Who is John Cooper Clarke? As I Wanna Be Yours author performs for the Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner first heard the John Cooper Clarke poem in class at school  (Getty Images)
Arctic Monkey’s Alex Turner first heard the John Cooper Clarke poem in class at school (Getty Images)

Fans went wild as John Cooper Clarke performed ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ at Arctic Monkeys’ New York gig on Saturday (September 9).

The special guest opened the show for the band at the Forest Hills Stadium gig to mark the 10th anniversary of the Monkey’s ‘AM’ album.

John Cooper Clarke’s I Wanna Be Yours is a love poem that rhymes Ford Cortina with vacuum cleaner, and has been a school text and a wedding staple.

After a recent resurgence on TikTok and other social media platforms, I Wanna Be Yours has become a worldwide success and has hit a billion streams on Spotify.

Earlier this year, Clarke spoke about ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ hitting a billion streams in an interview with NME saying that he was “in love” with the version done by the northern band.

And fans were chuffed to see him on the stage, taking to social media to hail him reciting the piece:

But here is everything you need to know about the poet and the poem:

Who is John Cooper Clarke?

John Cooper Clarke is a punk poet who shot to prominence in the 1970s as the original people’s poet.

His unique poetry – and delivery style – was recorded and put to music by producer Martin Hannett and a band of Mancunian stars including Buzzcocks’ Peter Shelley and The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly masquerading as The Invisible Girls.

Tracks such as Beasley St and Evidently Chickentown featured on the hit album SnapCrackle and Bop, which was one of four big selling original album releases in the late 70s and early 80s. They established Cooper Clarke as one of the most prolific artists of the punk years; the albums were big sellers worldwide and firmly placed him as a major talent.

In 2015 Sony honoured him with a book set, Anthologia, a CD and DVD collection of his entire live and recorded history, with tributes from Sir Paul McCartney and Kate Moss.

What is I Wanna Be Yours about?

I Wanna Be Yours is a love poem that John Cooper Clarke wrote to prove his devotion. It refers to setting lotion, a teddy bear, coffee pot, umbrella, electricity meters and more. It is not written for any specific woman in particular.

Speaking to the Guardian, he said it is about “elevating yourself to the level of a commodity for the person of your desire. When you’re in love with somebody, you want to be useful to them, indispensable even.”

After it was written in 1982, the poem became a favourite at weddings and was added to the GCSE English syllabus in the 1990s, which introduced it to a younger generation.

One of those studying it was Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys, who later said: “It made my ears prick up in the classroom, because it was nothing like anything I’d heard.”

Turner eventually adapted it into the ballad that closes out the band’s most successful album, 2013’s AM.

Why is the poem so popular?

Teens have now discovered the band’s version on TikTok, massively boosting its popularity. This week it is likely to reach its billionth stream on Spotify after spending months on the platform’s top 50 songs chart globally. According to Spotify, the song is most popular in the US, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil.

The band’s label Domino said the song’s popularity is rising in India, the Philippines and Turkey.

Clarke said that he was in love with Artic Monkeys’ version. Besides the cover making him “a lot of PRS” (a reference to royalties), he credits it with boosting his profile, as he tours sizeable UK venues this month.

John Cooper Clarke’s most popular poems

Here are the most memorable lines from some of the poet’s best work:

I Don’t Want to Be Nice

Best line: “I’m not your psychoanalyst, I’d rather talk to mice”.


Best line: “The pandemonium prompted the police, who patrolled the precinct in panda cars, to pull up and peruse the problem, while pickpockets picked pockets in pairs”.

I Wanna Be Yours

Best line: “If you like your coffee hot, let me be your coffee pot. You call the shots, I wanna be yours”.

Beasley Street

Best line: “The boys are on the wagon. the girls are on the shelf. Their common problem is that they’re not someone else”.


Best line: “Like a death a birthday party, you ruin all the fun”.

Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt

Best line: “The carpet was monotonous, its pattern gave the impression of small animal crapping at regular intervals”.

Evidently Chickentown

Best line: “The fucking scene is fucking sad, the fucking news is fucking bad, the fucking weed is fucking turf, the fucking speed is fucking surf”.

Kung Fu International

Best line: “I pleaded for mercy, I wriggled on the ground. He kicked me in the balls and said something profound”.

Are You the Business?

Best line: “Did Bob Marley like the odd smoke? Was Jesus Christ a decent bloke?”

Apart From the Revolution

Best line: “Poverty and pollution have all swept away. Apart from the revolution, it’s another working day”.

Suspended Sentence

Best line: “They’d hang you for incontinence and fiddling your tax. Failure to hang yourself justified the axe”.

I Wrote the Songs

Best line: “Dancin’ in the Daylight, Singin’ in the Smog, You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hedgehog”.