The song has several interpretations, with the most common one being the singer fixated in nostalgia for a previous partner, with the "First Time" of the title being the first time they had sex. Though the singer "couldn't remember a worse time," they seem to look back on their relationship with a great deal of affection, and sardonically refer to her new boyfriend as being more conventional and boring than he was ("Jesus it must be great to be straight") but acknowledge that perhaps a stable relationship is something he isn't interested in and that he is happy apart.
To promote the single, Jarvis Cocker put together a collection of interviews with celebrities recounting their "first times." The resulting 25-minute film features the likes of John Peel, Jo Brand, Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer, Alison Steadman, Viv Stanshall and Justine Frischman of Elastica revealing their losses of virginity. Fun Boy Terry Hall has perhaps the best line: "She was into the Bay City Rollers, which put me off a bit. But not enough."
The film, co-directed by Cocker and Steve Mackey, ended up on the Sorted for Films and Vids and Pulp Hits compilation videos.
A radio edit exists and is often played on radio and TV, where the "I don't care if you screwed him" line is replaced with "I don't care if you knew him." This was presumably made to gain more airplay, considering the lyric barely makes sense in song context.
On April 10, 2014, Sophie Ellis-Bextor covered the song at Maida Vale Studios for a BBC Radio 2 session celebrating 20 years of Britpop.
Live, this song was always hugely popular - usually as a set-opener. It opened Pulp's show-stopping performances at Reading and Leeds Festival in 2011, co-headlining with The Strokes, and also opened their farewell show at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield in December 2012.
Whilst not necessarily the band's breakthrough single, Jarvis Cocker has described "Do You Remember The First Time?" as "the day modern-day Pulp was born."
This was where the signature sound of the band came together after the many years of experimentation and lineup changes that had proceeded.