I Wanna Be Yours is very different from a lot of the poems that have been analyzed on Poem Analysis. In terms of complexity, it is simplistic. There is not a wealth of double meanings. This isn’t a poem where the poet is “showing off” more a poem full of honesty. It is effectively the narrator emphasizing their feelings towards their loved one. It is often said that poetry should be heard rather than read and Clarke’s poetry becomes very different when ingested this way. The poems are read in a style that could almost be called singing (albeit terribly out of tune singing!) and in a thick Northern English accent. Interestingly the narrator echoes what he wants to become for this person that they desire.
Form and Tone
The poem is upbeat and positive. It is effectively a love poem. It isn’t particularly clever but it does use a lot of metaphors with the narrator claiming they want to be like various inanimate objects in order to signify their feelings for the person that they are in love with. Perhaps unsurprisingly the poem has a strong sense of rhythm. This is very much a trademark of John Cooper Clarke being as most of his poetry is set to music. It is presented in 8 stanzas. There is a mostly consistent rhyming pattern (ABABCCC) with the final line not rhyming, but acting as a refrain. These changes in the last stanza probably to draw attention to the line, to emphasize it.
Analysis of I Wanna Be Yours
I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
breathing in your dust
The poem, which can be read in full here, can be quite sexual at times. It would appear this is one of those times. The narrator is saying that they want to breathe in their paramour. This language is quite dated, but certainly of its time. It’s not hard to imagine a seventies “dude” saying “breath it in, man!” These lines suggest the level of intimacy that the narrator desires. They want to be inside their loved one. Which does raise the issue of the gender of the narrator. Are they in fact a woman, or perhaps a man with a particular fetish? I’ll leave you to decide.
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust
Once again the mentioning of the Ford Cortina helps to date the poem. The Cortina is a classic seventies car. It also gives the poem a location as the Cortina is a car associated with Britain. The lines themselves suggest that the narrator doesn’t see their feelings waning. It also speaks highly of British automotive engineering! (And rightfully so!)
If you like your coffee hot
let me be your coffee pot
You call the shots
I wanna be yours
Once again the imagery here creates the sense of intimacy of being together as one. It could be construed that the writer is trying to reduce the impact of their eagerness. Let’s be honest the narrator is coming on pretty strong. The line “you call the shots” is the narrator’s way of counterbalancing the idea that they might be controlling, which their overbearing words could suggest. The stanza ends with the refrain and title of the poem I Wanna Be Yours. This is interesting as it suggests that the person that the poem is about is not yet “theirs”.
I wanna be your raincoat
for those frequent rainy days
This line is less about the desire for intimacy and more about a desire to protect the other person. The raincoat is a metaphor for taking care of the other person.
I wanna be your dreamboat
when you want to sail away
Dreamboat is another phrase that dates the poem. It isn’t used often in this day and age but was commonplace in the sixties and seventies. A dreamboat is another word for a hunk (which I guess isn’t used much today either!) but it also suggests that the narrator may well be male after all. There is a clever play on words here as the narrator turns the phrase dreamboat into a literal boat in which the other person can sail away. The narrator wants to be there for them and that is what this stanza appears to be about
Let me be your teddy bear
take me with you anywhere
I don’t care
I wanna be yours
In this section of the stanza, the narrator claims to want to be a teddy bear. This is possibly a nod to Elvis Presley who had a hit single with a song called Teddy Bear. Once again this is an item associated with comfort.
They then say they want to be with them everywhere they go and follow it up by saying they don’t care. This is an interesting line as it’s not clear what they don’t care about. Could it be that they don’t care about being a teddy bear? Is this another clue to the narrator’s gender? It wouldn’t be very masculine to be a teddy bear, but perhaps that’s a level of sacrifice that the narrator is willing to make. Or perhaps they are saying they don’t care about being taken everywhere with the person they desire. Why wouldn’t they want this? Once again the stanza ends with the poem’s title.
I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out
Once again there is a clever play on words here. Electric meters do run out, but the narrator is using this to suggest that they would never leave the object of their affection. I’m not sure that electric meters are used globally but as an Englishman, this is something I would certainly associate with English culture. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard the phrase “have you got a fiver for ‘leccy’ (electricity)”
I wanna be the electric heater
you’ll get cold without
Again the narrator emphasises how import he wants to be in the other person’s life. Heat is important and as humans, we associate the cold with being alone. The narrator is once again offering comfort
I wanna be your setting lotion
hold your hair in deep devotion
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
that’s how deep is my devotion
We see here how the narrator effectively dates the piece by referring to “setting lotion.” The seventies was famed for its big haircuts. But it would appear that the underlying meaning of this is that the narrator is offering a commitment. They are offering to hold their “hair” in deep devotion, they are possibly using hair as a euphemism for heart here. The word deep is used four times in this stanza. Obviously being deep is slang for being profound and perhaps this is the narrator’s way of trying to emphasize this about themselves.
About John Cooper Clarke
John Cooper Clarke is a different breed of the poet. He was known in his pomp as the punk poet. Most of his poems are set to music and feel very contemporary. This is perhaps a reflection of his upbringing in Salford which he describes in a way that highlights the fact that it is a dirty, grimy area this can often inform his poetry. He was inspired to write poetry by his English teacher.