theater in the late 90’s when I first heard a Pulp song. It was the song Like a Friend, which was featured on the Great Expectations soundtrack (the ’98 version with Gwyneth and Ethan and Anne Bancroft version). The soundtrack itself is great, and I loved many of the songs on it, but this song stood out from all the rest and became one of those songs I could not stop listening to. I loved the complexity of emotions the song elicited, the slow, sad start full of heartbreak and longing and all that “just stay one more night” kind of way, and then the build, the pulse thumping rise the song takes and the bitter list of regret filled facts that are tinged with anger and grief and desperation. It soon became one of my all-time favorite “break-up” songs, one that also worked as a “I know you are bad for me, but fuck it I want to do it again” kind of song, too (most of us have been there, or have been that person to someone else – I know I’ve been on both sides of it).

It would be a few more years until I heard them again, this time it was a late Sunday afternoon and a friend of mine was in town visiting. He kept raving about this band he was obsessing over and decided I needed a Pulp-crash-course. It was Common People then that took hold of me, a song so sharp and on-point and lyrically brilliant that I found myself obsessed, too. It is one of those songs that I can listen to and feel like I want to dance and sing to it, losing myself in the music itself. Other times I am pushed to scream-sing it, my voice and emotions full of vitirol because there is nothing glorious about being broke. And then, there are moments when the song brings tears, especially the lyrics in the chorus:

You’ll never live like common people,
you’ll never do whatever common people do,
you’ll 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.”

because it hits a nerve, and because I have lived the life of barely surviving, and living off of music and addictions and love and sex because there really isn’t much else to do to emotionally survive.

After that, it was a slew of songs that became part of my musical arsenal, my favorite ones listed below. Jarvis is such a showman, with a voice I would never mistake. Lyrically, the songs are clever without being contrived, intelligent, sexual, emotional and full of real, everyday humanity. There are tongue-in-cheek moments, blush-worthy moments, and moments that feel private and confessional, in a way that you’d expect to find in diary pages, or overheard conversations between best friends.

Pulp has become one of my all-time favorite bands, and like my friend years ago, I want to give everyone I know a crash-course, too (or at least a “My Favorite Artists” blog post.

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Pulp were formed in Sheffield in 1978. Their best-known line-up from their heyday (1994–1996) consisted of Jarvis Cocker (vocals, guitar), Candida Doyle (keyboards), Russell Senior (guitar, violin), Mark Webber (guitar, keyboards), Steve Mackey (bass) and Nick Banks (drums). Senior quit in 1996 and has since 2010 returned for tours, while Leo Abrahams has been a touring member of the band since they reunited in 2011, contributing electric and acoustic guitar.

Throughout the 1980’s, the band struggled to find success, but gained prominence in the UK in the mid-1990’s with the release of the albums His ‘n’ Hers in 1994 and particularly Different Class in 1995, which reached the number one spot in the UK Albums Chart.Different Class spawned four top ten singles, including Common People and Sorted for E’s & Wizz, both of which reached number two in the UK Singles Chart. Pulp’s musical style during this period consisted of disco influenced pop-rock coupled with “kitchen sink drama“-style lyrics. Jarvis Cocker and the band became reluctant figures in the Britpop movement, and were nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 1994 for His ‘n’ Hers; they won the prize in 1996 for Different Class and were nominated again in 1998 for This Is Hardcore. They headlined the Pyramid Stage of the Glastonbury Festival twice.

The band would release two further, much less successful albums, This Is Hardcore (1998) and We Love Life (2001), after which they entered an extended hiatus, having sold more than 10 million records.[3]

Pulp reunited played live again in 2011, with dates at the Isle of Wight Festival, Reading and Leeds Festivals, Sziget Festival,Primavera Sound, the Exit festival, and the Wireless Festival. A number of additional concert dates have since been added to their schedule.

In January 2013 Pulp released After You, a re-recording of a We Love Life demo track, as a digital download single. It was the band’s first single release since Bad Cover Version in 2002.

In March of 2014 Pulp and filmmaker Florian Habicht premiered the feature documentary Pulp: A Film about Life, Death & Supermarkets at SXSW Music and Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The film toured the international film festival circuit and was released theatrically by Oscilloscope Laboratories in the USA in November 2014. It is the first film about Pulp (and Sheffield) that has been made in collaboration with the band.

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My Top 10 Favorite Pulp Songs

1. Like a Friend
from the album, This is Hardcore and the Great Expectations Soundtrack

“You are the last drink I never should have drunk.
You are the body hidden in the trunk.
You are the habit I can’t seem to kick.
You are my secrets on the front page every week.”

2. Disco 2000
from the album, Different Class

“And now you’ve paid your money and you’ve taken your choice,
I know we’ll never meet again but I want you to know,
want you to know that I remember every single thing.”

3. Common People
from the album, Different Class

You will never understand,
how it feels to live your life,
with no meaning or control,
and with nowhere else to go,
you are amazed that they exist,
and they burn so bright,
while you can only wonder why.”

4, This is Hardcore
from the album, This is Hardcore

“You name the drama and I’ll play the part.”

5. Do You Remember the First Time?
from the album, His n’ Hers

“Now I don’t care what you’re doing,
No I don’t care if you screw him.
Just as long as you save a piece for me.”

6. Pencil Skirt
from the album, Different Class

“You can tell me some lies,
about the good times that you’ve had,
but I’ve kissed your mother twice,
and now I’m working on your dad,
oh baby.”

7. Babies
from the album, His n’ Hers

“Oh I want to take you home.
I want to give you children.
You might be my girlfriend.”

8. Sorted for E’s and Wizz
from the album, Different Class

“And tell me when the spaceship lands,
’cause all this has just got to mean something.

9. Bad Cover Version
from the album, We Love Life

“A bad cover version of love,
is not the real thing.”

10. My Legendary Girlfriend
from the album, Separations

“And most of all,
most of all I wonder,
I wonder what it means.
I just wanna know what it means.”

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