Pulp’s “Do You Remember the First Time?” is a hopelessly romantic rock song full of noise, devotion and vulnerability. Its male protagonist, via sobbing Jarvis Cocker vocals, would be willing to give up his own happiness for that of his lover who, we presume, is already in a stable relationship.
This type of sacrifice is traditionally undertaken by female characters in all forms of storytelling; Pulp’s take on it sees a man take on that role. To see a man expose such earthly vulnerability and desperation – to the point of even seeming pathetic – is incredibly exciting.
The song takes place immediately after sex; that in itself was quite new for its time. It was also a much-publicised aspect of the song during its promotion and was accompanied by a Corker-produced short film where people talked about their first sexual experiences. The sexual side of “Do You Remember the First Time,” along with the melody itself, creates another link to the old French ballads of Edith Piaf, who sang about heartbreak from the brothels of Paris.
“You say you’ve got to go home / Well, at least there’s someone there that you can talk to / And you never have to face up to the night on your own / Jesus, it must be great to be straight!”