John Cooper Clarke on Arctic Monkeys and I Wanna Be Yours

25 January 2024, 13:15 | Updated: 25 January 2024, 13:22

John Cooper Clarke and Alex Turner with Arctic Monkeys' AM artwork inset
John Cooper Clarke discusses Arctic Monkeys and his iconic poem. Picture: Ki Price/Getty Images/ Press/Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images for Radio.com

By Jenny Mensah

As the punk poet turns 75, watch him discuss his famous piece and the Sheffield band's take on it, which featured on their 2013 AM album.

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By Jenny Mensah

John Cooper Clarke has turned 75 this week.

The punk poet, who was born on 25th January 1949, rose to fame in the late 1970s, but was brought further into the mainstream when Arctic Monkeys' reworked his I Wanna Be Yours poem for their 2013 AM album.

Now, as he celebrates his 75th year, we look back at the poem, which breathed new life into his career.

Speaking about the famous composition, which originally features on his 1982 album Zip Style Method, the Salford bard explained: "It's a number in which I attempt to reduce myself to the level a mere commodity for the greater good of the object of my desire."

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust

- John Cooper Clarke

In a video, which features on Arctic Monkeys' official YouTube from 2010, he added: "It is to 21st Century nuptials what [Monty Python's] Always Look On The Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle is to Humanist funerals."

Dr John Cooper Clarke on Arctic Monkeys and I Wanna Be Yours

On Arctic Monkeys' iconic twist on the piece, he said: "All credit to my fellow lyricist Mr. Alex Turner for spotting the romantic heart of this number, which I always kind of played for laughs in a kind of throwaway fashion.

"But what he's done here is a very difficult thing," he went on. "He's converted a poem into a song and made a song out of a poem with an addition of a nice bridge here and there and a few lines of his own.

"He's made it from a kind of semi-comedic piece to a full-on love song. I couldn't be more grateful for that. He's done such a great job on it. I couldn't be more proud about it."

Remind yourself of the finished article below:

The song from Alex Turner and co recently reached a billion streams on Spotify and speaking to The Guardian about the impressive milestone, the now-75-year-old poet said: "Is that a lot? An American billion is different to a British billion – and I don’t know what either of them is. But it’s a f*** of a lot of listens."

Despite being written over 40 years ago, the poem has since been included in a GCSE English anthology and it's often recited at weddings.

Speaking of the phenomenon, John Cooper Clarke revealed that when he's staying in hotels he's often approached by couples who tell him his poem was just read at their wedding.

He doesn't escape it when he's a guest either, adding he's often asked to recite the ode when he's a guest at his friends' nuptials.

“I get a dinner out of it," he revealed to The Guardian. Clarke - who re-used the title of the poem for his 2020 autobiography - also praised Arctic Monkeys' version and added that while he's always survived as a poet and performer, the band's track has helped him continue to thrive.

“This is what I do," he said. "This is my job, and sometimes I’m doing better business than others. But thanks to a great extent to the lads sticking me into the pop world again, everything has gone from strength to strength.”

He's not wrong, either. The original people's poet is set to embark on tour dates to celebrate "50 years of showbiz".

The shows will take place in March and April this year and will include three homecoming dates at the Lowry in Salford. Not too shabby at 75.

Arctic Monkeys - Do I Wanna Know (Radio X Session)

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