Released in 1995, the song is about those who were perceived by the singer/songwriter Jarvis Cocker as wanting to be "like common people" and who ascribe glamour to poverty. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as slumming or "class tourism".
The inspiration for the song came from a Greek fellow student Cocker knew at the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. Taking this inspiration, the narrator explains that his female acquaintance can "never be like common people", because even if she gets a flat where "roaches climb the wall" ultimately, "if [she] called [her] dad he could stop it all", in contrast to the true common people who can only "watch [their] lives slide out of view".
In his lyric Cocker embellished the situation for dramatic effect - in real life the woman in question said she "wanted to move to Hackney and live like 'the common people'", but in the song her character also declares: "I want to sleep with common people like you."
A BBC Documentary failed to correctly locate the woman that inspired the song.