There’s a good chance you’ve listened to Pulp’s deathless classic “Common People” a few hundred times without ever considering the possibility that it could be about a real person. That’s one of my favorite songs, and the thought never crossed my mind until last week. But as The Guardian points out, Jarvis Cocker affirmed that the woman in the song was not just a literary device in a 2013 BBC 5 interview: “I did meet this girl. She was at Saint Martin’s doing a different course. We were at a bar and she was going on about how she wanted to go and live in Hackney with the common people. And I thought, well, that’s a bit much. But I did fancy her, so I thought, am I going to let it go or shall I take her to task?” And now it sure looks like we know who that mystery woman is.
Last week, the Greek newspaper Athens Greece used the song’s opening lines (“She came from Greece, she had a thirst for knowledge / She studied sculpture at St. Martin’s College”) as clues. According to that paper, the woman in question is Danae Stratou, an installation artist who currently lives in Austin, Texas. Stratou, it emerges, was the only Greek student to study sculpture at St. Martin’s between 1983 and 1988, the same years that Cocker was studying film at the same institution. Stratou’s husband is Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s controversial Minister Of Finance. (If you watch Last Week Tonight, you saw John Oliver pretty much nail Varoufakis to a board a few weeks ago.) And as it turns out, Varoufakis sure seems to agree that the song is about Stratou.
As Billboard points out, the BBC asked Varoufakis about the song, and here’s what he said: “Well, I wouldn’t have known her back then. But I do know that she was the only Greek student of sculpture at St Martin’s College at that time. And, from personal experience, she is a very fascinating person.”