everything a man could want

The Guardian is asking readers to suggest songs about class.

This may seem odd, given the amount of punk I listen to, but the one that consistently catches me is from Simon & Garfunkel:

Their starting-point is a not-particularly brilliant poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson:

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean-favoured and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good Morning!" and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich, yes, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine -- we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked and waited for the light,
And went without the meat and cursed the bread,
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet in his head.

Paul Simon takes this twee “it’s tough being rich” piece of sap, and turn it upside down. It only works because of the last repetition of the chorus:

He freely gave to charity, he had the common touch,
And they were grateful for his patronage and thanked him very much,
So my mind was filled with wonder when the evening headlines read:
"Richard Cory went home last night and put a bullet through his head."
But I work in his factory
And I curse the life I'm living
And I curse my poverty
And I wish that I could be (x3)
Richard Cory.

Class warfare it ain’t. Still, it got throughly under my skin when I was a teenager ashamed of my own cowardice in not killing myself, and has stuck there ever since.

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