It may look like any other end of terrace in south London but it has played a modest part in pop music history. The address, 59 Lyndhurst Grove, in Peckham, provides the title to a song by one of Brit-Pop’s most successful bands: Pulp.
Its origins are somewhat mischievous – it was actually frontman Jarvis Cocker getting his own back after being thrown out of a house party an architect, who was hosting with his wife.
Cocker told Record Collector Magazine in December 1994: “It was a really crap ‘right on’ party – there were children there. You don’t take your children to a party in my book.”
However, rather than being about the architect, 59 Lyndhurst Grove was written about his wife, “because she was in a bad situation married to this prick”.The song slotted neatly into the final part of a trilogy entitled Inside Susan: A Story in Three Parts which appeared as the B-side (remember those?) to the single Razzamatazz, released in 1993.
The first two tracks document a fictional girl named Susan, beginning with her Rotherham adolescence through her wild teen years in Sheffield. Cocker’s experience at 59 Lyndhurst Grove gave him the perfect, albeit downbeat ending to the story. The wife of the architect became Susan, now married and living a mundane life. But there was one last twist – Susan was having an affair.
Fading in with a rather melancholic organ, betraying the band’s generally up-tempo disco sound, the song features Cocker’s typically gritty, kitchen-sink lyrics:
They were dancing with children round their legs
Talking business, books and records, art and sex
All things being considered you’d call it a success
You wore your black dress
He’s an architect and such a lovely guy and he’ll stay with you until the day you die
And he’ll give you everything you could desire
Oh well almost everything everything that he can buy
So you sometimes go out in the afternoon
Spend an hour with your lover in his bedroom
Cocker sent a copy of the single to the lady at 59 Lyndhurst Grove shortly after its release, but never got a reply. A Japanese fan apparently made the journey to stand outside the house, asking if she was Susan.
See (a terrifyingly fresh-faced) Jarvis perform the song below.
Words: Michael Hogan