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LISTENING IN: Seger song shows you never can tell

I’ve always loved Bob Seger, but oddly my favourite song – outside of “Night Moves” naturally – is probably the least Seger-like song in the Detroit rocker’s catalogue, “C’est La Vie” (or as it is perhaps better known, the “Pulp Fiction” dance song). That’s probably because – fun fact – the tune was actually composed by Chuck Berry, albeit with the title “You Never Can Tell.”

Like many, I wasn’t familiar with the song, never mind Seger’s version, which appeared on his 1994 greatest hits album (though it was previously unreleased), until hearing it filmmaker Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece, which came out the same year.

And what a debut! – the song, with its French new-wave verve, providing the perfect soundtrack to the legendary “twist contest” dance scene with Uma Thurman and John Travolta (move over Gene Kelly!).

Not unlike Tom Cruise’s iconic performance of Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” in “Risky Business,” Pulp propelled C’est La Vie into a hit, and ultimately an all-time Seger classic, though never without the accompanying inner image of a ponytailed Travolta drawing his fingers across his eyes in a sideways V motion.

Typically, we’d offer a clip of Seger doing the song, but C’est La Vie is so inextricably linked to the Thurman-Tarantino dance number that we feel obliged to link that clip instead.

Lyrics

It was a teenage wedding and the old folks wished ’em well
You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madam have rung the chapel bell
C’est la vie say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They finished off an apartment with a two-room Roebuck sale
The coolerator was jammed with TV dinners and ginger ale
And when Pierre found work, the little money comin’ worked out well
C’est la vie say the old folks it goes to show you never can tell

They had a hi-fi phono, boy did they let it blast
Seven hundred little records, all blues, rock, rhythm, and jazz
But when the sun went down, the volume went down as well
C’est la vie say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They bought a souped-up jitney, it was a cherry red ’53
And drove it down to New Orleans to celebrate their anniversary
It was there where Pierre was wedded to the lovely mademoiselle
C’est la vie say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

They had a teenage wedding and the old folks wished ’em well
You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle
And now the young monsieur and madam have rung the chapel bell
C’est la vie say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell

First published at Travel Industry Today

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