This Man Is Behind The Title Of The First Arctic Monkeys Album

23 January 2018, 15:54

Albert Finney, 1961
Albert Finney, 1961. Picture: John Pratt/Keystone Features/Getty Images

Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not is the title of the debut album from Arctic Monkeys, but where did that phrase come from?

On 23 January 2006, Arctic Monkeys released their debut album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Riding high off the success of their Number 1 single I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, the LP also shot to the top in the UK and critics hailed frontman Alex Turner as one of the best new songwriting talents in the country.

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not
Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not. Picture: Press

The title of the album seemed to sum up the swagger and the confidence of Turner - opening the video to I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor, Turner muttered: “Don’t believe the hype”.

The album title reflected this desire not to be pigeonholed, but the truth went a bit deeper than that.

Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not is a line from the novel Saturday Night Sunday Morning. Written in 1958 by Alan Sillitoe, the book tells the tale of Arthur Seaton, a man who works at the local factory, while drinking hard at the weekends and carrying on with various women.

The book as turned into a famous film in 1960, where Seaton - played by Albert Finney - rails against people who claim to have got the measure of him.

At one point, he rants: “I’m me and nobody else. Whatever people say I am, that's what I'm not because they don't know a bloody thing about me! God knows what I am.”

Alex Turner liked the statement and realised that the story of working class culture in the 60s reflected his own lyrics about Sheffield nightlife in the 21st Century. In fact, many of the tales on the Arctic Monkeys LP were taken from his own experiences in Yorkshire clubs.

Arctic Monkeys live at Reading 2006
Arctic Monkeys live at Reading 2006. Picture: Suzan Moore/EMPICS Entertainment

But Arctic Monkeys weren’t the only band to be influenced by the film Saturday Night Sunday Morning: the classic Smiths song There Is A Light That Never Goes Out also makes a reference to the script as one of Arthur’s conquests claims: "I want to go where there's life and there's people”.

Arctic Monkeys Songs