The real-life inspiration for Pulp’s “Common People” has been a well-kept secret for 20 years. The song describes a girl from Greece, who’s got a thirst for knowledge and a rich dad, and who studied sculpture at Central Saint Martins college of art.
That girl may finally be thrust into the spotlight: rumour has it, she’s Danae Stratou, aka Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’ wife. She did study sculpture at Saint Martins from 1983-88, where her senior year overlapped with Cocker’s, who, as a mature student, studied film and video. Her dad, Phaedon, helped run the family textile firm (one of Greece’s biggest) and was a wealthy industrialist. She herself is currently an installation artist who exhibits worldwide, splitting time between Greece and Texas. Check it out below:
“Common People” was a huge hit in 1995. The lyrics that describe the mystery girl find Cocker singing: “Smoke some fags and play some pool, pretend you never went to school/But still you’ll never get it right/‘Cos when you’re laid in bed at night watching roaches climb the wall/If you call your dad he could stop it all…”
Jarvis Cocker confirmed that the lady does really exist, but admitted that the part in the song where she propositions him because she wants “to sleep with common people” was nothing more than a dream.
But, another Greek artist says it is she, not Danae, who inspired Cocker. Katerina Kana also attended Saint Martins from 1990-93, after spending time in Paris and New York. “We spent an evening together, drinking and talking. He was amazing and suddenly in the conversation I told him, ‘I wanna live like common people,’ she said in 2012 about hanging out with Cocker.