"Love of the Common People" is a folk ballad written and composed by John Hurley and Ronnie Wilkins, eventually released in 1970 on Hurley's album John Hurley Sings about People,but first sung in January 1967 by The Four Preps. It had been covered by soul group The Winstons, reggae singer Nicky Thomas, country singers Waylon Jennings in 1967, Lynn Anderson same year, Wanda Jackson in 1971, The Simple Image in 1968, The Gosdin Brothers, The Everly Brothers in 1967, John Denver in his 1969 Rhymes & Reason album, Elton John, Stiff Little Fingers in 1982 and English pop singer Paul Young. In 2007 Bruce Springsteen covered it as part of his Seeger Sessions tour, releasing a live version of it as a bonus track on his Live in Dublin album. It was also a hit in Ireland for showband star Joe Dolan.
In 1982 Paul Young released his interpretation of "Love of the Common People" as a single, but it, initially, failed to chart. It was only when Young had his first hit in 1983 with "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)" and the single was re-released that it became a big hit. The single peaked at #2 in the UK, and reached the number one spot in Ireland and the Netherlands. This version also contained a solo by influential ska and reggae trombonist Rico Rodriguez.
On Stiff Little Fingers's re-mastered Now Then... album, there is an interview with Jake Burns where he re-calls Paul Young met Stiff Little Fingers at one of their concerts in Dunstable in support of the album in which Young asked Burns whether Stiff Little Fingers were planning to release the song as a single. When Burns told them they weren't, Young asked if they minded him releasing it as a single. They said he could, not thinking the single would do well. Burns then says jokingly in the interview, "Pfft! Go ahead. You'll never get anywhere with that, mate. Yeah, number 2, that'll teach me!"
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