Help The Aged
by Pulp

Album: This Is Hardcore (1997)
Charted: 8

Songfacts®:

  • This song was chosen as the lead single from 1998 album This Is Hardcore, and signposted the new direction the band took - one full of cynicism and loathing for the fame that had accompanied their breakthrough 1995 record Different Class.

    It's one that surprised many who were expecting more upbeat tunes like "Common People," but one that Jarvis Cocker was keen to go in. Observer music critic Sean O'Hagan noted in a 2002 interview with Cocker that This Is Hardcore "cost Pulp a sizeable proportion of their post-Common People fan base," but Cocker in the same interview notes: "I weren't surprised in the slightest. Songs about panic attacks, pornography, fear of death and getting old are never gonna be top of the hit parade, are they? I wrote about my own life. Before that, it was me pottering about, picking up bits of information from wherever. Then it became very interior. Introspective. I don't think introspection is ever that healthy. In my experience, the more angst-ridden I've been, the worse the music is.'
  • Despite the dark tone of the song, "Help The Aged" still charted at #8 in the UK singles chart, making it the band's fifth consecutive Top 10 single.
  • In Seven Years of Plenty, Ben Thompson notes the dark themes of aging and death referenced in "Help The Aged": "Jarvis Cocker croons caringly, over a sparse piano accompaniment, 'One day they were just like you: drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue.' But this jaunty one-two is just softening us up for the death blow: 'If you look very hard behind the lines upon their face, you may see where you are heading and it's such a lonely place.'"
  • In an interview with Uncut in 1998, Cocker noted the problems faced with making a similarly dark video, particularly with reference to Stannah stairlifts: '"We had loads of trouble with that video because we weren't allowed to mention death; we'd got the Stannah stairlift people involved, and they didn't want their product associated with taking people off to heaven. So we had to pretend that they were going to this other planet, but they were actually passing over to the other side. I'm sure Stannah stairlifts don't actually kill people. They move too slow to run people over."
  • The B-side contains the track "Tommorow Never Lies," and yes, the reference to the similarly named James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies is entirely deliberate, for this song was originally set to be used as the theme tune to that film before being passed over in favor of Sheryl Crow's track.

    Originally Pulp's track was also called "Tomorrow Never Dies" but was renamed to a working title for the film, with the very original version as submitted to the Bond producers (and named "Tomorrow Never Dies") surfacing on the bonus disc of the This Is Hardcore 2006 reissue.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

The Girl in That SongFact or Fiction

Billie Jean, Delilah, Sara, Laura and Sharona - do you know who the girls in the songs really are?

Tony Joe WhiteSongwriter Interviews

The writer of "Rainy Night in Georgia" and "Polk Salad Annie" explains how he cooks up his Louisiana swamp rock.

JJ Burnel of The StranglersSongwriter Interviews

JJ talks about The Stranglers' signature sound - keyboard and bass - which isn't your typical strain of punk rock.

Weird Al YankovicFact or Fiction

Did Al play on a Beach Boys record? Did he have beef with George Lucas and Coolio? See if you can spot weird but true stories.

Boy BandsFact or Fiction

From NKOTB to 1D, how well do you know your boy bands?

Macabre Mother Goose: The Dark Side of Children's SongsSong Writing

"London Bridge," "Ring Around the Rosie" and "It's Raining, It's Pouring" are just a few examples of shockingly morbid children's songs.